Unbeknownst to most people (including almost everyone who is not a trademark attorney otherwise known as “normal people”), the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (aka the “PTO”) launched a new system for searching existing, pending, and abandoned trademarks (and patents) on November 30 of this year.
The new system is intended to improve the PTO’s search tools frequently used by patent and trademark filers and web visitors to provide a more multi-faceted, reliable search experience.
After launching the Beta version in September, the full-fledged version was released at the end of November as a replacement for the previous system (known as the “Trademark Electronic Search System,” or, more simply, “TESS”) to make searching for trademark registrations and/or applications easier. The new system provides users with a stronger industry-standard search syntax and offers both a simplified, basic search interface as well as a more advanced search interface for more complex searching.
TESS remained active at the launch date but is being permanently retired later this year.
To assist with the transition to the new search tool, the PTO has been offering multiple virtual demonstrations and trainings to ensure comfort and familiarity with its use. Each session covered system capabilities and ended with a question-and-answer period so that the PTO could incorporate common user concerns and suggestions into finetuning the new system.
These webinars were recorded and can be viewed at www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search.
Why It Matters.
Trademark searches are an important first step for a business considering the adoption of a new trademark or service mark. And when done properly and done timely, a trademark search can be invaluable.
A trademark search is a comprehensive exploration conducted to determine whether a particular mark (like a brand name, logo, or slogan) is already in use or registered by another entity. This search aims to uncover any existing trademarks that might conflict with the one a business owner wants to adopt.
A trademark search helps ensure that the proposed trademark doesn't infringe upon existing rights held by others. Using a mark that's already claimed by someone else can lead to legal disputes, hefty fines, or even forced rebranding.
Businesses invest time, money, and effort in building their brand. Conducting a trademark search helps safeguard this investment by ensuring the chosen mark is unique and legally defensible.
Registering a trademark provides legal protection and exclusive rights to use that mark in connection with the goods or services it represents. A thorough search can identify potential conflicts before filing for registration, avoiding rejection or opposition from existing trademark holders.
A unique and protected trademark helps in building consumer trust and confidence. It distinguishes your products or services from competitors and contributes to brand recognition and loyalty.
Hopefully, the new PTO trademark search system streamlines the process and improves the effectiveness of a typical, pre-usage search.