The following is a transcript of an episode of the Tricks of the Trade(mark) podcast, listen to the episode here.
In my practice working with clients to protect trademarks and build bold brands, I am online nonstop, and there are a few key tools that I come back to over and over again. I wanted to share them with you:
First of all, of course, is the USPTO’s website, which is www.uspto.gov. When I say PTO, I mean Patent and Trademark Office, which is the federal government agency that handles trademark registrations and applications. Within the USPTO’s website, there are many, many useful pages:
- One is called TSDR, used for checking the current status and document history for any registration or application.
- Another is the ID manual, which helps create acceptable descriptions of goods and services.
- One USPTO page extremely useful is what we use to search for conflicts all the time, called TESS, or the Trademarks Electronic Search System It is a complicated Boolean search database, but it is extremely useful once you know how to use it.
- Another tool online provided by the USPTO is the Official Gazette, which is where recently approved applications are published in the public record.
- Finally, one last tool from the USPTO that’s very useful is the TMEP, or Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure, which provides sort of regulations, and rules, and cases about all of the different substantive and procedural issues related to trademark applications. It is not the law itself. It is not a government regulation. But it is a government manual that is extremely useful.
Unfortunately, most of these USPTO webpages are not mobile friendly, and they’re not available at this time on an app, and that’s something that I’ve been pushing and lobbying the USPTO to change.
Another useful resource, of course, is just your basic search engine. Whether it’s Google, or Bing, or something else, is searching for clients, searching for competitors, searching for other potential infringements, or other potential conflicts of a new name. Search engines, we use them all the time. A great free website is called timeanddate.com. This website has all kinds of calendar tools on it. It will tell you about timezones. If I needed to know a deadline that was six months from last Friday, you can put in last Friday, and add six months, and it’ll tell you the exact deadline, so you can docket and calendar it. And you can subtract dates from it, so it has all kinds of great tools related to dates, and calendars, and time.
A tool that I use all the time to help create evidence of use to submit to the US Patent and Trademark Office, whether it’s with an application or with a renewal, it’s called FireShot. I believe there’s a free versions and a paid version. It’s a browser extension that works with all the leading browsers. It helps take a snapshot of a webpage or a snapshot of your screen, to be able to save it in different formats, and put a title on it, and put the date on it, a very useful tool in creating evidence in a lot of different trademark scenarios.
And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the one that I’ve built, which is called SofTMware, S-O-F-T-M-W-A-R-E, at softmware.com. There, you can create a secure, cloud-based account to monitor any applications or registrations, whether they’re yours, or a competitor’s, or they’re just interesting, or whether they’re potentially blocking your applications, and you can monitor the status there, and it will email you updates when status changes, and things like that.
Those are some of my favorite resources for working in the field of trademarks. Is there a resource you use all the time for trademarks that I missed? Let me know in the comments.