September's advice article

Patent and Trademark Resources in Your Own Backyard

Many independent inventors have discovered that there is a free resource in their state, possibly even their own city, that they didn’t know existed to assist them on their quest to successfully protect and market their idea.  The USPTO partners with over 80 libraries in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to provide patent and trademark information via the Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) network. These libraries are patent and trademark centers where free information assistance is available to all. You can learn how to ask questions to help identify what may be invention scams, locate registered patent attorneys and do your own preliminary patent and trademark searches. Specially designated staff at these libraries are trained to show you how to perform a preliminary patent search or trademark search using the search tools on the USPTO Website. The libraries also have access to a public version of the Web Based Examiner’s Search Tool (PubWEST) and its powerful search features.  

These libraries make it a point to provide books or other information found at the library and point inventors to outside resources to learn more about moving from invention to the marketplace and other topics of interest to inventors and entrepreneurs. Many have partnered with local Small Business Development Centers, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and local inventor groups to provide useful programs. 

The PTDLs can also be a source for tracking down prior art disclosed in foreign patent publications and non-patent literature such as conference proceedings and dissertations. 

If you’re starting out and not sure where to get started, your local or state PTDL can help you on your quest.  Here is the PTDL nearest you.  This link will also be added to the Inventors Eye list of inventor organizations if you need it in the future.It’s advisable to call first and make an appointment with the PTDL representative on the library’s staff, especially if it’s your first visit.

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The USPTO gives you useful information and non-legal advice in the areas of patents and trademarks. The patent and trademark statutes and regulations should be consulted before attempting to apply for a patent or register a trademark. These laws and the application process can be complicated. If you have intellectual property that could be patented or registered as a trademark, the use of an attorney or agent who is qualified to represent you in the USPTO is advised.