Performing a Trademark Search in the United States

The world of intellectual property is a complex one, as it entails plenty of work securing and ensuring that items owned by companies are protected from unauthorized use. Trademarks exist to protect a company’s brand from being misused, disparaged, or misappropriated by others to pass off sub-standard goods, which is integral in the business world.

Far too many branding elements and other products have been misappropriated from the entrepreneurial sphere, which keeps trademark lawyers on their toes. Following the law’s boundaries can be arduous, especially with how many businesses can be litigious to squeeze out their competition.

Using Trademark Searches

Before undergoing any business process, whether it is branding, product development, or other entrepreneurship elements, you’ll want to search trademarks online. Fortunately, the online world has plenty of methods to determine if you may be infringing on an existing trademark. While it might be tempting to play on other brands’ design and marketing elements, this is often not recommended.

Trademark lawyers recommend running the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to ensure continuity when conducting branding procedures. This database contains practically all kinds of patented items and data, which will help you make better decisions about your branding process and formulating a unique identity.

The Three Different Trademarks

There are three different variants of trademarks that can be searched. While some searches might be straightforward, others will require more complex marks to be described because of the search engine’s technical limitations. With the world of patented and trademarked items growing each day, it is essential to avoid stepping on toes and determine whether something is already protected under trademark law. Here are the three kinds of marks searched with TESS:

The first kind of mark is the standard character mark, which is where the owners of this kind of trademark file for protection for styles and drawings that contain words, letters, or numbers. Other types of combinations are possible, and these can have various fonts and formatting. The letters of words and phrases can be typed into a TESS search and are the most basic and powerful forms of trademark protection.

Secondly, graphics and special characters can be protected, like symbols, logos, and other unique brand identities. To add this to trademark protection, you’ll need to provide an accurate depiction of your graphical elements (e.g. shapes, layout, lines). These graphics are typically easily copied and encroached by other businesses, making it essential to safeguard your own design.

Lastly, sound marks are also available to be trademarked, including audible sounds integral in recognizing a business.

Common-Law Trademarks

Common-law trademarks are also essential in the process of searching for infringement and intellectual property ownership. These are typically not filed with the trademark office or were rejected by the trademark office, but they may have some limited protections over a geographical area or can gain protectability through continued use. You’ll find types of marks for searching in Internet materials, print editions, state registries, federal or state court cases, and even governmental or county filings.

Trademark lawyers recommend looking at these to prevent your brand from being misused or possibly avoiding a potential infringement claim from another business down the road that is using the mark but did not register it.


Patents and trademarks are essential, as intellectual properties become even more of an investment in today’s world. With businesses spending hundreds of thousands and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars on their branding identities, it pays to know what your own company is getting into. What might seem harmless can always have its side effects. Ensure that you run the right searches and contact the right professionals to help with trademark navigation.

Patent Lawyer is home to some of the most experienced trademark lawyers in Houston, Texas. We can assist with various legal services to safeguard intellectual property and find the safest way to conduct business branding procedures. Contact us to learn more about the process of registering your trademark.