How to Check Trademark Status or See if Something is Trademarked Already

How to check a trademark status

One of the most important pieces of intellectual property is the registered trademark. The trademark registration process protects your mark from use by others. If you’re wondering how to tell if something is trademarked or how to check a trademark status, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a streamlined process.

How to See If Something Is Trademarked Already

When you create a new product or service, you’d be right to wonder how to know if something is trademarked or how to find out if a trademark is registered. Luckily, the USPTO has a streamlined process for users to both apply for new trademarks and check whether a trademark is already registered.

Trademark Registration Check

The trademark registration process is necessary to protect your mark and prevent others from using it on their goods or services. Although it’s a federal process, some states also offer trademark registration. For example, you can learn more about Florida trademark registration.

In general, the registration process occurs through the USPTO’s website at uspto.gov. When you want to determine whether another company or person has already registered the trademark design you want to register, you can search for free on the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). TESS is maintained by the USPTO, and the Design Search Code Manual will help you identify appropriate search terms.

Another option is to visit the USPTO’s Public Search Facility or a Patent and Trademark Resource Center located near your community. Be mindful that these offices may have reduced services due to the ongoing pandemic.

Need Advice on a Trademark Registration Check?

If you’re considering registering a trademark or checking whether a certain mark is already registered, working with a trademark attorney can help. Our attorneys at Cueto Law Group have broad experience in intellectual property law, including trademark registration and status checks. A trademark attorney in Miami will walk you through the steps and perform any searches for you.

Contact us for a free consultation.

How to Check a Trademark Status After Registration

Once you’ve determined that your desired mark is not already registered, it’s time to begin the trademark application process. Registering your trademark has several benefits. Most importantly, having a registered trademark allows you to use the mark on any of your goods and services, while at the same time preventing anyone else from using the mark.

Check Trademark Status

Checking the trademark status allows applicants or potential registrants to see the status of their applications. Once you apply, you should periodically check the status at least every three to four months. This will show you whether the USPTO has requested further documentation or issued any official requests.

While processing wait times vary, the USPTO estimates that it takes about 18 months to complete the registration process. It is on the applicant to monitor the application status throughout this period.

Under the Trademark Act, failure to respond to an official request or to submit documentation on time can result in abandonment or cancellation of your application. At that point, you would have to begin the application process all over again.

Use the TSDR Trademark Search

The system for searching trademark registrations is maintained by the USPTO. It’s called the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. Initially created in 2011, the TSDR system today can be used as a downloadable web application.

The TSDR system is like a portal connecting applicants with official trademark examiners and examining attorneys. It’s also helpful for law firms and businesses, who may want to check whether another business or entity is already applying to use an intended mark.

The system will provide you with updated trademark statuses and documents. However, don’t assume that the USPTO will always update you! Again, you (or your attorney) must check your registration status every few months.

Trademark Status Search

When you register a trademark in the TSDR system, you will receive a receipt with a registration number. You will then enter this registration number, or serial number, on the TSDR webpage to check your registration status.

You may also consider checking the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval (TARR) system.

Within TSDR, you can download documents that you’ve submitted and that the USPTO has uploaded. You can also search for documents by criteria such as:

  • Current owner
  • Attorney correspondence
  • Basic information
  • Mark information
  • Prosecution history
  • Goods and services

If you don’t use the TSDR system, you can lose money. This may be because you miss a filing deadline—and inadvertently abandon your application—or because you fail to file a necessary document.

If you need assistance, you can also contact the Trademark Assistance Center.

Need Help with a Trademark Status?

If you need help with a trademark status check, working with a trademark attorney can help. Trademark attorneys know trademark law in and out, and can help you find the trademark filing you’re searching for.

Working with a trademark attorney can help you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing filing deadlines
  • Failing to follow up on document requests issued by the USPTO
  • Prolonging the registration process, which allows others to use the mark you’re applying for
  • Using an outdated postal address
  • Forgetting to check your spam folder for emails from USPTO

Contact us today at the Cueto Law Group for a free consultation.

Trademark Application Status Types and Meanings

When you apply to enter your mark on the federal trademark registry, the system will provide a trademark status. You should use the TSDR system to perform a trademark status check, which will show you one of several trademark status types.

Learn more about each type below.

What does under examination mean?

The very first status assigned to all completed trademark applications is “under examination.” At this point, the application is assigned to an examining attorney who performs an initial review. This typically lasts about four months.

Remember, to apply for a trademark registration, you must have a genuine intent to use the mark or must already use the mark in commerce.

What does office action issued mean?

During the period in which your application is “under examination,” the examining attorney will issue an “office action” if they find a legal problem with your application.

For example, geographic names or descriptive words are not registrable. Or maybe your mark is too close to a current trademark registered by someone else.

If an office action is issued, you have six months from the date of issuance to respond.

What does approved for pub principal register mean?

If the examiner finds no legal issues, the next step after “under examination” is “published for opposition.” You may also see “approved for pub principal register.” At this point, your trademark will be published in the Official Gazette, which is a weekly publication of the USPTO.

This serves as official notice to the public. Anyone who believes your trademark application should not be approved has 30 days to file an opposition.

What is a notice of allowance?

If there are no oppositions—or if you defeat them—the examiner will issue a “notice of allowance.” At this point, there is a six-month window during which you must provide a statement of use. You can also request a six-month extension to file the statement of use if needed.

What does abandoned or dead mean?

If you fail to respond to a request by the USPTO or miss a filing deadline, your application will be considered “abandoned” or “dead.” Although you may refile your application at a later date, any other business or individual may begin using your mark. What’s more, the application itself is a public document. This means that once you file, anyone can see your mark.

What does registered mean?

Once your status is “registered,” you have a protected, officially registered federal trademark. You’re done with the process and now have full rights as outlined by the Trademark Act. These rights include using the mark on goods and services and transferring use to others through trademark assignment.

Key Takeaways

The trademark registration process can be complex and time-consuming. While the process takes on average about 18 months, an unexpected increase in applications can prolong the process.

In any event, the most important thing you can do is responsibly monitor your application’s status. Keep track of new document requests and deadlines. You may also want to make sure that nobody else has applied with a mark resembling yours. The TSDR system will become your best friend during this process.

FAQs

How do I know if my trademark is approved?

Use the USPTO’s TSDR system to track your trademark application’s status. The process begins as “under examination.” It moves through several steps, but your mark isn’t officially approved until the status changes to “registered.” Before your mark is officially registered, you may also have common law trademark rights.

How long does it take to get a trademark approved?

The timeline for the trademark application process varies. For marks already in use or for which you have a bona fide intent to use, the process may be shorter than for a mark registered under the Madrid Protocol. The USPTO estimates the process to take 18 months on average.

Where do I go to find Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR)?

You can use the TSDR (Trademark Status & Document Retrieval) tool. The USPTO TSDR is a tool maintained by the federal government and made available for free to all users. The USPTO trademark document retrieval function lets you submit documents and respond to requests by the USPTO.