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Patents and Trademarks

Introduction to patents and trademarks

This guide provides a starting point for resources on patents and trademarks. Use the tabs on the side for guidance on resources for patents and trademarks research, including

  • patent application
  • patent search
  • trademark application
  • trademark search
  • inventor/entrepreneur assistance
  • public training/events

Need a clarification on patents, trademarks, and copyright? Watch this USPTO video: Basic Facts: Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights 

To learn more about intellectual property (IP) in general, read this open text book by IP experts: Introduction to Intellectual Property

For business owners: Have you thought about what kind of IP protection you may need for your business? You can conduct a preliminary IP assessment to find it out. Complete a survey by following this USPTO's IP Awareness Assessment tool.


What can be patented?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by a government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), for a limited period of time, usually 20 years.  U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States and U.S. territories. 

Read: General information concerning patents

There are three types of U.S. patents:

  • A utility patent protects any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Generally speaking, a utility patent has a 20 year term from the date of filing.
  • A design patent protects a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Currently, a design patent has a 15 year term from the date of grant.
  • A plant patent protects asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. The term for a plant patent is 20 years from the date of filing.

Read more about patent basics.

Not sure about what type of IP protection you need? Use this IP Identifier tool to assess your creative works. 

About Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC)

The Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) is a national network of academic, public and special libraries that provide intellectual property services to the public. The PTRC's mission includes: Disseminating patent and trademark information, and supporting diverse intellectual property needs of the public. The Georgia Tech Library joined PTRC program in 1946 as one of the initial 22 libraries. We have all available patents issued in the U.S. since 1790 on file together with additional search tools. Currently, we provide the following resources and services:

  • A dedicated patent station. This computer is dedicated for patent search in the library. If you need to use this computer to conduct your prior art search, please make a reservation by phone (404-894-4500).
  • Free patent consultation and training. We provide free patent and trademark consultation and training by appointment. Please contact us by email to make an arrangement ( 
  • Training seminars/events. We organize training programs/events, and collaborate with stake holders on special projects. Check the latest updates on Public training/events page.


The Librarian and library staff can provide education and training on IP topics, such as patents and trademarks, direct patrons to authoritative patent and trademark information and resources, or offered specialized instruction for patent and trademark searching processes. We cannot perform a patent or trademark search on behalf of a patron, or provide legal advice.


Patent information for Georgia Tech community

For current GT students, researchers and staff -  follow this link to additional GT specific resources: Patent Information for Georgia Tech community.