One of the more challenging aspects of clearing a design mark in the United States is finding similar marks that have already been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”).  Unlike searching words or phrases, designs are given codes (“coded”) based on 29 Categories found in the PTO’s Design Search Code Manual. (See

Design Categories:  For example, Category 4 covers supernatural beings, mythological or legendary beings, fantastical beings or unidentifiable beings that includes devils, angels, leprechauns, witches and super heroes. Also found in Category 4 are plants, objects or geometrical figures that represent humans or animals.  Each Category is divided into many sub-categories that further categorize the designs.  For example, there is a sub-category for mythological beings, superbeings, ghosts and aliens (04.01.07), sphinx (half human, half lion) (04.03.02) and plants, parts of plants, or combinations of plants representing a person (04.07.01). See below:

04.01.07    Mythological beings, superbeings, ghosts, aliens

1104.03.02    Sphinx (half human, half lion)


04.07.01    Plants, parts of plants, or combinations of plants representing a person


Conducting a Design Search:  To search the PTO website for designs coded, for example, as mythological beings, superbeings, ghosts and aliens (collectively “mythological beings”) go to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) at the USPTO and select Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form). Enter the design code 04.01.07 (removing the dots “.”) and add the design search code [dc] (i.e., 040107[dc].

All records that contain this design code will be disclosed in the search results. In this case there are 3,579 records that contain design code 04.01.07.

Undoubtedly, searching 3000+ records is too daunting. The search can be narrowed by other criteria such as a key word in the mark description [de] or by international class [ic]. For example, enter 040107[dc] and ghost[de]. The search results are narrowed to 134 marks that contain ghost designs. Examples below:

44design mark
Or the search can be limited to a certain class such as toys (Class 28) (040107[dc] and “028”[ic]). The search results change to 344 marks of mythological beings for toys.  Examples below:


to be continued…

Reported by: Mary B. Aversano
Aversano IP Law
Email: moc.walpionasrevanull@skramedarT

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