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Trademark Law Research Guide: Introduction

Introduction to Trademark Law Research

Trademark law allows sellers or providers of goods or services to distinguish their products from others in the marketplace with identifying words, logos, or symbols.  Federal trademark law grants protection to federally registered trademarks, but federal registration is not required for trademark protection.  State laws and common law also create trademark rights. 

Trademark law research involves primary legal sources such as statutes, cases, and administrative law--potentially, at both the state and federal levels.  Legislative history research can be necessary to ascertain the legislative intent behind particular statutory language.

In most instances, it is best to begin your research with a review of secondary sources and practice aids such as research guides, background materials, treatises, and law review articles. Secondary sources help you frame your questions before you begin researching "the law" and often provide references to primary sources, rules, or forms. As you continue your research, you may want to consult current awareness tools to keep current on legal developments that may affect your research.

This guide is designed to point out the best sources available for trademark research at BU.  Some of the resources are free Internet sources, but many are subscription services available to members of the BU Law community.  Where possible, this guide will link to other guides which can provide even more detail or resources on a particular subject. 

I want to ...

Find a Copy of a Bill Currently Under Consideration

1. Go to

2. Search for the Act Name

3. Select the Text Tab

Need more? Check out the Statutes & Legislative History tab.

Conduct a Federal Trademark Image Search

1. Go to TESS, the Trademark Electronic Search System

2. Use the Design Search Code Manual

3. Find the appropriate code

4. Run a Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured)

5. Enter the code and choose the "Design Code" field

Need more? Check out the Trademark Searching tab.

Conduct a Federal Trademark Word Search

1. Go to TESS, the Trademark Electronic Search System

2. Run a Basic Word Mark Search

Need more? Check out the Trademark Searching tab.

Conduct a Domain Name Search

1. Run a Whois Search, with "Domain" selected

Need more? Check out the Trademark Searching tab.

Find Decisions from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board

1. Go to the BNA Intellectual Property Law Resource Center

2. Use the USPQ Headnote Finder on the homepage

3. Select the USPQ Trademark & Unfair Practice Cases Classification Outline

4. Choose the Classification Number for the topic you're interested in

5. Select "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board" as your court and Search

Need more? Check out the Decisions and Regulations tab.

Find Foreign Trademark Legislation

1. Go to WIPO Lex

2. Under the IP Legislation Tab, select your country of interest

3. Select Trademarks as the Subject Matter, and Search

Need more? Check out the Foreign & International Law tab.

Subject Guide

Jenna Fegreus

Table of Contents

I.  Introduction

II. Secondary Sources

  • Special Collections of IP Resources
  • Trademark Research Sources: Print & Online
  • Finding Law Journal Articles
  • Study Aids for Trademark & IP Law
  • Trademark News: Keeping Up with New Developments
  • Trademark Blogs

III.  Practice Aids

  • Books about Trademark Law Practice
  • Finding Trademark Forms
  • USPTO Manuals, Guides, and Resources

IV.   Statutes & Legislative History

  • Federal Trademark Statutes
  • Compiled Federal Legislative Histories at BU
  • Tracking Legislation
  • Finding Other Legislative History Information

V.    Decisions & Regulations

  • Trademark Regulations: C.F.R. & Fed Register
  • Federal Trademark Cases & Agency Decisions
  • Tracking the USPTO
  • Bluebook Rules for Citing USPTO Materials

VI.   Trademark Searching

  • Books on Trademark Searching
  • Trademark Searching Resources
  • Official Gazette for Trademarks

VII.  State Trademark Law

  • State Trademark Statutes
  • Massachusetts Trademark Law
  • Searching & Registering State Trademarks

VIII. Foreign & International Law

  • International Trademark Resources
  • Treaties on Trademarks
  • Foreign Law Trademark Research
  • Keeping Current on International Trademark Issues
  • Books for International and Foreign Research