TMEP / General Information

Chapter 100 General Information

General Information
101 Trademark Statute and Rules

The federal registration of trademarks is governed by the Trademark Act of 1946,15 U.S.C. §§1051et seq. (also known as the Lanham Act), and 37 C.F.R. Parts 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 11.  The text of the Act and rules can be accessed and downloaded from the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") website athttp://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/tmlaw2.pdf.

102 United States Patent and Trademark Office Website

The USPTO websitehttp://www.uspto.gov provides access to a wide variety of information about patents and trademarks, and offers electronic filing of trademark documents.

The Trademark Electronic Business Center on the USPTO website contains all the information needed for the entire registration process.  A customer may search the Trademark database for conflicting marks using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), file applications and other trademark documents online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), check the status of applications and registrations and view and print images of the contents of trademark application and registration records through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) portal athttp://tsdr.uspto.gov/.  SeeTMEP §104 regarding TESS,TMEP §108.01regarding TSDR,TMEP §109.01 regarding electronic image records, andTMEP §301 for further information about electronic filing.

Trademark information available for downloading from the USPTO website includes the trademark statute and rules,Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure,Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Manual of Procedure,Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual,Federal Register notices,Official Gazette notices, examination guides, and fee schedules.

Certified or uncertified copies of trademark documents can also be purchased over the Internet.  SeeTMEP §111 for further information.

103 Trademark Forms

Trademark documents should be filed electronically through TEAS, on the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/teas/index.jsp.  SeeTMEP §301 regarding TEAS.  Appropriate forms are available online athttp://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/teas/forms-index.jsp.

Requests for recordation of assignments and other documents affecting title to an application or registration can be filed through the Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS) athttp://etas.uspto.gov.

The Electronic System for Trademark Trials and Appeals (ESTTA), athttp://estta.uspto.gov/, must be used to file requests for extensions of time to oppose, notices of opposition, petitions to cancel, appeals, motions, briefs, notices of change of address, and other documents in Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board" proceedings.

104 Trademark Searching

X-Search, the USPTO's computerized search system, contains text and images of registered marks, and marks in pending and abandoned applications.  X-Search is used by examining attorneys when searching for conflicting marks during examination.

The public may conduct searches free of charge using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) on the USPTO website athttp://tmsearch.uspto.gov.  Like X-Search, TESS provides access to text and images of registered marks and marks in pending and abandoned applications.  Additional information, including current status, for pending trademark applications and registered trademarks can be obtained by entering the trademark serial number or registration number in the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database.  SeeTMEP §108.01.  TESS and TSDR are available in Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) (seeTMEP §112).  

The public may use the X-Search system and view the internal Trademark database without charge in the Public Search Facility, which is located on the first floor of the James Madison Building - East Wing, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays within the District of Columbia.  The Public Search Facility also contains copies of State emblems and official signs and hallmarks of member countries of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which are protected under Article 6ter of the Convention (seeTMEP §1205.02). The Public Search Facility does not contain copies of the official insignia of state- and federally recognized Native American tribes. X-Search or TESS can be used to search for these insignia.

If a mark includes a design element, it can be searched by using a design code.  To locate the proper design code(s), the public can use theDesign Search Code Manual on the USPTO website athttp://tess2.uspto.gov/tmdb/dscm/index.htm.

For some marks, the USPTO has added a pseudo mark to the search data to assist users in identifying relevant marks related to their search term.  The "pseudo mark" field, which is not displayed, often contains spellings that are very similar or phonetically equivalent to the word mark.  For example, if "4U" appears in the mark, the term "for you" would be added to the pseudo-mark field.  This provides an additional search tool for locating marks that contain an alternative or intentionally corrupted spelling for a normal English word.  Pseudo mark entries are not displayed or printed in the search results and are not part of the official application or registration.

USPTO personnel cannot conduct trademark searches for the public.  A private trademark attorney will obtain a search and provide an opinion on the availability of a proposed mark, for a fee, prior to filing a trademark application. To find the names of private attorneys who handle trademark matters, consult telephone listings or the attorney referral service of a state bar or local bar association (see American Bar Association Lawyer Referral Directory).  The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of an attorney, nor can the Trademark Assistance Center provide any legal advice. See37 C.F.R. §2.11.

The public can search the trademark assignment records of the Assignment Recordation Branch on the USPTO website athttp://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments.  Assignment records can also be searched in the Public Search Facility.  SeeTMEP §503.08 for further information about the accessibility of assignment records.

105 General Information Booklet Concerning Trademarks

The booklet entitledBasic Facts About Trademarks contains information and instructions for registering a trademark or service mark.  The booklet can be accessed or downloaded from the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov/, or may be obtained by calling TAC.  SeeTMEP §108.02 regarding TAC.

106 TheOfficial Gazette

TheOfficial Gazette ("OG"), issued every Tuesday, is a publication of the USPTO, which is available free of charge on the USPTO website.

