Searching for a Knock Out? Meet TESS

At the Project GATE class on entrepreneurship legal issues that I taught yesterday morning at Duquesne University, I stressed that before using a new trademark, it is important to know if anyone has prior rights in a similar or identical mark. A "screening" or "knockout" search will spot obvious conflicts.

If the mark survives the knockout search, this does not mean that it can be safely used without infringing the rights of others. The knockout search should be viewed as preliminary in all respects. If you find that your proposed mark is the same or confusingly similar to an already registered mark, you may consider the mark to be "knocked out", and determine that you are better off looking for a new mark. If the mark survives the knockout search, a more thorough search by a professional search firm or attorney should be conducted.

To conduct a basic "knockout" search you really should meet TESS. TESS is for the new web Trademark Electronic Search System of federally registered and pending marks that is part of the trademarks section of the US Patent and Trademark Office. TESS has 40 search fields, including owner name and address, priority date, pseudo marks and translations, live/dead status, section 8 and 15 affidavits, and intent-to-use, and it is FREE on the PTO web site.