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The Patent & Trademark Resource Center

About the Center


The San Diego Public Library (SDPL) is an officially designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center that is part of a nationwide library network maintained by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Patent searching is an often time-consuming and complicated process that may require the assistance of a patent attorney or patent agent. As such, the SDPL staff members are not able to conduct patent searches for you and cannot provide legal advice. The library’s staff can, however, assist you in finding reference materials that allow you to conduct your own research.

The USPTO website is an excellent (and free) starting point for patent and trademark property research.  Among other things, it has information on fees, filing, patent searching, and finding registered patent attorneys and agents. You do not need to come to the SDPL to access the USPTO website, but SDPL has additional resources (legal self-help books, brochures, and PubEAST) that you may find useful after your preliminary research on the Internet.
The Patent and Trademark Resource Center is located at the Central Library. For hours of the Central Library, please see our Location Information hereFor information about parking and public transit at the Central Library, please see our Parking Information here. 
If you would like to schedule a patent or trademark search appointment, please give at least one week's advance notice.
PTRC Coordinator: Azalea Ebbay | Phone: (619) 238-6683 | Email: [email protected]
Alternate PTRC Coordinator: Franco Rodriguez | Phone: (619) 702-8703 | Email: [email protected]


What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.
This right was established over 200 years ago in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
For more details, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office's introduction to patents.

How to Get Started

The below listed and downloadable documents will help get you started on your patent research process.


As a Patent and Trademark Resource Center, the Central Library provides access to the Public Examiner's Automated Search Tool (PubEAST),  a powerful database that allows for sophisticated search queries, simultaneous searching of the USPTO, EPO abstracts, and JPO abstracts. Whereas PatFT, the search engine on the USPTO's website, is only keyword searchable back to 1976, PubEAST's OCR backfile allows keyword searching between 1920 and 1975. PubEAST also allows users to download patent data in spreadsheet format and to save search query histories.
PubEAST is available for use at the Central Library Monday through Friday during regular operating hours. There are two (2) dedicated public computers on the 3rd Floor to use in searching PubEAST; note that all users must be trained in using PubEAST before they can use these computers for searching.

Useful Websites

  • United States Patent & Trademark OfficeLearn about the patent application process. Search for patents and published patent applications. File your own patent application.
  • Conociendo sobre la Propiedad Intelectual - En el presente site podrá encontrar información relevante sobre todos los aspectos de la propiedad intelectual. Para mayor información u orientación, favor visitar o hacer cita en el Centro de Recursos de Patentes y Marcas de la Biblioteca General del Recinto Univresitario de Mayagüez de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.
  • European Patent OfficeThe official website of the European Patent Office (EPO). Find information on applying and searching for patents, legal issues on patents, patent grants, rules and regulations about European and international patent applications.
  • WIPO - World Intellectual Property OrganizationWIPO is responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through co-operation among States and for the administration of various multilateral treaties dealing with the legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property.
  • Japan Patent OfficeLearn about intellectual property in Japan.

U.S. Patent Search Tools

  • PatFTKeyword search patents back to 1976, or search all patents by classification or patent number.
  • AppFTSearch patent applications published since 2001.
  • PAIR - Patent Application Information RetrievalGet information about a patent application's status.
  • Patent Assignment SearchSearch for Patent Assignment information beginning August 1980.
  • Official Gazette for PatentsThe Official Gazette for Patents allows you to see patents issued each week and is available online for the past year. You can browse by classification or type of patent.

Foreign Patent Search Tools


What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Throughout this guide, the terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks.
Visit the USPTO's Trademark Basics page to learn more.

How to Get Started

The downloadable documents below will help get you learn more about trademarks and the trademark search process.

Videos about Trademarks

Watch the videos below to learn the basics about trademarks. More videos are available on the USPTO's Trademark Information Network (TMIN).
  1. Introduction to the USPTO and Trademark Basics
  2. Before You File
  3. Searching
  4. Applicant Information
  5. Drawing Issues

Useful Websites

Trademark Search Tools

Trademark Symbols

A trademark can be claimed with the letters TM written in superscript: TM

A service mark can be claimed with the letters SM written in superscript: SM

A trademark or service mark that has been registered with the USPTO is signified by the letter R with a circle around it: ®


What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
Original works of authorship include literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
For more, please see the U.S. Copyright Office's downloadable PDF icon Copyright Basics.

Useful Websites

Copyright Search Tools

Copyright Symbols

The copyright symbol for works other than sound recordings is the letter C with a circle around it: ©
The copyright symbol for sound recordings is the letter P with a circle around it:
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