What is a trademark or service mark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, or smell (or some combination of these) that identifies the source of a product or service. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has information here: What is a trademark?
A service mark is a trademark, except that it specifically identifies a service and not a product.
The terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks.
Usually a mark for goods appears on the product or its packaging, while a service mark appears in advertising for the services.
A trademark is different from a patent or copyright. A patent protects an invention. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.
Federal trademarks, issued by the USPTO, are valid in all 50 states. In addition, each state issues its own trademarks.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides extensive trademark information: Trademark Basics
Important Databases - United States Patent and Trademark Office
Trademark Search System - This search engine allows you to search the USPTO's database of registered trademarks and pending applications to find marks that may prevent registration due to a likelihood of confusion refusal. Includes records back to 1984.
This product replaced the old TESS database in November 2023.
Trademark Design Search Manual - if your mark includes a design element (i.e. logo), you will need to search it by using a design code.
TEAS - the Trademark Electronic Application System - for online filing.
TSDR - Trademark Status & Document Retrieval - allows you to see the filings of others.
Conducting a Trademark Search - advice from staff at the USPTO
Including the important consideration of Likelihood of Confusion
Also, see the section on business name searching, below
State Trademark Information
State Trademark Information Links - find information on trademarks specific to all 50 states and D.C.
More Information, including World-Wide Searching
DESIGNview - Search designs registered across the European Union.
TMview - Search trademarks registered across the European Union.
For Historical Investigation
Index of Trademarks issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office - Hathi Trust Digital Library, University of Michigan.
Historic "dead" trademark information may be requested from staff of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Resource Center Program (PTRCP). They refer to microfilm held at the Patent Office. Please make requests through a PTRCP library.
Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year ... / U.S. Patent Office - from the Hathi Trust collection. (Trademarks listed, beginning in 1870.)
-Missing 1872 - 1875.
Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year / United States Patent Office. 1865 - 1919 (with trademarks listed beginning in 1870). From the Smithsonian Library.
RUSS's Guide to the Gazettes at Hathi Trust - use this to help make sense of these next two entries.
Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office - In this period, trademark records were in the same volumes with patent records - these volumes are thanks to the Hathi Trust.
Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. Trademarks. and Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademarks. Later, trademark records were published in a separate series from patent records. Again, these volumes are thanks to the Hathi Trust.
The name of a business may also be used as a trademark but the two aren't exactly the same.
The Small Business Administration has detailed business name advice, also including domain name (website address) as a business name.
Trying to Avoid Business Name Conflict:
Business directories are a good place to check for organization names that are already in use. Here are two with broad coverage:
Claiming a name and for possible searching:
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