How do I do a trademark search?
There are several ways to go about doing a trademark search. First, there are several free trademark searches that you can conduct:
(1) For trademarks which are federally registered (that is, registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office) you can conduct a free online search of the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (known as TESS), a database of federal trademark registrations. You can also conduct such a search of federal trademark registrations by going to any one of several Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries.
(2) If you know of a specific federally registered trademark or application, you can check its status through the Patent and Trademark Office’s free online Trademark Applications and Registration Retrieval (known as TARR) database.
(3) Just as the PTO has its free online database for searching federally registered trademarks, many states now offer similar online databases for state registered trademarks. For example, you can search Arkansas’ trademark database here.
(4) For common law trademarks (trademarks that are not registered with the PTO or any state agency), you can conduct informal searches via search engines such as Google, or by searching the phone book, to see if anyone is using the mark you are interested in.
In addition to the above free searches, you can also hire a professional search firm, the most well-known of which is Thomson & Thomson. These search firms can conduct widespread searches covering federal and state registrations, pending applications and common law marks. The common law search is where professional firms are most helpful and useful, since common law trademark use can be difficult to find.