Trademark Searching

Tess contains mostly live trademarks and those that were live as recently as 1984 [details here]. It also contains some indeterminate number of trademarks that were dead before 1984. Start your trademark searches there. The uspto offers three flavors of searches: new user, structured and free form. Your structured searches can be on something like 30 different fields.

Tsdr is the uspto's online document retriever for trademark files. It has literally millions of registration certificate pdfs (analogous to a patent's patent document) and other documentation. Anecdotally it looks like the more recently the trademark was registered the more documents in addition to the registration certificate will be available online. They can include pictures of the trademarked item and legalese laden letters going back and forth between the uspto and whoever holds or wants to hold the trademark. The key thing here is you need to know a registration number in order to retrieve these documents or even to find out what documents are available for a particular trademark. They do offer a lookup by serial number but it is more complicated and unreliable than using the registration number especially with long dead trademarks.

USAMark is a collection of 247 dvds the patent office no longer produces but several libraries have complete or partial sets. Being an inquisitive guy I compared what is on the dvds vs what's online. The dvds contain a mountain of unindexed duplicate versions of registration certificates as well as nearly 11,000 registration certificates that are not online- not part of Tsdr. But fret not historic ip friends, they are online on this very web site! Sure they correspond to dead trademarks and in some cases long dead trademarks but historic ip fans may still find a wealth of information in them - who registered the trademark, its first use in commerce etc.

So from what's available at uspto.gov you are in trouble if you are interested in an older, dead trademark if you don't know its registration number or if it's one of the nearly 11,000 they don't have online. This site has the latter nearly 11,000 they do not have. Additionally I have run an optical character recognition (ocr) program on the roughly 600,000 registration certificates that are not in Tess. I put them in a database on this site and provided a search screen for you, the historic ip fan. You can search my database and get links to the registration certificates in Tsdr or on this site if the uspto does not have them online (the aforementioned 11,000 of them). Google patents is a similar searchable database created by ocr'ing patent images.

A separate problem is that there are around 20,000 older, dead trademarks that the uspto never scanned. They therefore are not in Tess, Tsdr, USAMark or on my web site. The only place I know that has them is the library inside the patent office. Since they weren't scanned I could not run the optical character recognition software on them. I did create database entries for some of these trademarks from data available at Hathi Trust but it's just the very basic data - the registrant etc. not all of the text in the registration certificate.

A final problem with some of the scanned registration certificates is their quality. The originals of a decent percentage of them are in very poor shape. If you've done any amount patent searching you will have come across a similar problem where a patent was stamped "Best Copy Available". The software that tries to figure out the text in the registration certificate works better when the image is at least legible. All that to say what your success searching my database can vary. If the quality of the original was decent there's a good chance that it will be included in the search results. All bets are off however for the poorer quality images.

The whole thing shown chartwise is something like this:

US Trademark Registration Certificate Coverage

 HistoricIpuspto
Russ TessTsdrUSAMark
20,000 never scanned1   
11,000 scanned but not on uspto.govX  X
600,000 dead before 1984X XX
8MM live and dead from 1984-date XX2
1 = minimal data available for ~6,000 trademarks
2 = USAMark ended with registration certificate 3,752,366 from 2010. Content on dvds only, not online.

Here's a graph showing the years with the most never scanned registration certificates.


For an even more in depth explanation of trademark searching and this graph read about the trials and tribulations I had while researching the trademarks in a particular book I came across. I was not able to find all of the trademarks on my own; I needed the help of someone at the patent office.

The acronyms in bold above are part of the US patent office's offline (USAMark) and online (Tess and Tsdr) world and are further explained in the glossary. They could be all in uppercase but I like to think of them as names, anthropomorphizing them into quirky friends: Tess, the fickle b word; ultra patriot U-S-A Mark and vowel challenged Tsdr (T's Dr. or Tease Doctor).