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Patent and Trademark FAQs

Laws and Regulations

Patent & Trademark FAQs

Do you have an 800 number?

Yes. The USPTO Contact Center (UCC) provides customers with a wide variety of general information and documents pertaining to patents and trademarks. Customer Service Representatives are available Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You may contact the USPTO Contact Center (UCC) for additional information at 800 786-9199 or 571 272-1000.

How do I find out if I need a patent, trademark or a copyright?

Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights are three types of intellectual property protection. They are different and serve different purposes. Patents protect inventions, and improvements to existing inventions. Trademarks include 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. Service marks include 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 services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services. Copyrights protect literary, artistic, and musical works. For general information, publications and other copyright related topics, you may visit their Web site at http://www.copyright.gov. Copyrights information can be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559 or you may call 202 707-3000 or 202 707-6737 (TTY).

How do I apply for a copyright?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not register copyrights. Copyrights cover literary, artistic, and musical works. Copyrights are registered at the Copyright Office, Library of Congress. Information concerning copyrights may be obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559, or you may visit their web site at: http://www.copyright.gov. Copyright Office specialists are available to answer questions by phone Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Recorded copyright information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may contact the Copyright Office at 202 707-3000 or 202 707-6737 (TTY).

Where can I obtain a USPTO form?

All USPTO forms are available on our Forms page.

Does the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offer tours?

Currently, the USPTO does not offer or conduct public tours of its facilities.

The USPTO Museum and Store are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Noon to 5:00 p.m. Saturday. The museum and store are closed on Sundays and federal holidays. School and group tours are welcome at the museum. Please contact the Office of Public Affairs at 571-272-8400 to schedule a tour.

The museum is located in the Atrium of the Madison Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and easily accessible from the King Street and Eisenhower Avenue Metro stations.

Please check our VISITING THE USPTO page to obtain information about local mass transportation systems and to view an area map.

How do I obtain information regarding the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program?

The Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDLP), administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is a nationwide network of university, public, state, and special research libraries which receive and maintain collections of patent materials for public use. A significant number of depository libraries also have limited collections of foreign patents.

As focal points for providing all types of intellectual property information, Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries offer a variety of services to their communities. These include: answering general, not legal, questions on patents, trademarks, and copyrights; providing photocopy services; assistance with preliminary patent searching; inventor name searching; trademark searching; patent attorneys and agents listings; and a multitude of other topics related to intellectual property.

Searches are not conducted for patrons because that involves giving a legal opinion as to the results of the search. However, training is provided on the search process, and all the tools necessary to conduct the search.

In addition to access to the USPTO website, the libraries receive current full-text patent documents approximately four weeks after they are issued, in DVD-ROM format. Most depository libraries have extensive or complete backfiles of full-text patents. The libraries also maintain support collections of books, journals, and other materials as a resource to their local communities.

The depository libraries have public access terminals available that allow computerized searching of USPTO-produced optical disc patent and trademark data. These products are updated on the same schedule as those in the Patent Search Room. A current list of depository libraries can be found on the PTDLP web site at http://www.uspto.gov/go/ptdl

Is there help to enforce trademarks, patents and copyrights overseas and stop pirated or counterfeited goods?

Growing global trade in pirated and counterfeit goods threatens America's innovation economy, the competitiveness of our leading companies and small manufacturers, and the livelihoods of their workers.  To help combat this growing problem, the Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!) was developed as the most comprehensive initiative ever advanced to smash the criminal networks that traffic counterfeit and pirated goods, stop trade in these goods at America's borders, block these goods around the world, and help small businesses secure and enforce their rights overseas.  

As a part of the STOP! initiative, a hotline has been established that provides a one-stop-shop for businesses to protect their intellectual property at home and abroad. 

1-866-999-HALT gives businesses the information they need to leverage the resources of the U.S. Government to lock down and enforce their trademarks, patents and copyrights overseas, both in individual countries and in multiple countries through international treaties.

STOP! Website


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