How to Do a Trademark Search

How to Do a Trademark Search

Are you looking to register your Trademark? You must run a Trademark search first to make sure your name is available. But, how? Lets find out!

The USPTO reported 737,018 trademark applications in 2023 and 3.12 million new business applications, a notable increase from the previous year. In an environment where 33.2 million small businesses are making their mark, understanding how to conduct a detailed trademark search is more relevant than ever. This guide focuses on the practicalities of trademark searches, a necessary step for businesses or entrepreneurs aiming to establish a distinctive identity in a crowded market.

What is a Trademark?

What is a Trademark
Trademarks represent a unique aspect of intellectual property, encompassing various elements such as signs, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination thereof. These elements function to identify and differentiate a product or service in the marketplace, linking them to a specific source. For instance, trademarks are not limited to but can include elements like corporate logos, slogans, brand names, and distinctive packaging designs.

The Protection a Trademark Offers

The protection offered by a trademark is specifically tied to its use in connection with the goods or services provided by its owner. This legal framework implies that while a trademark can safeguard against the use of a similar mark that might confuse consumers, it does not extend to prohibiting the use of the same or similar marks on unrelated goods or services.

Trademark Status

Regarding the status of trademarks, there are two types: registered and unregistered. Unregistered trademarks receive some degree of protection under common law, but registering a trademark, such as through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the United States, affords more comprehensive legal rights. These rights include but are not limited to, the exclusive use of the mark nationwide in association with the goods or services listed in the registration.

Role of Trademarks

Trademarks play several roles beyond mere identification. They are instrumental in safeguarding against counterfeiting and fraud. Furthermore, trademarks hold economic value for a business, as they can be licensed or sold. The enforcement of trademark rights usually occurs through court orders. The period for which a trademark can be registered varies across different jurisdictions, but it typically spans ten years and offers the possibility of indefinite renewal.

Trademark Registration Statistics

Trademark Registration Statistics

U.S. Trademark Application Trends

Trademark applications, as recorded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), reveal interesting trends and shifts over the years. In 2023, the USPTO saw 737,018 trademark applications, marking a 6.4% decrease from the previous year. This data, part of the Trademarks Data Q4 2023, provides insight into the trademark registration activity in the USA for that year. The USPTO's Trademarks Dashboard, which offers various metrics like quality, pendency, and application filings, is a primary source for such statistics.

Comparing these figures with those from previous years offers a broader perspective. For instance, in 2020, the number of trademark applications in the United States was 1,092,279. This number represented a substantial increase from the 461,002 applications filed in 2003. Although the 2023 figure indicates a decrease from the 2020 peak, it is essential to acknowledge that fluctuations in trademark filing activity can occur due to a range of factors, including economic conditions and industry trends.

Global Trademark Filing Patterns

On a global scale, trademark activity also presents notable figures. In 2022, approximately 15.5 million trademark applications were filed worldwide. While this does not provide specific 2023 statistics for the USA, it does shed light on the scale of trademark activity on a global level. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) annually overviews intellectual property activity, including trademarks, offering a framework for understanding trends and comparing activities across different years and jurisdictions. Focusing on China, from January to July 2023, there were 4.105 million trademark applications, with 2.396 million getting registered. By July 2023, the number of registered trademarks in force in China had reached 44.537 million.

Five-Year U.S. Trademark Application Statistics

Examining the USPTO's trademark application statistics over the past five years yields the following insights:

  • The 2023 figure of 737,018 trademark applications signifies a decrease from the previous year.
  • While the specific number of trademark applications for 2022 is not readily available, it is known to be higher than the 2023 figure.
  • In 2021, a notable surge in trademark applications occurred, with December 2020 alone seeing 92,608 applications, a 172% increase over December 2019. The total number for 2021, however, is not specified.
  • The 2020 figure stood at 1,092,279 trademark applications.
  • In 2019, 485,444 new trademark applications were received by the USPTO, a record at that time.

