"The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency responsible for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. On July 31, 1790, they first opened their doors and issued the first patent to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilization." - learn more. Patents and Trademarks can help protect an inventor or brand.


What is a patent?

A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. For more information, click here.

How to search for a patent

How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search: A Step by Step Strategy - Web Based Tutorial (38 minutes)"Patent for a camera by George Kodak, 1888"

The Seven Step Strategy - Outlines a suggested procedure for patent searching

A detailed handout of the Seven Step Strategy with examples and screen shots.


Patent Public Search
The Patent Public Search tool is a new web-based patent search application that will replace internal legacy search tools PubEast and PubWest and external legacy search tools PatFT and AppFT. Patent Public Search has two user selectable modern interfaces that provide enhanced access to prior art. The new, powerful, and flexible capabilities of the application will improve the overall patent searching process.

Google Patent Search
Search by subject or patent number. If you are not used to searching for a patent this is a good place to start. If you want to see what an old patent is like click on US388850A.


What is a trademark and a service mark?

A trademark includes 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. In short, a trademark is a brand name.

A service mark is 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 the services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.

What is the difference between TM and the R within the circle ®?

Use of the TM and SM symbols may be governed by local, state, or foreign laws and the laws of a pertinent jurisdiction to identify the marks that a party claims rights to. The federal registration symbol, the R enclosed within a circle, may be used once the mark is actually registered in the USPTO. Even though an application is pending, the registration symbol may not be used before the mark has actually become registered.

Read more with Trademark basics"The word Tesla as it appears in trademark application 6323811"

Search Trademarks here: Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS  


Patent and Trademark Process

Inventor & entrepreneur resources
Information for people who want to apply for a patent.

Patent process overview
The eight steps for obtaining and maintaining a patent.


Before you apply, you should search the USPTO's trademark database (Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS) to see if any trademark has already been registered or applied for that is similar to your trademark, used on related products or for related services.

Basic word mark search-Instructions
Use this option if you are searching based only on the words in the mark, the serial number, the registration number, or the owner name. This is the most straightforward Most limited search option

Word and/or design mark search (structured)-Instructions
Use this option if you are a novice TESS user.  This option allows you to search in any field and helps you construct and format your search criteria.

Word and/or design mark search (free-form) -Instructions
This is an advanced search for experienced users.

In the News

Adidas loses stripes row trademark battle with luxury designer Thom Browne (BBC News) January 13, 2023

What Does It Mean to Trademark a Color? The signature shade of Marrakesh’s Jardin Majorelle is legally protected—but the deep blue hue is also common in Moroccan culture. Atlas Obscura, January 27, 2023

Joel Embiid’s ‘Trust the Process’ trademark application is about more than toys, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan 30, 2023

Do you know these inventors? Click on the image to learn more.

"Marian Rogers Croak" "James West" "Ellen Ochoa"" Alfred Yi Cho Alfred Yi Cho "