This is the "Home" page of the "Patents and Trademarks" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Patents and Trademarks  

Patent & Trademark basic information, databases, links for legal and status information
Last Updated: Jul 13, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Home Print Page

Patent & Trademark Resource Center

The Engineering & Physical Sciences Library is the College Park Patent & Trademark Resource Center

EPSL became a Patent & Trademark Depository Library January 1984; renamed PTRC October 2011

PTDLP logo

Getting Started

The U.S. Government grants a patent to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States."

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, which identifies the source of goods or services of one party from those of another.

  • How to Conduct a Preliminary U.S. Patent Search
    Watch this helpful 36 minute video offering a step by step strategy to searching for patents.
  • USPTO Web Patent Databases
    * Search full text of U.S. Patents 1976-Present
    * Search by patent number, and US Patent (USPC) classifications 1790-present; IPC and CPC classifications being added, currently back to early 1900s, with many from 1800s. **NOTE: USPC no longer being revised as of 2013**
    * Full text PDF images from 1790-Present; quick print/download
    * The Advanced search page explains index fields (title, claims, current class, inventor, etc.)
    * Many records cite earlier technology: US patent numbers, foreign patent numbers, articles, books, technical reports, and company catalogs
    Note: Patent Applications database (2001-present) is in a separate file.
  • WIPO "Patent Basics" Tutorial
    This World Intellectual Property Organization tutorial has 3 sections: Patent Basics, Patent Search and Retrieval, and Patent Analysis. "Each section contains interactive tutorials followed by story-based exercises to help you put the theory into practice."
  • World Intellectual Property Organization's Guide to Using Patent Information
    A helpful guide that includes a brief overview of what patents are, how they are used, and the basics of searching.
  • Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment Tool
    To promote knowledge and provide personalized training resources for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and inventors.
  • General Information Concerning Patents
    *Same field codes as USPTO web databases
    *Search granted patents and pre-grant publications together
    *Includes European and WIPO patents, Japanese Patent Abstracts, and Non-Patent Literature cited in patents.
    *Advanced Search includes proximity search [full text search is limited to 1976-present]
    *Fast downloading, printing, and exporting to spreadsheets.
  • Google Patents
    Google Patents has OCR search for most U.S. patents since 1836. One of the quickest sources for displaying, printing and downloading full-text. For more advanced searching of later patents, try (full text search 1975-present) or Espacenet (title/inventor 1920-1975; full text 1976-present)

Patent News in Lay Person's Terms

Inventive Step is a blog dedicated to a discussion of patent law issues and strategies and focusing on new developments in patent law.  The blog focuses primarily on court decisions, legislation, and new Patent Office regulations, but may also cover other news and commentary on issues of relevance to patent professionals, inventors, technology companies, and others having an interest in patent law.

Loading Loading...
blank padding

Patent Search Aids

Cooperative Patent Classification (in Esp@cenet)
Search by CPC code or by words/phrases from the CPC code descriptions. Esp@cenet also allows search by International Patent Classification (IPC). IPC numbers are similar to CPC but not as specific - use IPC for broader search, CPC for more precise search.

USPTO's Classification Search Page
As of April 2014, USPTO's Manual of Classification allows search by classification codes only. To search by keywords or phrases in descriptions of classes, use EPO's new Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) word search at

USPTO Patent Classification site and links
Information and links to the new Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), indexes of rough CPC equivalents to old US Patent Classification (USPC), Concordances for USPC and IPC (International Patent Classification), Indexes to the old USPC, Classification Orders (revisions in the old USPC), and more.

Index to the United States Patent Classification System
Publication Date: NO LONGER UPDATED as of about 2013
USPC classification uses a very limited number of words to describe classes; sometimes you need to figure out "patentese"/"legalese"; but it can be useful as an alternate classification system, or for historical patent searches.

News and information on Cooperative Patent Classification - EPO - USPTO
Publication Date: January 2013
Modeled on European Patent Classification (ECLA), but has more finely divided subjects than either ECLA or US Patent Classification (USPC). Search the CPC Manual at under "Classification"

International Patent Classification search
Search and Browse IPC codes, for use in Esp@cenet, Depatisnet, Japan's IPDL, US, and other databases. IPC looks like the new CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification), but has much broader categories. Use CPC for more precise searches.

Cover Art
Patents for beginners - David Pressman and Richard Stim
Call Number: EPSL Reference KF3114.6.P738 2000


Patent Expiration Date Calculator

This calculator provides a best estimate of the expiration date of a utility, plant, or design patent, based on a comprehensive list of factors than can be found in USPTO records.  Download Calculator 

Before relying on an expiration date, individuals should always carefully inspect all relevant documents available through the USPTO, court records and elsewhere, and consult with an attorney.


Profile Image
Jim Miller
Contact Info
Engineering & Physical Sciences Library
University of Maryland
College Park MD 20742-7011
301-405-9152 (leave message)
301-405-9157 (EPSL Reference)
Email is checked often
Send Email

Helpful Sources

Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association "Handout Central"

Patents Guide by Mike White. Queens University, Ontario.

End-User Patent Searching Using Open Access Sources by Pat LaCourse. Engineering and Science Librarian. New York State College of Ceramics.

Patents Guide: "Help for Researchers". British Library

"Patents, Copyrights, & Trademarks"  , by National Paralegal College.  Extensive guide; made for a college audience but recommended to us by a teacher of advanced middle school students.


Loading  Loading...