[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) that’s provided through the USPTO website isn’t the most user-friendly system for trademark searching. For example, the structured search form on TESS only allows up to two terms to be combined by a boolean operator in a single query, and if the user wants to include more than two terms in the query, they must use the command-line “Free Form” interface to conduct their search. Help options are available on TESS, but the help materials are mostly available on a separate “TESS Help Menu” page, accessible through a small “Help” option in the menu above the search forms. A small “quick tips” option and a menu of “US Trademark Field Codes” are available on the “Free Form” interface, but the user must scroll to the bottom of the page or navigate to a separate webpage to view these help materials.
Luckily, there is an alternative. Minesoft TMQuest is a free searchable trademark database that covers US registered trademarks from 1881 to present, and the site was created by Minesoft, the company that also produces the subscription patent search system PatBase. TMQuest is an excellent alternative to TESS for preliminary US trademark searches (although professional trademark searches should be utilized if a comprehensive search is needed). Read on to learn about the useful features of TMQuest that make trademark searching more user-friendly, such as a detailed advanced search menu with help materials integrated into the search form.
Search Options on TMQuest
A quick search form is located on the TMQuest homepage, and users can search through this form by keyword. An advanced search form is also available through a link on the homepage, and the advanced form allows users to search simultaneously through a variety of fields, including:
- Mark (keyword search, with option for “exact match only”, “auto-stemming”, and “synonyms searching”. Boolean operators are also accepted.)
- Status (active/inactive/all)
- Serial/Registration number
- Date (filing, registration, or publication)
- International Class
- US Class
- Design codes
- Goods and services
- Mark type (drop-down menu)
- Design description
- Mark drawing code (drop-down menu)
The user can mouse over each field in the advanced form to view further information or instructions on entering the query. A design code lookup is also included by the “Design Code” field, and users can select from a menu of available International Classes and US Classes by clicking on their fields. As users type in the fields, suggested terms automatically appear below the form in a drop-down menu.
Besides the quick and advanced search forms, users can also browse marks by Top 500 Companies, Categories/Classes, Design, Filing Date, and Serial Number.
Viewing Results on TMQuest
Search results are organized in a hit list that the user can sort by relavence, mark name, filing date, or owner name. Users also have the option to return to the advanced search form to refine their current search, or they can start a new search in a cleared form. Each result listing includes basic bibliographic information (mark names, owner, serial number, filing date, and International Class), as well as a thumbnail image of the mark. 10 results are displayed on a single page, and navigation arrows at the top and bottom of the page allow the user to navigate to “Previous 10” or “Next 10.”
The user can mouse over the linked text in the results to view additional help information and definitions of International Class codes.
Users can select the mark name or select the “more info” option under each listing to expand the record and view all available bibliographic information. Within the full record, a user can print the record, view the legal status (within the TARR web server), or view the original documents for the record (on the USPTO website). The user may also select International Class, US Class, and Design Search codes to conduct a new search using that selected code as the search criteria.
Minesoft is known for integrating links to free resources into the PatBase search system to provide additional information on patent documents, such as legal status information from external national legal status register sites. TMQuest uses a similar technique of linking to free resources on the USPTO site, such as a file of documents related to the trademark and the current legal status of the mark. Instead of navigating through the maze of search systems on the USPTO website, the user can find links directly to the needed information on a particular mark simply by viewing the full-text record on TMQuest. TMQuest makes the search process easier for users by integrating help information directly into the advanced search form and search results. The TMQuest advanced search form also allows the user to search within more than just two fields simultaneously. Overall, Minesoft has created a user-friendly alternative to the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), while still integrating many useful links to relavent data on the USPTO website.
TMQuest may make a preliminary search for US trademarks easier for a novice user, but a professional trademark search should be conducted for all legal or business purposes. Landon IP trademark search services include a federal trademark search, a federal and state search, a global trademark search, and a comprehensive common law trademark search.
Next time, we’ll look at another free database produced by Minesoft, which provides a user-friendly interface for searching FDA drug data!
Have you used any search systems produced by Minesoft, such as PatBase or TMQuest? How user-friendly was the system? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.