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The Patent & Trademark Resource Center

Patent & Trademark Resource Center logo



About the Center

The San Diego Public Library (SDPL) is an officially designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) that is part of a nationwide library network maintained by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The Patent and Trademark Resource Center is located on the 3rd floor of the Central Library. You do not need to visit SDPL in-person to access search tools, but the library provides certain resources (e.g. a current collection of full-color Plant patents, and legal reference books) that are only accessible in-person. 

Contact Us

PTRC Representatives are library staff who are information experts trained on how to use search tools to access patent and trademark information. Representatives can:

  • Demonstrate how to use search tools to conduct a patent or trademark search
  • Direct you to information and explain the application process and fee schedule
Please note: Patent searching often is a complicated process that may require the assistance of a patent attorney or patent agent. PTRC Representatives are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice. Staff can, however, direct you to lists of local patent attorneys who are licensed to practice before the USPTO.

For in-depth assistance, please contact Sarah Hendy-Jackson at or request an appointment below:

Special Events from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

    May 17, 2023 - VIRTUAL    
    Learn intellectual property basics with the USPTO 
    Are you interested in learning about intellectual property (IP) basics? During this training, experts at the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) will: 

    • Provide a brief overview of the different types of IP (patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights) 
    • Review the patenting process from invention, to application, to issue 
    • Cover the requirements for patentability 
    • Explain how to determine whether a provisional or nonprovisional application is right for you 
    • Discuss available programs and resources 

    May 23, 2023 - VIRTUAL   
    Resources for inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs 
    Are you new to the world of patents and trademarks and need some help? 
    In this event, experts from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will share its many resources to help you learn more about protecting your intellectual property. The session will also include information about the USPTO’s COVID-19 relief and assistance efforts. 

    May 31, 2023 - VIRTUAL   
    2023 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program: Inspiration for innovation 
    The 2023 Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program offers opportunities for independent inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to learn about resources available to the AANHPI innovation community. 
    Get inspired by stories of excellence from AANHPI leaders in innovation and learn how you can find support and secure funding for your big ideas by registering today. 

    June 8, 2023 - VIRTUAL   
    Proud Innovation 2023, Part one: Business and funding 
    Are you looking for funding opportunities and information on how to grow your business? Are you curious about how intellectual property (IP) protection can help? Then join us for Proud Innovation 2023, part one: Business and funding on June 8 from 3-4:45 p.m. ET. where you will: 

    • Hear how LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and small business owners are making valuable contributions to local, regional, and national economies 
    • Learn what steps you need to take when applying for funding to jumpstart your business venture 
    • Discover the resources available to assist with growing your small business 

    June 21, 2023 - VIRTUAL   
    Proud Innovation 2023, Part two: Growth and success 
    Are you ready to build connections to foster growth? Do you want to learn from others who have achieved success on their innovation journeys? Then join us for Proud Innovation 2023, part two: Growth and success on June 21 from 3-4:45 p.m. ET.  

    • Discover how to build strong, supportive networks to grow your business 
    • Learn how those networks can help you expand your entrepreneurial skills 
    • Hear how LGBTQIA+ innovators turned their ideas into commercial successes 

    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.

    Useful Websites

    • United States Patent & Trademark OfficeLearn about the patent application process. Search for patents and published patent applications. File your own patent application.
    • USPTO Webinars - Free live webinars offered by the USPTO's Silicon Valley Regional Office.
    • 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

    • Patent Public Search -  Patent Public Search was created in 2022 to replace the Pub EAST and Pub WEST systems with a single, more robust online platform that provides the public access to search tools used by patent examiners. 
    • 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.

    International 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:

    Small Business Resources

    Provides local resource guide, workshops, mentoring, lending, contracting assistance
    San Diego District Office
    550 West C St., Suite 550, San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone: 619-557-7250 or 619-727-4883
    Provides free and low cost consulting and workshops.
    South San Diego SBDC
    880 National City Blvd., National City, CA 91950
    Phone: (619) 482-6391
    Provides free workshops, consulting, and networking.
    5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110
    Phone: (619) 260-4547
    Provides free mentoring, webinars, networking events, low-cost workshops.
    8825 Aero Dr., Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92123
    Phone: (858) 283-1100 | Email:
    Provides free business accelerator program for low to moderate income entrepreneurs and diverse founders, mentorship, and co-working space.
    404 Euclid Ave., San Diego, CA 92114
    Provides lending, mentoring, academy, and webinars.
    404 Euclid Ave., Suite 271, San Diego, CA 92114
    Phone: 619-795-7250 | Email:

    Legal Resources

    Provides free legal assistance in preparing and filing a patent application to financially under-resourced inventors and entrepreneurs.
    Supervised law school students provide free legal assistance to eligible clients.
    Find entire NOLO books and forms on patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyright, and creative arts & music. Follow the instructions to login.
    Provides legal services to low-income entrepreneurs and eligible microbusinesses and nonprofit organizations.
    707 Broadway, Suite 1400, San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone: 619-235-5656, ext. 130 | Email:

    Business Names

    What is a business name?
    Before you can register your business name, it is important to determine your business entity or structure. A business entity is an ownership structure that impacts how the business is taxed, financed, owned, managed, run, and also protected by insurance. The California Secretary of State recommends that you consult a private attorney and tax accountant for guidance on determining the best entity type for your situation. A business entity can be formed in California by registering the entity through the Secretary of State.
    For more information, visit the California Secretary of State website.
    What is a fictitious business name?
    If you plan to sell your products or services under a name that is not your official registered business name, you must file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the Recorder/County Clerk within 40 days of your first transacting business.
    For more information, visit the San Diego Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk website.
    What is a domain name?
    A domain name is the web address or URL where users can access a specific website. You can select an accredited domain registrar through the Internet's Network Information Center (InterNIC)’s Accredited Registrar Directory.
    For more information, visit the InterNIC website.