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Stony Brook University

Patent & Trademark Resources on the Web

This guide directs you to free databases and other materials that explain and help with the patent and trademark search process

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.  Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business.

A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal Agency charged with granting U.S. Patents and registering Federal Trademarks.

For more information look at these guides created by other libraries:

Sacred Heart University Library

Trademark Search Guide

Conducting a Trademark Search


When examining a trademark application, examiners only search for trademarks that are registered with the USPTO. They do not search state or common law marks. It is possible, however, that there is a state, common law, or an abandoned registration that is still in use in the marketplace that may conflict with your mark.

Search the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual to locate terms that describe your good or service. The Goods and Services Manual is just a guideline. It’s okay to use your own description if you can’t find an appropriate match. Check for abolished terms. Trademark registrations are not updated when terms change or are deleted. Example: Flying disc v. flying saucer for toy flying discs

If my logo is for a new beverage such as beer, a search for the word "beer" would return a listing of acceptable identifiers for beer products: malt beer, beer jugs, pale beer, etc.

2. Determine Classes for Goods and Services

Search the International (Nice) Schedule of Classes for terms related to your product or service. In the Goods and Services Manual, note the International Class listed with each term.

Example: Beer

Beer jugs 
Beer mugs 
Black beer
Brewed malt-based alcoholic beverage in the nature of a beer
Malt beer 
Non-alcoholic beer 
Pale beer 
Porter [beer] 


The International Class (IC) for Beer Jugs is 021 and for Malt Beer it is 032. If my trademark was for a new micro-brewed beer then I could use IC 032 in conjunction with my word mark to determine if there are other similar marks registered or pending. But if I was also planning on selling beer jugs along with the beer then I will need to search IC 021.

3. Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP)

Review chapter 1400 for the appropriate class scope notes in order to confirm the terms and classes you have chosen. For example, Class 8 (Hand Tools) includes cutlery but not surgical knives, which are in Class 10 (Medical Apparatus), or fencing weapons, which are found in Class 28 (Toys and Sporting Goods.)

4. Design Code Manual (DCM)

If your mark incorporates a design or logo you must search for trademarks that might be confusingly similar. Use the Design Code Manual to locate the appropriate six-digit code for each design element in your mark. The DCM is a numerical classification index that codifies design figurative elements into categories, divisions and sections:

Example: A Star

01 - Celestial bodies, natural phenomena, geographical maps
01.01 - Stars, comets
01.01.03 - Stars with five points

The design code for a five pointed star is 01.01.03. You can use this code to limit the results of your search to only marks with a five pointed star. But remember, even simple designs often have more than one design element.

5. USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), Common Law and State Databases

Conduct a search in TESS combining your word mark or logo with the terms, classes and design codes you have identified in steps 1-4. Remember to search for alternative spellings, phonetic and foreign language equivalents, synonyms and homonyms. For example, SNOW BRITE, SNOW BRIGHT, SNO-BRITE, SNO-BRIGHT, SNOW WHITE, etc.

TESS is a powerful search tool. Using the "Advanced Search," you can use, Boolean Operators, "field codes" and truncation to limit or expand your searches. A few examples using the "basic index" [bi], translations [ti], and truncation, $, ? and *:


  • te$ = teleology, teknology
  • te?no*.bi. = teknobag, technobag
  • *saur? = brontosaurus, sillisauras, grillasauros
  •,ti. = wolf, lupo, ookami, lobo, etc.
  • ADJ OR

Common law searching may involve checking the following types of databases:


  • Telephone, business and manufacturing directories
  • Print and on-line catalogs
  • Trade journals and magazines
  • Domain name databases
  • Web search engines: text and images
  • Newspapers and newsletters
  • Company press releases and new product announcements

Finally, search state trademark databases for mark conflicts.

6. Trademark Status & Document Retrieval system (TSDR ) - formerly TARR

Check TSDR (formerly TARR) for the current status of U.S. marks you found in step 5. Records found in TESS will include links to their TSDR equivalents.