Online US Trademark Number Searches
So it's time once again, and if no one has any complaints, I will resume my series of favorites, a third series, but this time trademarks. The first series should have been the second, and the second should have been first, but this one is definitely the third series.
Surely everyone must have guessed by now how highly I esteem the pen patents and designs, and the information that can be gleaned from them. Still, no matter how much I appear to appreciate them, it doesn't even come close to how I feel about the trademarks for pens and pencils and other writing instruments. This is where the great information lurks, and this is where my heart truly resides, in the labels and packaging and logos and boxes and insert papers and pamphlets and catalogues and advertizing images for pens and pencils and penholders and ink bottles, &c. I can't tell which comes first sometimes, but I think I truly love the pen trademarks more than the writing instruments that they contain and illustrate and represent.
Until quite recently, I was laboring under the misconception that the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Search System, TESS, was the only way to search the US trademarks, and that the only trademark images online were the live ones. Well, thanks to Roger Wooten, I have been disabused of that mistaken notion. He recently pointed me toward a search window that has been lurking in the USPTO website, buried in a long list of trademark services in a sidebar, drop-down menu. At first I thought that the only way to search for the trademarks online was to use TESS, the first and most obvious choice offered in that menu. It's a real shame, I thought, but almost all of the older ones, the ones issued to now-defunct companies, have either been removed from TESS, or they were never added in the first place. What a wealth of overlooked information! It almost seemed like an act of corporate vandalism.
They can still be searched in the hard-copy index at the patent depository libraries in most major US cities, but they are not fully searchable online, and the full illustrations and specifications are not there in TESS, for the most part. Of the trademarks that are in TESS, a few haven't been linked to their respective Registration Certificates, and the earliest ones go back only to the 1890s, because that's all that's available in the live trademarks. The rest are considered to be dead, and they really are dead for all intents and purposes to the online researcher using TESS. Any of the interesting older pen companies aren't included. If the company is defunct, their trademarks are not in TESS. But if a company had been absorbed by another larger company, then their trademarks might have been assigned to the bigger company. For instance, the Conklin trademarks aren't in TESS, but the Wahl-Eversharp trademarks are, because the company was absorbed by Parker. But there's another, better way to find full images of all the trademarks.
When I started researching the trademarks, the drop-down menu on the USPTO website was shorter and offered fewer alternatives. I noticed that the trademarks menu got longer a few years ago, so long that it extended beyond the bottom edge of my computer screen. Well, sometime ago when they made all those improvements, they added more items, up to a total of 21 numbered links. And way down off the edge of my screen in position 19, there it was, the "US Registration Certificates" retrieval page. Either it was there all this time, or it was added quite recently. It's a search window exclusively for trademark numbers, all the trademark numbers, dead and alive. And I already had all the numbers, so I had another of those eureka moments. I simply hit the ceiling when I realized that I could complete the trademarks, and at home, no less. Luckily I found out about it before the text of the first volume of the patent book was set for publication, just in time for me to completely uproot and refurbish and revise and rearrange and replant all those trademarks, basically to redo all the research on all the trademark numbers that I had found so far, and to find some new ones, too. Thanks, Roger. Often the trademarks mention old numbers in the specifications, and whenever I found a new one, I bumped everything forward to make room for it. There was also a link at position 6 in the long, drop-down menu called "View Full Files (TDR)", which led to the TDR Portlet. It also had all the images, but it was not quite as straight forward as the trademark number search page at position 19. But needless to say, both of these are still not as bad as TESS, so I won't bother teaching you how to use it, but here's how to search for the trademark numbers online using the other two methods.
1. First of all, go to the USPTO homepage, http://www.uspto.gov. The USPTO website has been completely revamped since Roger told me about this search function, and that long, drop-down menu has been removed, but here's the new search pathway.
2. The "Trademarks" menu is now at the center of the screen and consists of 9 numbered choices. The second choice down, "Search Marks", seems to be the obvious choice, but it's the link to TESS, so avoid it, unless you know that the trademark is live, or you want to search current or recent trademarks by word or name. Instead click on the "View Documents" link, item number 5. This is the new equivalent to the link at position 6 in the old menu.
3. This will bring up a new window with the "Trademark Document Retrieval" page, or the "TDR Portlet", http://tmportal.uspt...rnal/portal/tow. At this point you may choose to "Bookmark" this page to your "Favorites", to avoid going through the above steps in the future. Unlike the TESS system, there are no USPTO resources allocated to you for your search period, so there is nothing to be terminated after only a few minutes of inactivity. You can use four types of "Search Methods" at this point. When you click on the arrow next to the "Search Method" window you will get a drop-down menu with the four choices, "US Serial Nos.", "US Registration Nos.", "US Reference Nos.", and "International Registration Nos.". The Serial, Reference, and International numbers are internal, or institutional numbers that are either used infrequently, or unpublished anywhere except in the USPTO. They are not familiar to most researchers and collectors, so the most obvious choice is to search for the trademark number, also known as the registration number.
