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OTHER ITA SITES:
Before You Apply For A Patent Make Sure You Read The Following
You've got a great new concept. You've invented something so unique that it's worthy of patent. Or is it?
Surely no one has already come up with such a unique concept or product. Or have they?
The PTO is, as the federal patent source in the United States, also the storage facility for all patent information in the country. In fact, it's here where you can find many patents from other parts of the globe as well. Here, therefore, is where you'll need to go to find out if you're really going where "no one has gone before."
The U.S. PTO is housed in Alexandria VA and you're welcome to visit the facility and browse the files on active, retired and pending patents in person. Here you'll find all patents from 1790. While those awarded prior to 1920 are simply listed, without backup details, and those 1920-1970 offer a little more detail, any patent issued from 1971 to the present is available in its entirety - application and backup and process details included - on microfilm or disc.
For those who wish to search without a trip to the Virginia PTO office patent information is available online for post-1976 patents, or you can visit the nearest Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL). Rather than regional PTO offices, these are actual libraries - public, university or state-run - that have applied for, and been granted PTDL status. Since its 22-library inception in 1871 the PTDL system has grown to more than 80 facilities.
The informational details you'll be able to find on each patent, whether design, utility, plant or reissue patent, will include statutory invention registrations, certificates of reexamination, and the current status of the patent subsequent to its issuance. You will also be given access to the patent and trademark sections of the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as well as every PTO index, directory and tools for a patent search.
The U.S. PTO suggests that you use this seven-step process for your patent search:
(1) Start with the Index to the U.S. Patent Classification, which is divided alphabetically, offering a search by use, structure, end product and effect. You'll want to make note of any relevant classification and sub-classification numbers;
(2) Next go to the Manual of Classification and search out the noted classifications and sub-classifications;
(3) Read the Classifications Definitions publication, which will give you better clarity on whether the patents you've noted are closely aligned with your new concept;
(4) Peruse the Patent Titles and Abstracts, which will, with patents subsequent to 1920, offer more detail on each patent you've chosen to explore;
(5) Now access the Subclass Listing, which will display all patents from 1790, and even current applications not yet approved or finalized, that fall under the sub-classification you've determined may be similar to your new product;
(6) Next you'll go to the patents section of the Gazette and explore the summary of those patents shown in the subclass that you think are similar to yours;
(7) Your last step is to look at the details of those you think may be relevant. This is done through a perusal of the Complete Patent Document.
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