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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

July 9, 2024 @ 11am – 12:30pm -- VIRTUAL

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 1: Fundamentals

Are you a small business owner or entrepreneur interested in learning about trademarks and how to apply for a federal registration? If so, this event is a must-attend. In this first module of our eight-part virtual Trademark Basics Boot Camp, we’ll focus on trademark protection in the United States. The event is free, but space is limited, so register early.

This module will cover the following topics:

  • Definitions and types of trademarks
  • Benefits of federal registration
  • Selecting a trademark
  • Filing and registration
  • Finding help 

July 10, 2024 @ 11am – 12:30pm -- VIRTUAL

Successful Inventing: Product development

Are you new to the invention process? If so, register today for the fourth event in the Successful Inventing series, presented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Licensing Executives Society - Silicon Valley Chapter. 

During the fourth session, focused on product development, we will address the following topics:

  • Product design vs. product engineering
  • Design it, develop a complete product, sell it before you make it, obsolete the competition
  • Determine what people want, before they know they want it
  • What is your market advantage?


July 17, 2024 @ 8:30am – 10am – VIRTUAL

SOaR presents: How to use Patent Public Search tool to search like an examiner

SOaR will provide virtual training on how to use PPUBS, with live search demonstrations from an expert who will highlight techniques examiners use.

The PPUBS training will include:

  • A demonstration of how to use Patent Public Search tool 
  • Explanation of how examiners search
  • Live search examples

Though SOaR training events are free to the public, preregistration is required


July 24, 2024 @ 11am – 12:30pm – VIRTUAL

Successful Inventing: Your elevator pitch and plan

Are you new to the invention process? If so, register today for the fifth event in the Successful Inventing series, presented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Licensing Executives Society - Silicon Valley Chapter. 

During the fifth session, focused on your elevator pitch and plan, we will address the following topics:

  • What is your message? Short and to the point.
  • What do companies expect to see from inventors?
  • What companies to approach and why?
  • What are the licensing odds for success?

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.