4. The retrieval system is designed to recognize five, six, or seven-digit numbers exclusively, so if the trademark number you wish to search is shorter than five digits, you will have to make up for the deficit by adding zeros at the front of the number to make the total at least five digits. And as with the patents, these numbers can be either with, or without commas. For example, if you are searching for trademark no. 155,044 for the word "Duofold", you can search for the numbers 155044, or 155,044, or 0155,044, and if you are searching for trademark number 19 for "Star" pencils, you can search for 00019, 000019, or 0000019. Type or cut-and-paste the number into the "Number" window, and either click on "Submit", or press Enter/Return on your keyboard.
5. On the next page you will see a highlighted link for the internal "US Serial Number". There you see an example of what the serial numbers look like. But there's still one more step. You have to click on the serial number, and then you get another page with a series of choices, but to see the trademark you have to click on the "Registration Certificate". The trademark images will appear as PDFs in a new pop-up window. You will have to go back to the previous window and click on "Select New Case" to start a new search for another number. Also, the default choice for the "Search Method" is always "US Serial No.", so make sure that you click on "US Registration No." for every trademark number search because it always reverts back to the default with every new search. You see what I mean when I say the "TDR Portlet" is not as straight forward? Well, here's a more straight forward search option.
6. Instead of doing your search on the "TDR Portlet", click on the "Retrieve US Registration Certificates" link in the menu to the left on that page. This will connect you with the "US Registration Certificates" retrieval page, or "Registration Certificate Portlet", or "RC Portlet", http://tmportal.uspt...egistrationcert. At this point you may choose to "Bookmark" this page to your "Favorites" instead of the one above. You can do only one type of search at this point, for trademark numbers, but you now have access to all the numbers in the patent book. The same rules apply for the proper format of the numbers. They must be composed of five, six, or seven-digits, and commas are allowed, but you may search for up to 25 numbers at one time. Type or cut-and-paste the number, or numbers into the long window, and then click on "Download and Save as PDF File" at the bottom to save the image, or click on "Print to My Printer" to print the image. You must click with your mouse because the Enter/Return button on your keyboard doesn't function as an Enter button here. Instead it acts as a Return button and simply moves you down another line in the long window.
7. To view, save, or print all retrieved trademark certificates, a PDF maker is required, not simply a PDF viewer. If you don't have a PDF maker, then you can use the TDR Portlet, which uses the PDF viewer resident on the USPTO website. No matter which Portlet you use, however, and again unlike the TESS system, there are no USPTO resources allocated to you for your search period, so there is nothing to be terminated after only a few minutes of inactivity. You are actually using your own PDF viewer to retrieve the images, so you can leave the screen dormant for as long as you want, and the system will not automatically end your search session. The PDFs of the "Registration Certificates" with full imagery of the trademarks are the equivalent of the TIFFs and BMPs of the patents and designs. Viewing the PDF images with a viewer such as Adobe Acrobat, however, is a lot slower and more time-consuming than using a TIFF or BMP viewer, since the image manipulation is more cumbersome and less responsive. For a new search, press "Enter Registrations" at the top of the page. Pressing "Back", or "Back Space" will disconnect you from the system, and you will have to click on the link in your "Bookmarks" again. There's only one benefit of the "TDR Portlet" over "RC Portlet". That PDF in the new pop-up window is supplied with a URL, a hyperlink shortcut to the actual trademark image, so a digital reference can be included in emails, or posted on message boards. There's only one small problem. The URL is a mile long, almost three lines long in 12-point type.
So all of the trademark images are there and "alive and well" after all, and I guess I might have to take back that jibe about corporate vandalism. Well, not quite, because TESS is still an inadequate search system.
After I found out about these search capabilities, I realized that I could create hyperlink shortcuts to the actual trademark images using the TDR search window, and I could then do a similar series of "Some Of My Favorite Pen Trademarks". You can also perform the searches yourselves by using the links to the RC and TDR search pages. So look out for a new series starting soon, here on Lion & Pen, and on FPN. I will also be posting links to this series on Pentrace. There are shorter versions of this post on the other pen message boards, but this is the longer version with the whole "whaling chapter" intact, that is, all the boring, detailed instructions for navigating the various TM portlets. Well, here goes. Here are some of my favorite US pen trademarks.
Online US Trademark Number Searches
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