IP Basics - Other
- How do I finance and/or market my invention?
The USPTO does not provide assistance on financing or marketing your invention.
We have provided links to these sites because they have information that may be of interest to our users. The USPTO does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites. Further, the USPTO does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides excellent information on starting, planning, marketing, obtaining venture capital and financing a small business. The SBA also provides training and counseling.
- Do I need to hire a lawyer or agent?
The patent application process is complex. The USPTO cannot assist in the preparation of patent application papers. If you are ready to apply for a patent, we strongly advise you contact a registered patent attorney or agent. Although the USPTO cannot recommend any particular attorney or agent, we do maintain a roster of patent attorneys and agents registered to practice before the USPTO. Only registered attorneys and agents may help others to obtain patents.
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.
- What is the role of the USPTO?
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the patent and trademark laws as they relate to the granting of patents for utility inventions, designs and plants and the issuing of trademark registrations. The USPTO examines applications for patents to determine if the applicants are entitled to patents and grants the patents when they are so entitled. It examines applications for trademark registration to determine if the applicants are entitled to register their trademarks and issues trademark registrations. The USPTO publishes issued patents, approved trademark registrations and various publications concerning patents and trademarks; records assignments of patents and trademarks; and maintains search rooms and a national network of Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries for the use by the public to study issued patents, registered trademarks, and pending trademark applications and records relating to both patents and trademarks. It also supplies copies of records and other papers.
- What free assistance is available from USPTO?
Free basic information on the patent and trademark system, forms, fees, products and services of the USPTO is available by calling the USPTO's toll-free line, 800-PTO-9199 or by calling 571-272-1000. An automated message system is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day providing informational responses to frequently asked questions and the ability to order certain free documents. Customer service representatives are available to answer questions, send free materials or connect you with other offices of the USPTO from 8:30 AM - 8:00 PM ET, Monday-Friday excluding federal holidays. The customer service representatives can transfer your call to the Inventors Assistance Center or the Trademark Electronic Business Center for responses to practice and procedure questions. Much of this information is also available at the General Information section.
- What is a trade secret?
A trade secret is information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors. No mechanism exists to federally record or register a trade secret.
- Is there such a thing as an international trademark?
No. But you can obtain trademark protection in a number of countries by filing a single "international application" under the Madrid Protocol.
The "Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks " (Madrid Protocol) is an international treaty that allows a trademark owner to seek registration in any of the countries that have joined the Madrid Protocol by filing a single application, called an "international application." The International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland administers the international registration system.
You can apply for one online by using the USPTO's electronic Madrid Protocol forms.
Learn more about the Madrid Protocol from the USPTO.
- What is intellectual property?
- Can I obtain international patent protection for my invention?
Since the rights granted by a U.S. patent extend only throughout the territory of the United States and have no effect in a foreign country, an inventor who wishes patent protection in other countries must apply for a patent in each of the other countries or in regional patent offices. Almost every country has its own patent law, and a person desiring a patent in a particular country must make an application for patent in that country, in accordance with the requirements of that country. There are two treaties that provide for international protection.
One is the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property which governs 140 participating countries, including the United States. It provides that each member country guarantees to the citizens of the other countries the same rights in patent and trademark matters that it gives to its own citizens. The treaty also provides for the right of priority in the case of patents, trademarks and industrial designs (design patents). This right means that, on the basis of a regular first application filed in one of the member countries, the applicant may, within a certain period of time, apply for protection in all the other member countries. These later applications will then be regarded as if they had been filed on the same day as the first application. Thus, these later applicants will have priority over applications for the same invention that may have been filed during the same period of time by other persons. Moreover, these later applications, being based on the first application, will not be invalidated by any acts accomplished in the interval, such as, for example, publication or exploitation of the invention, the sale of copies of the design, or use of the trademark. The period of time mentioned above, within which the subsequent applications may be filed in the other countries, is 12 months in the case of first applications for patent and six months in the case of industrial designs and trademarks.
The United States is also a participant in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which governs over 100 member countries. The PCT provides a centralized, standardized application process for filing a single application that can result in patent protection in any number of designated member countries. The timely filing of an international application affords applicants an international filing date in each country which is designated in the international application and provides (1) a search of the invention and (2) a later time period within which the national applications for patent must be filed. A number of U. S. patent attorneys specialize in obtaining patents in foreign countries.
Under U.S. law it is necessary, in the case of inventions made in the United States, to obtain a license from the Director of the USPTO before applying for a patent in a foreign country. Such a license is required if the foreign application is to be filed before an application is filed in the United States or before the expiration of six months from the filing of an application in the United States unless a filing receipt with a license grant issued earlier. The filing of an application for patent constitutes the request for a license and the granting or denial of such request is indicated in the filing receipt mailed to each applicant. After six months from the U.S. filing, a license is not required unless the invention has been ordered to be kept secret. If the invention has been ordered to be kept secret, the consent to the filing abroad must be obtained from the Director of the USPTO during the period the order of secrecy is in effect.