Trademark Official Gazette ("TMOG").  The TMOG, posted athttp://www.uspto.gov/news/og/tindex.jsp, contains an illustration of each mark published for opposition on the Principal Register, marks registered on the Principal Register under15 U.S.C. §1051(d), and marks registered on the Supplemental Register on the date of the particular issue in which the marks appear.  Effective July 15, 2003, the USPTO publishes the TMOG only in electronic form.  See notice at68 Fed. Reg. 37803 (June 25, 2003).

USPTO Notices.  The TMOG does not contain USPTO Notices.  Such notices are posted separately in the general information section of theOfficial Gazette, athttp://www.uspto.gov/news/og/index.jsp.  This section includes such general information as notices of changes in rules or Office procedures for both patents and trademarks; notices to parties who cannot be reached by mail; and indices of trademark registrations issued, renewed, cancelled, amended, or corrected on the date of the particular issue in which the marks appear.

Effective January 1, 2008, the USPTO discontinued the separate weekly publication of USPTO notices in paper form.  See notice at72 Fed. Reg. 72999 (Dec. 26, 2007).

108 Status Inquiries
108.01 Internet Information

The Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database on the USPTO website athttp://tsdr.uspto.gov/ provides detailed information about the status and prosecution history of trademark applications and registrations.  The TSDR database is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The TSDR database is normally updated shortly after our internal databases are updated. However, the TSDR database may not reflect changes in ownership that have been recorded in the Assignment Recordation Branch.  There are circumstances in which the Trademark database will be updated automatically upon the recordation of a change of ownership.  SeeTMEP §504.  In all other cases, the new owner must separately notify the Trademark Operation in writing of the recordation of a document, and request that the Trademark database be updated manually.  SeeTMEP §§503.01(a),504.01, and505-505.02.

Information about documents recorded with the Assignment Recordation Branch can be viewed though Assignments on the Web (AOTW) athttp://assignments.uspto.gov.

See alsoTMEP §109.01 regarding public access to electronic images of the contents of trademark application and registration and Board proceeding records.

108.02 Personal Telephone Assistance

If additional information regarding the status of an application or registration is required, callers may telephone TAC at (571) 272-9250 or (800) 786-9199 and request a status check.  TAC also provides general information about the trademark registration process.  Telephone assistance is available from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays within the District of Columbia.  Walk-in service is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays within the District of Columbia.

The Trademark Assistance Center will gladly answer questions about the application process.  However, USPTO employees cannot:

  • conduct trademark searches for the public (seeTMEP §104);
  • comment on the validity of registered marks (seeTMEP §1801);
  • answer questions as to whether a particular mark or type of mark is eligible for registration;
  • offer legal advice or opinions about common-law trademark rights, state registrations, or trademark infringement claims; or
  • aid in the selection of a private trademark attorney or search firm (37 C.F.R. §2.11).

See TMEP Chapter 1800 regarding public inquiries about applications and registrations.

108.03 Due Diligence:  Duty to Monitor Status

Trademark applicants and registrants should monitor the status of their applications or registrations in cases where a notice or action from the USPTO is expected.  Inquiries regarding the status of pending matters should be made during the following time periods:

  • (1)         During the pendency of an application, an applicant should check the status of the application every six months between the filing date of the application and issuance of a registration; and
  • (2)         After filing an affidavit of use or excusable nonuse under §8 or §71 of the Trademark Act, or a renewal application under §9 of the Act, a registrant should check the status of the registration every six months until the registrant receives notice that the affidavit or renewal application has been accepted.

Should the status inquiry reveal that a document is lost, that no action has been taken regarding correspondence that was submitted, or that some other problem exists, the applicant or registrant must promptly request corrective action.  37 C.F.R. §2.146(i).  Failure to act diligently and follow up with appropriate action may result in denial of the requested relief.  The USPTO may deny petitions to reactivate abandoned applications and cancelled registrations when a party fails to inquire about the status of a pending matter within a reasonable time.  SeeTMEP §§1705.05 and1714.01(d).

Written status inquiries are discouraged, because they can delay processing.  Whenever possible, status inquiries should be made through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database.  If additional information regarding the status of an application or registration is required, callers may telephone TAC at (571) 272-9250 or (800) 786-9199.

109 Access to Records

18 U.S.C. §2071  Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally.

(a)

Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b)

Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.  As used in this subsection, the term "office" does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

37 C.F.R.  

Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, access to the file of a particular pending application will be permitted prior to publication under §2.80 upon written request.

37 C.F.R.  

Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, the official records of applications and all proceedings relating thereto are available for public inspection and copies of the documents may be furnished upon payment of the fee required by § 2.6.

37 C.F.R.  

Anything ordered to be filed under seal pursuant to a protective order issued or made by any court or by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in any proceeding involving an application or registration shall be kept confidential and shall not be made available for public inspection or copying unless otherwise ordered by the court or the Board, or unless the party protected by the order voluntarily discloses the matter subject thereto.  When possible, only confidential portions of filings with the Board shall be filed under seal.

