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How To Look Up Your Financial Trademark in 10 Easy Steps

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Step 1 – Go to the USPTO website

Step 2 – Search TM database (TESS)

  • Click on the “Trademarks” tab.
  • It will reveal subnav options.
  • Click on option 3, “Search TM database.”

Step 3 – Select the New User Search Form

  • When you get to the landing page of the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), click on the first option, “New User Form Search (Basic).”
  • You can experiment with the other search forms later, but the basic search form is easy and works great.

Step 4 – Enter your search term

  • Type your word into the provided field and hit the “Submit Query” button.
  • In this example, we’re looking up trademarks for the word “Cornerstone.”

Step 5 – Review your results

  • The USPTO will generate a full list of every trademark for companies, products and services in every industry, both active (LIVE) trademarks and DEAD ones.
  • In this example, there are 447 live and dead trademarks for “Cornerstone.”

Step 6 – Refine your search

  • To limit your search results to just trademarks in the financial industry, you have to modify your search. In the “Refine Search” field, add this: “and 036[IC].” What you’re doing is telling the system to just search trademarks in “International Class 036,” whish is the USPTO’s category for financial services.
  • Note: For some reason, TESS adds parentheses and the word [COMB] in brackets to your search term. Add your refined search parameters after this.
  • If you want to look at the complete list of the USPTO’s International Classes, you can check them out here, on page 3. They have categories for lubricants (004), rubber goods (017), and toys (028).

Step 7 – Review your refined search

  • You used to have 447 records to sort through – too many!
    Now you have only 124 – much more manageable.
  • You can refine your search even further, because your 124 records include both LIVE (active) trademarks and DEAD (abandoned) trademarks.

Step 8 – Refine your search even further

  • To only display LIVE (active) trademarks, add the following into the “Refine Search” field: “and LIVE[LD]”

Step 9 – Review your final results

  • Now you’re looking at only LIVE trademarks for “Cornerstone” in the financial industry.
  • You’ve cut your results from 447 in all industries, to 124 in just financial services, to now only 60 (that’s still a lot of “Cornerstones.”

Step 10 – Examine specific records

  • You can click on any record to get greater details.
  • This record says this specific “Cornerstone” focuses on real estate trust services, REITs, etc.

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  1. I could not agree more! Having come from the banking world where trademark protection is routinely taught and practiced, I was surprised to find that so many credit unions are quite cavalier in their approach to naming.

    There are two very basic phases to choosing a name and they’re both surprisingly specialized( which is why the advice of using a firm with experience in name selection should be well-considered).

    First, you have to choose a name or moniker that is applicable to your organization or your product. Does it apply? Will the reader readily be able to pronounce it? Is it too regional or culturally-based? And then there are the psychological ramifications. What image does it conjure up in the reader’s mind? Are there any potential unintended connotations? Lots to consider.

    At the same time all the legal issues Jeffry noted above still apply. Once you have selected a name (or short list of candidates) they must be “cleared” by your legal staff. And here is where I highly recommend the help of a competent trademark attorney. While no one may be using the name you have in mind, you may have inadvertently chosen a name that comes close enough to a protected brand that confusion may arise. And if that confusion is with another brand having deep pockets on the legal side, prepare to receive a cease and desist letter right away. Again, a very costly situation.

    A quick search on the USPTO’s site should always be your first stop. I don’t even suggest any new name to my boss before doing a cursory Web search and a PTO search using TESS.

    Great advice.

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