2023 Regional Trademark Trends

In 2023, trademark registration observed various trends in different regions. The WIPO reported a return to more regular levels of trademark filing after a surge in applications, with a 14.5% decline in application class counts compared to the previous year. Yet, the overall trend showed growth, with more than 1.5 times the number of applications filed in 2022 compared to 2012. A slight decline of 2.1% was noted in the number of designs contained in applications, set against a backdrop of overall growth. Increases in filings were observed in the offices of Algeria, Colombia, Türkiye, and Saudi Arabia. China, in particular, made 33,605 more applications than in 2021. Additionally, significant contributions came from the intellectual property (I.P.) offices of India, South Africa, the European Patent Office (EPO), and the USPTO.

How to Conduct a Trademark Search

How to Conduct a Trademark Search

Identifying Your Trademark

The first step in conducting a trademark search involves deciding on the specific version of the trademark you wish to search for. This could be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these elements. Selecting the precise version of the trademark is essential for an effective search process.

Using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a free online tool known as the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This tool can be accessed through the USPTO website or at a local Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC). TESS serves as a primary resource for conducting trademark searches.

Searching the USPTO Database

When using TESS, the key task is to input your trademark into the search field to explore the USPTO's trademark database. It's advisable to not only look for exact matches but also to consider similar trademarks, including different spellings, abbreviations, and plurals, to ensure a comprehensive search.

Utilizing the Trademark ID Manual

The Trademark ID Manual can be an invaluable tool during your search. It aids in comparing your list of goods or services with the class numbers listed in the manual, providing a structured approach to categorizing and understanding how your trademark may be classified.

Searching Other Databases and the Internet

In addition to the USPTO database, conducting searches on other databases and the internet is necessary. This step ensures that your trademark is not already in use by someone else in a non-registered form, which could potentially affect your trademark's uniqueness and validity.

Considering Professional Assistance

While conducting a preliminary trademark search on your own is feasible, engaging a professional, such as a trademark attorney or a private trademark search firm, can be beneficial. Professionals can offer a more thorough search and guide you through the complexities of trademark law.

It's important to note that while the USPTO does not mandate a clearance search before applying to register a trademark, such a search is highly recommended to mitigate the risk of legal disputes. Also, be aware that the USPTO may reject a trademark application if it finds a "likelihood of confusion" with an existing trademark.

Rules, Cost, & Duration for Trademark Registrations in 2024

Rules, Cost, & Duration for Trademark Registrations in 2024

Costs of Trademark Registration

As of January 1, 2024, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has set specific costs for trademark registration, which vary based on the application type and the number of classes of goods or services involved. The USPTO offers two main types of applications:

  1. TEAS Plus: This application, requiring the use of pre-approved descriptions of goods and services, is priced at $250 per class of goods or services.
  2. TEAS Standard: For those needing a custom description, the TEAS Standard application is appropriate, costing $350 per class of goods or services. It's important to remember that if a trademark encompasses multiple classes, the application fee applies to each class separately.

Duration of the Trademark Registration Process

The process of fully registering a trademark typically spans approximately 12 to 18 months. This duration encompasses various stages, including a review by an Examining Attorney and publication in the Official Gazette. The timeline from the Examining Attorney's approval to publication generally takes about 1-3 months. Following publication, another 1-3 months are usually needed before the issuance of the Registration Certificate.

Rules and Requirements for Trademark Registration

There are several legal requirements for trademark registration:

  • The trademark must be distinctive and either already used in commerce or intended to be used in commerce.
  • The application must be filed under the name of the individual or business owning the mark.
  • Foreign citizens or companies are required to hire an attorney to file their application in the United States.


It is important to note the criticality of conducting thorough trademark searches and comprehending the nuances of trademark registration. With the evolving trends in trademark applications, it is essential to be precise in this process. The guidelines for conducting trademark searches, combined with information on the expenses and prerequisites for trademark registration as of 2024, offer valuable direction for efficient trademark management.