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Patents & Trademarks

Photo of a US patent.

The Indianapolis Public Library is a Patent and Trademark Resource Center. We receive materials from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These resources include help guides, videos, search software, and the full text of United States patents.

Getting Started with Patents and Trademarks

Patent Process Overview
This section of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) website provides a detailed 8 step overview of the patent process.

Trademark Process Overview
The USPTO’s 6 step overview of how to file a trademark.

Patent Search Tutorials

7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy GuideThis guide demonstrates how to identify Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes, how to search PatFT, and broaden a patent search.

How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search
These slides from the USPTO explain in more detail how to conduct patent searching.

Public and Free Patent Search Resources

This resource is provided by the European Patent Office (EPO). U.S. and worldwide patents can be searched using this tool. Espacenet has information about inventions dating back to 1836.

Google Patents
This search engine is great for beginning a patent search and contains patent information dating back to 1790. Patent documents found in this resource should also be searched in Patent Public Search or Espacenet to make sure the most current versions have been located.

Patent Public Search
Patent Public Search is now available through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. This new searchable database is the official replacement for PubEAST, PatFT, and AppFT. Patent Public Search allows for searching of pre-grant applications from March 2001-Present and full-text U.S. patents from 1970-Present. The database does contain some searchable scanned patents before 1970 and searching for some of the earliest patents dating back to 1790 can only be done using classification and patent number searching only.

This resource contains information on U.S. patents from 1976-Present, U.S. Applications from 2001-Present, and patent information from the EPO, World Intellectual Property Organization, and some Australian patent documents.

Public and Free Trademark Search Engines

The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) can be used to search federally registered trademarks.

The state of Indiana’s database can be searched to see if a trademark/service mark is being used by anyone locally.

European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
TMview is a database managed by the EUIPO that has trademark information from 66 trademark offices including the USPTO.

Type your idea for a trademark into search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or Amazon to see if other companies are using the name for a product or service. This particular technique is good for finding unregistered trademarks.

Other Patent and Trademark Resources

Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP)
The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure provides instructions and guidelines regarding the overall examination and prosecution of patent applications that have been submitted to the USPTO. Patent examiners who review the patent applications submitted by inventors and their attorneys or patent agents are required to follow these guidelines when reviewing the applications. Inventors and their attorneys or agents who draft the application are also required to follow the guidelines presented in this manual.

Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP)
The TMEP can be used to learn about and search for the practices and procedures the USPTO follows pertaining to trademarks.

Trademark ID Manual
Trademark applicants can add an international class number to their application for an identified good and/or service. The trademark ID manual allows you to search for the correct number. These international class numbers can be used to search for trademarks in TESS as well.

Design Search Code Manual
Each image or design that is trademarked is assigned a design code. These trademarked designs are categorized by a six-digit number. This manual can be used to identify a code to search in TESS.

Virtual Training

Patent, Trademark, and Intellectual Property Training
The USPTO offers free virtual training sessions from their headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia and through their regional offices across the country. Entrepreneurs, inventors, and people with a general interest in intellectual property are encouraged to sign up and participate in these free online sessions, which are scheduled throughout the year.

Request an Appointment

A library staff member can provide a demonstration on how to conduct patent and trademark research and help connect you to information related to intellectual property. Call the library at 317-275-4100, press 4 from the list of extensions, and ask to speak with the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Representative or patent librarian to schedule an appointment.

The library cannot conduct legal research for you or provide any legal advice. Consult an attorney if you need this type of assistance.

Pro Bono or Free Legal Help

There are nationwide programs that provide inventors and entrepreneurs with pro bono or free assistance in drafting and filing patent and trademark applications. In the state of Indiana, there are law school clinics where law school professors and students can be matched up with inventors or entrepreneurs to provide assistance. The professors typically supervise the students throughout the assistance process. Some of the nationwide law school clinics can also provide assistance to applicants who do not live in the state where the law school is located.

One of the requirements for applicants to be accepted into these programs is an annual income level that is below 300% or 3 times the federal poverty guidelines. For example, a single person can have an income level below $40,770 and meet the income requirement for the law school clinics. This income amount of $40,770 is 3 times the 2022 federal poverty level of $13,590 for a one-person household in the 48 mainland states and The District of Columbia.

Attorney Searches

Find a Patent Practitioner
This website link allows users to search for attorneys or other registered individuals who are eligible to represent and file patent applications on behalf of inventors before the USPTO.

Need help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text or email Ask-a-Librarian.

Additional Questions and Resources

How can I protect myself against patent scams and trademark fraud?

Patent Scam Prevention

The USPTO has a Scam Prevention section of their website that gives disclaimers regarding some invention promoters or promotion firms. This section of the USPTO website clarifies the limitations the USPTO has in investigating scams, and the resource contains additional guidance on how inventors or their representatives can file complaints against invention promoters or firms and have the complaints published in an online USPTO forum.

The Scam Prevention resource also contains guidance on how to search the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website to see if an invention promoter or invention firm has been investigated or fined. Website links to information about court cases between the FTC and invention promoters are included. Links to information regarding disciplinary action taken against certain invention promotion firms by the FTC is also included. The Scam Prevention website also lists the information that invention promoters or invention firms are legally required to disclose before agreeing to a contract with inventors.

The USPTO has a two-page handout, and the first page of this resource lists tips on how to identify the warning signs of an invention promotion scam.

Trademark Fraud

The USPTO offers an additional section of their website that is dedicated to warning trademark applicants and owners about trademark-related solicitations. The trademark solicitations revolve around mail, emails, or texts that offer services from potentially legitimate companies, but these offered services are not required as part of the trademark process. In some cases, scammers request payment for trademark fees that are not due. The trademark solicitation section of the USPTO’s website answers other questions related to the solicitations such as how to tell the difference between a fraudulent trademark offer and legitimate USPTO correspondence and offers examples of misleading solicitation notices.

Is there a Local Inventors Club?

The Indiana Inventors Association is a group whose members are inventors, engineers, small business owners and others. They publish an informative monthly newsletter which offers interesting articles along with the announcement of the program for the next monthly membership meeting. These educational programs about inventing, patenting, marketing, venture capital, etc. are dinner meetings held the first Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m.