In order to inspect the contents of a trademark application or registration record, it is not necessary to show good cause or to have a power to inspect from the applicant or registrant.

109.01 Electronic Image Records

The public may view and print images of the contents of trademark application and registration records through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database on the USPTO website athttp://tsdr.uspto.gov/.  Electronic images of Board proceeding records are also available on the USPTO website athttp://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/.  TSDR and TTABVUE are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge.

The public may also view and print images of the contents of trademark application and registration records in the Public Search Facility on the USPTO premises.  SeeTMEP §402.

109.02 Paper Files

The USPTO does not create paper files for trademark applications or retain paper copies of trademark-related documents that are submitted to the USPTO in paper or electronic format.  Incoming papers received in the USTPO are scanned into the electronic record and retained for one year, after which they are destroyed. See notice at77 FR 3745 (Jan. 25, 2012). A request to correct the electronic record regarding a paper scanned into the electronic record should be addressed to tmscanning@uspto.gov no later than one month prior to the expiration of the one-year retention period.

Furthermore, the USPTO does not generate paper documents, except for the original notices or Office actions that are by mailed to applicants or registrants who have not authorized communication by email and certified copies of trademark documents requested by the public.SeeTMEP §111. All documents related to a U.S. trademark application, registration, or international application can be viewed and printed through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database.  

Older paper files for abandoned applications and cancelled and expired registrations may be destroyed two years after the date of abandonment, cancellation, or expiration.See notice at 980 TMOG 16, reprinted at 1232 TMOG 625 (March 21, 2000).  SeeTBMP §120.03  regarding the retention schedule for the files of terminated Board proceedings.

SeeTMEP §503.08 regarding the accessibility of assignment records.

109.03 Making Copies of Materials in Records

The public may print images of the contents of trademark application, registration, and Board proceeding records through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database or TTABVUE on the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov.  SeeTMEP §109.01.  The public can also print electronic copies of records pertaining to applications or registrations through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) (seeTMEP §104), and prosecution histories through TSDR (seeTMEP §108.01) on the USPTO website.  There is no charge for use of these databases.

The public may also print trademark documents in the Public Search Facility on the USPTO premises.  There is a fee for printing images of documents in the Public Search Facility.  SeeTMEP §104.

SeeTMEP §111 regarding requests that the USPTO provide copies of trademark documents.

110 Decisions Available to the Public

37 C.F.R.  

Decisions of the Director and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in applications and proceedings relating thereto are published or available for inspection or publication.

Precedential decisions of the Director and the Board are noted as such and published in the United States Patents Quarterly (cited as USPQ or USPQ2d), which is a periodical reporting service of a non-governmental publishing company.  The USPTO does not print these decisions in its own publications.  Non-precedential decisions of the Director and the Board are not published.

Both precedential and non-precedential decisions are available for viewing, downloading, and printing via TTABVUE.

A weekly summary of final decisions issued by the Board appears on the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov and in each issue of theOfficial Gazette.

SeeTMEP §1803 regarding decisions that are available under the Freedom of Information Act.

111 Requests for Copies of Trademark Documents

The public may print images of the contents of trademark application, registration, and Board proceeding records through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) database or TTABVUE on the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov.  SeeTMEP §109.01.  The public can also print electronic copies of records pertaining to applications or registrations through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) (seeTMEP §104), and prosecution histories through TSDR (seeTMEP §108.01) on the USPTO website.  There is no charge for use of these databases.

The public may purchase certified copies of trademark documents (application or registration records, trademark title and status reports, etc.) through the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov/trademark/contact-trademarks#OrderDocs.  Fee schedules are posted on the USPTO website.  Requests for certified copies of trademark documents are handled by the Document Services Branch of the Public Records Division of the USPTO and delivered by the United States Postal Service. Owners may request a duplicate copy of their registration certificate by filing a petition to the Director of the USPTO.SeeTMEP §1601.01(b).

Requests for certified copies of trademark documents may also be mailed to:  Mail Stop Document Services, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, P. O. Box 1450, Alexandria VA  22313-1450.  37 C.F.R. §2.190(d).

112 Patent and Trademark Resource Centers

There is a network of PTRCs throughout the United States that provides access to many of the same products and services offered at the USPTO.  A list of the PTRCs and their telephone numbers appears on the USPTO website athttp://www.uspto.gov and in each issue of theOfficial Gazette.

Information available free of charge at the PTRCs includes the text of the trademark statute and rules (seeTMEP §101); theTrademark Manual of Examining Procedure;Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Manual of Procedure;Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual; and the Trademark Electronic Search System.  Photocopiers are generally provided for a fee.

The scope of PTRC collections, hours of operation, services, and fees (where applicable) may vary from one center to another.