Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos, answered that question by stating, “PTRCs serve as the face of the USPTO in local communities and promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that ensures that potential filers have the local resources necessary to draw on for support as they begin their quest for commercial success with their intellectual property.” With that in mind, let’s examine these centers a little closer.
How do PTCRs Serve Their Local Communities?
The Patent and Trademark Resource Centers Program (PTRCP) manages a network of public, academic and state libraries across the country that are designated as PTCRs. PTCRs are authorized to (1) make available patent and trademark information and (2) support the diverse intellectual property needs of the general public. There are currently over 80 designated PTCRs nationwide.
What Resources do PTCRs Offer Inventors?
In order for a library to become a designated PTCR, they must meet or exceed certain basic requirements. While PTCRs do not provide legal advice, they must offer patent and trademark training, public access to products and services, reference assistance and outreach to the public.
They must also provide access to a core collection of reference materials and tools, as stipulated by the USPTO. This core collection includes, among other things, utility, design and plant patents, published patent applications, reissue patents, trademark registrations, the Official Gazette of the USPTO, a variety of patent and trademark search tools, a collection of USPTO tools, handbooks, manuals, guides and general publications and a list by state, name, and address of attorneys and agents authorized to practice before the PTO.
How can PTCR Library Staff Assist Inventors?
PTCR representatives are not attorneys and are therefore not qualified to offer legal aid, but they can still be quite helpful. Their services include, but are not limited to, the following:
Classes on intellectual property (depending on location)
Access to resources like examiner-based search systems including PubEAST and PubWEST
Assistance on how to research historical patents and trademarks
Help finding assignee information
Demonstrations of how to track current research by nonprofit or company
Information about application processes and fee schedules
Assistance conducting patent and trademark searches
PTCRs are truly valuable resources for anyone who owns intellectual property. If you would like to find the PTCR closest to your home, click here. As always, if you find yourself in need of legal assistance even after visiting a PTCR, feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help with any patent, trademark or copyright questions you may have.
Kelly G. Swartz is a patent attorney licensed to practice in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in the state of Florida. She limits her practice to intellectual property law including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.