Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) are a nationwide network of public, state and academic libraries that are designated to disseminate patent and trademark information and to support the diverse intellectual property needs of the public. Using the collections of a PTDL with the help of a trained librarian, you may be able to determine if someone else has already patented your invention or obtained a federal registration for a trademark on goods or services similar to that you are seeking to use. These specialized librarians may also help you with specific questions regarding the patent and trademark processes, but they will not provide legal advice. These libraries contain collections of all types of patents issued in the US for at least the past twenty years (some PTDLs have US patents back to 1790). They also have facsimile images on CD of federal trademark registration certificates from 1870 to the present. The PTDLs have CD-ROM databases containing bibliographic information on registered trademarks and marks in pending applications. The PTDLs have other CD-ROM products that allow you to search U.S. patents and trademarks.
If you are ready to apply for a patent, we strongly advise you to contact a registered patent attorney or patent agent. The Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains a roster of both attorneys and patent agents who are registered to practice before the USPTO. Only attorneys or agents who are registered to practice before the USPTO are permitted to file and prosecute patent applications on behalf of others. This roster includes listings by geographical area. Roster of Patent Attorneys and Agents registered to practice before the USPTO.
If you are ready to apply to register your trademark, we strongly advise that you contact an attorney who is experienced in trademark prosecution. The USPTO does not maintain a roster of trademark attorneys. An attorney who is a member in good standing of a state bar association may prosecute your application for trademark registration. The USPTO cannot aid in the selection of an attorney and does not provide specific endorsements or recommendations of private attorneys.
If you would like assistance with financing and marketing your invention, please refer to the following:
- Small Business Administration (SBA) - offers local assistance (see Local SBA Resources)
Small Business Development Centers - provide advice and assistance to enhance the growth, innovation and productivity of small businesses