Where to Start When Applying for A Patent, Copyright or Trademark

You’re full of great ideas, but the process of protecting a product or an idea can be rather complex. Even a simple of internet search for “how to get a patent” yields nearly 11 million results. 11 million. Where do you begin?

We recently sat down with Beth Scarborough, a librarian and patent and trademark representative at UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library, to talk all things patents, trademarks and copyrights. After our conversation, we were able to learn more about the resources available for Charlotte entrepreneurs seeking a patent, copyright or trademark. (Hear the whole conversation here!)
Talk to Beth herself.

In addition to being a Government Documents Library, J. Murrey Atkins Library is a Patent and Trademark Resources Center. Entrepreneurs seeking a patent can visit UNC Charlotte for more information and speak to Beth herself with any questions they might have.

For those in Charlotte’s neighboring cities, these resource centers are also available at North Carolina State University and Clemson University.
Search records at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Patents are protected by the Library of Congress, and those seeking more information about applying for a copyright should visit the U.S. Copyright Office online. At copyright.gov, you can search copyright records, learn more about fees, and begin the process of applying for your own copyright.
Learn everything you need to know from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency responsible for granting patents and registering trademarks in the United States. From getting started, to the application process, and even to maintaining your patent, this website walks you through every step of applying for a patent or a trademark.
Just Google it!

“Just Google it” might seem like a piece of snarky advice, but did you know that searching for patents really can be as simple as a Google search? Visit google.com/patents to view existing patents, as well as to determine how your patent should be classified.
Find an attorney.

Attorney fees can be very expensive, but small businesses might just be in luck. The North Carolina Bar Association, North Carolina Central Law School and UNC Chapel Hill’s Law School work with small businesses seeking patents and trademarks at more affordable rates.
Don’t forget about us!

In addition to the resources listed above, we can also guide you to the information and resources you need to protect your products or ideas. Visit our resource page to learn more about what you need to obtain a copyright, patent or trademark!


If you want to learn more, be sure to listen to our podcast episode “Patents and Trademarks and Copyrights, Oh My!”

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