The USPTO is the National Office for the United States and acts in the following capacities provided for under the PCT - Receiving Office, International Searching Authority, International Preliminary Examining Authority, and Designated/Elected Office.
Learn more about the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the USPTO.
- Is there help to enforce trademarks, patents and copyrights overseas and stop pirated or counterfeited goods?
- How do I find out if I need a patent, trademark or a copyright?
Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights are three types of intellectual property protection. They are different and serve different purposes.
Patents protect inventions, and improvements to existing inventions.
Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. Service marks include any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.
Copyrights protect literary, artistic, and musical works. For general information, publications and other copyright related topics, you may visit their Web site at http://www.copyright.gov . Copyrights information can be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559 or you may call 202 707-3000 or 202 707-6737 (TTY).
- How do I apply for a copyright?
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not register copyrights. Copyrights cover literary, artistic, and musical works. Copyrights are registered at the Copyright Office, Library of Congress. Information concerning copyrights may be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559, or you may visit their web site at: http://www.copyright.gov. Copyright Office specialists are available to answer questions by phone Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Recorded copyright information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may contact the Copyright Office at 202 707-3000 or 202 707-6737 (TTY).
Strategy for Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP) - Basics
- How does the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) help innovators stop fakes?
The USPTO leads efforts to develop and strengthen both domestic and international intellectual property protection and advises the Secretary of Commerce, the President of the United States, and the Administration on patent, trademark, and copyright protection.
- examines and grants patents;
- examines and registers trademarks;
- provides the public with a consolidated source of information about international intellectual property protection organizations on their International Intellectual Property webpage;
- is an active participant in the International Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Training Database effort hosted by the Department of State that is used to provide training and technical assistance relating to protecting IPR. The USPTOalso provides training to customs officers from other countries on techniques that can be used to detect potentialIPR violations;
- provides support for international treaty negotiations, and represents United States interests regarding intellectual property rights.
- provides an attorney-advisor from their Office of Enforcement to serve as an international intellectual property attach© at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.
Bulk Data Product - Other
- What XML resources are available at the USPTO to process bulk data?
Bulk data uses different versions of XML depending on the year of data publication. Links to older versions of the documentation may be found at https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/xml-resources.
The USPTO generally does not update old files when it migrates to a new XML version, so users accessing data from different years may need to use multiple DTDs associated with the corresponding XML version to process the data.
- Who do I contact for more bulk data information?
Questions and suggestions can be directed to email@example.com
- How do I view bulk data?
The bulk data can be viewed with an XML reader. A generic XML reader can extract the XML element structure. In order to perform useful automated processing with the documents, however, a program needs specific knowledge of the XML schema used, which the USPTO has documented.
The concatenated XML documents in the ZIP files, which have file extension "XML," are not the same as standard XML files and therefore will not be immediately readable by an ordinary XML parser. Instead, the files must be broken into individual XML documents, by splitting them apart at the XML declarations and/or DOCTYPE declarations.
- Where do I find XML format documentation for patent and trademark bulk data?
Documentation for bulk patent and trademark data may be found at: https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/xml-resources
The documentation includes machine-readable Document Type Definitions (DTDs) and human-readable documentation for the XML formats used by an XML programmer wishing to extract information from the XML files.
- Are there any restrictions on using the bulk data products?
There are no restrictions on the use of the data in these products, unless otherwise prohibited by law or specific agreement.
- What is Extensible Markup Language (XML)?
XML is a standard way of storing structured data. It is hierarchical and can be applied to many situations (in this case to patent grant and published application information). In general XML files are designed to be used by programmers with specialized tools. For background information, a good reference is the Wikipedia XML article.
- How current are the bulk data products?
Bulk data products are available on the date of publication.
- How large are the bulk data products?
Individual bulk data files generally range in size from a few Megabytes to several Gigabytes. Collections of data can be several Terabytes.
- What types of patents are included in the bulk data products?
Patent bulk data includes:
- Design Patents
- Plant Patents
- Reexamination Certificates (available only in Patent Grant Image files)
- Reissue Patents
- Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) documents
- Utility Patents
- Why is there a fee for some bulk data products?
The USPTO plans to eventually provide all bulk data products online at no charge. Most bulk data products are already available from the USPTO for no charge. A few bulk data products are available from USPTO for a fee, either because they are provided on physical media or because of bandwidth considerations. USPTO has made these products alternatively available online and at no charge from Reed Tech Patents or Reed Tech Trademarks.
- How do I find bulk data products?
Bulk data products are generally organized by type of intellectual property: patents or trademarks. Then they are organized by issue date or publication date.
Patent data includes patent grants and patent application publications with image only, text, text and image, and bibliographic; and additional information such as patent assignments, maintenance fee events, etc.
Trademark data includes application and registration images, application text, assignment text, and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) text.
Download bulk data: https://eipweb.uspto.gov/soms/, http://patents.reedtech.com, or http://trademarks.reedtech.com.
- Do I need patent or trademark bulk data products?
Most members of the public do not need patent and trademark bulk data products. Bulk data is likely to be used by researchers, commercial vendors, academics and consultants.