Searches for patents and trademarks are useful since they can save an applicant time and money. Searches may be conducted at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia, by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, or at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) nationwide. Locate a PTRC near you.
The Main Library Reference Section (5th floor) houses the PTRC for Broward County and several surrounding counties that do not have a PTRC. There are specialized materials that are only available in the Reference Section or at other PTRCs. Furthermore, the staff in the Reference Section receives specialized training and is knowledgeable in how to find answers to a variety of intellectual property questions.
Performing a good patent search can be useful. One reason for doing a patent search is that one of the criteria for obtaining a patent is that it must be new. An item that is the same or similar to your invention could have been patented 50, 100, or even 200 years ago. If your invention is the same as an invention patented even 210 years ago, it is not considered to be new, even though the patent has long expired. Another reason for doing a patent search is that you need to cite similar inventions as part of the patent application.
Although patent searching is possible on the Internet, primarily at the USPTO website, searching for patents or trademarks should be initiated at a PTRC. Patent searching on the Internet may be complicated for novice searchers. Also, keyword searching is not recommended as many potentially relevant patents may be missed using this method. Searchers who visit a Patent and Trademark Resource Center will find information regarding the USPTO's recommended search steps provided in their web page The 7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy. Also, the USPTO’s computer based tutorial on patent searching.
Staff is available to assist in the use of these materials, but will not perform a patent search nor offer advice, interpretation, or opinion regarding the patentability of an invention.
For more information about patents please see General Information Concerning Patents at the USPTO's website.
Links to Patent Websites
Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Engineering, Industry, and Invention – This site has links to digital exhibits and collections hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. When you click on a link, you get information from the Smithsonian Archives about that particular item.
Espacenet – Databases for foreign patent searching hosted by the European Patent Office.
European Patent Office – The official site of the European Patent Office. Includes searching capabilities, attorney information, and much more.
WIPO Gold – This is a free public resource providing a one-stop gateway to WIPO’s (World Intellectual Property Organization) global collections of searchable intellectual property data.
Inventor Resources Website (USPTO) – Basic information for inventors with links to other related sites.
Japan Patent Office – The official site of the Japanese Patent Office. Includes information about the JPO as well as searching capabilities and related links.
Kids Page (USPTO) – Fun and interesting patent and invention information for kids. Also provides links to other U.S. government websites for kids.
National Archives and Records Administration – Provides information on Patent and Trademark Office records housed in the National Archives and Records Administration.
Statistical reports from the USPTO – Provides statistical information from annual reports and the Office of Technology Assessment and Forecast including statistics on numbers of patents granted - by country of origin, by state, metropolitan area, etc.
U.S. Court of Appeals – This court has jurisdiction to entertain appeals for decisions issued by the U.S. PTO's Board of Patent Appeals and Inferences.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Patent Laws, Regulations, Policies & Procedures - Patent Related Notices – U.S. PTO’s web page for notices related to patents. Sorted by year, this page includes requests for public comments on proposed regulatory rulemaking.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web Patent Database – U.S. PTO's website for searching full patent records or bibliographic patent information.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – This United Nations agency is "responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among" member countries "and for the administration of various multilateral treaties dealing with the legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property."
Other Patent Sites of Interest
American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law – This site has undergone more changes in the last few years than at any time in its history. The Section is committed to keeping its members fully informed of the latest developments in this ever-expanding field.
Collegiate Inventors Competition – A national competition administrated by the National Inventors Hall of Fame for college students designed to encourage activity in science, engineering, mathematics, technology, and creative invention and stimulate problem-solving abilities.
Spirit of Innovation Challenge - The Spirit of Innovation Challenge is an annual competition that challenges high school student teams to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to develop commercially-viable, technology-based products that address real-world issues. It is the Conrad Foundation’s flagship program. The Conrad Foundation was founded by Nancy Conrad, in 2008 and is based on the legacy of the late Apollo 12 astronaut and entrepreneur, Charles “Pete” Conrad.
The Faces of Science – Profiled here are African American men and women who have contributed to the advancement of science and engineering.
Index of Black Inventors by State or Country of Residence, 1834-2008 – A searchable and sortable spreadsheet database of Black inventors viewable in Microsoft Excel compiled by Margaret J. Collins, Springfield PTDL Representative, Illinois State Library(no longer a PTDL/PTRC), and formatted for Microsoft Excel by Eileen Fischlschweiger, Fort Lauderdale PTRC Representative, Broward County Main Library. This is one of the many useful resources found at the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Association (PTDLA) website.
The Invention Dimension (The Lemelson-MIT Awards Program) – Several awards programs all designed "to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs by celebrating, through awards and educational activities, living role models in these fields."
Inventors Digest – The site for the Inventors Digest magazine. Site includes some articles from the magazine as well as links to other sites, scam and legislation updates, and much more.
Inventors’ Society of South Florida – The site for South Florida's local non-profit inventor organization.
Inventure Place, National Inventors Hall of Fame – National Inventors Hall of Fame: programs and activities, searching for information on the inventors in the hall of fame, and information on Camp Invention.
National Congress of Inventor Organizations – This site has valuable information and links for inventors and those interested in patents.
Patent and Trademark Depository Library Association (PTDLA) – This site is an excellent resource that is a collected effort of the Patent and Trademark Depository librarians throughout the country. It includes useful information including materials for historical patent and trademark research.
Patently Absurd! Weird & Wacky Patents – Provides an assortment of weird inventions, including international patents.
Thomas A. Edison Papers – Information about the life of Thomas Edison, his patents, papers, companies, etc.
See also the Related Web Sites page at the USPTO website for further U.S. Government or other countries' websites.
Please send your questions and comments about these sites and suggestions for other sites to firstname.lastname@example.org.