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Patent & Trademark Resource Center


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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 

September 7, 2023 - VIRTUAL
Intellectual Property Basics and Helpful Resources

Unfamiliar with patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets? Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from USPTO experts about intellectual property (IP) basics and potential ways to protect your innovation as you transition from idea to product. 

The Midwest Regional USPTO offers this session for aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators, and students the first Thursday of each month. Space is limited, so register early.

The discussion will cover:

  • An overview of intellectual property types: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets
  • Why innovators and entrepreneurs should consider protecting their IP
  • Local resources and assistance available through the USPTO and other agencies

September 15, 2023 - VIRTUAL   
Demo of the new trademark search system

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is holding virtual demos to introduce you to the new trademark public search system, show you the new system's capabilities, and prepare you for the transition from the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

This session takes place Friday, September 15, from 2-3 p.m. ET and will conclude with a question-and-answer period. The demos will be provided live via Webex. 

The event is free, but space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. For more information, or to submit your questions before the event, contact

September 21, 2023 - VIRTUAL  
Getting started with Patent Public Search

Are you puzzled by patent searching or confused by the patent searching options available on the internet? Whether you are a novice searcher or an experienced one, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is here to help.

Librarians from the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program, who are experienced with educating users on USPTO search tools, will show you how to use the new Patent Public Search tool. The virtual webinar will be held on Thursday, September 21, from 2-3 p.m. ET.

September 26, 2023 - VIRTUAL
First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program webinar

This free webinar is part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) efforts to encourage innovation by increasing accessibility to the patent system for inventors, including those in historically underserved geographic areas and economic groups, and will walk participants through the First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program benefits and eligibility criteria.

The First-Time Filer Expedited Examination Pilot Program supports inventors who have not previously participated in the patent application process. The benefits of this program are provided at no additional cost to the applicant. Patent applications accepted into this program will receive special status, which expedites the first office action on a patent application. The first office action is a patent examiner’s written notice of findings based on their initial examination of the patent application. Join us to learn more.

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 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.