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Learning to navigate patent website search

February 09, 2014

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The caller simply asked, “Can you help me with an idea I have for an invention?” My answer was, “Let’s meet and I can teach you how to perform a basic Web search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

The appointment was set and I did a mental review of the information I would be sharing at our first one-on-one counseling session.

At the first meeting, I visited with the client about the Small Business Development Center and the wide variety of services we offer. I mentioned the center is funded through state and federal tax dollars and that every center, more than 900 across the nation, respects that responsibility. All centers are associated with colleges and universities and Angelo State University is our host institution.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The caller simply asked, “Can you help me with an idea I have for an invention?” My answer was, “Let’s meet and I can teach you how to perform a basic Web search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

The appointment was set and I did a mental review of the information I would be sharing at our first one-on-one counseling session.

At the first meeting, I visited with the client about the Small Business Development Center and the wide variety of services we offer. I mentioned the center is funded through state and federal tax dollars and that every center, more than 900 across the nation, respects that responsibility. All centers are associated with colleges and universities and Angelo State University is our host institution.

I told her about the weekly training sessions offered at the SBDC for little or no fee, the confidential one-on-one advising which is also offered at no charge, the types of research we have available through SBDCNet, most at no charge, as well as specialty centers which can assist her. I also walked her through what she could expect from the client and adviser relationship. Each time I share this information with a client, it reminds me of the great services the SBDC offers and the resulting economic effect which accompanies it.

Anxious to get started, the client asked about the Patent Office. I reminded her that I am not an accountant, attorney or a lawyer, but I can help her learn about patents so when she does seek that level of assistance, she will have a better understanding of the process.

For the novice, the United States Patent and Trademark Office website is viewed as an unsolvable maze. My goal is to teach my client how to navigate only one small part, the search.

Throughout the search process, I printed each screen shot and numbered them in order. I highlighted each link which took us to the next step. About 10 screen shot pages later, we have a list of patents which are related to her idea by class and subclass. There might be 50 patents or there might be 300.

With the list of patents, the real search begins. We create an Excel spreadsheet to track the patent numbers and make notes. I show her how to check each patent to see how it relates to her idea. The drawings which accompany all patents are a quick initial step.

After we look at a few patents together, we then repeat the entire process using the guide pages. The client leaves the office with a general understanding of the search process. The goal is to let the client discover, that the idea they want to patent, probably already has a patent number.

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    Peggy Hodges Rosser, Business Development Specialist and Rural Business Manager

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Contact

ASU SBDC 
sbdc@angelo.edu
325.942.2098