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The Patent & Trademark Resource Center

Patent & Trademark Resource Center logo

The San Diego Public Library 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 .

Upcoming Events

Thursday, September 19, 2019 | 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. | Central Library, Mary Hollis Conference Center
Are you starting a small business? An attorney from San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different business entity operations, including the potential fees, tax implications, and liability protections.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. | Central Library, Mary Hollis Conference Center
Every small business owner needs contracts to facilitate strong relationships and protect their assets. Come learn about contract basics, common contract myths and best practices for your business operations.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. | Central Library, Mary Hollis Conference Center
You may be one of thousands of people who start businesses each year in order to sell products and services. Find out about how intellectual property law may apply to your business.

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:

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.
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