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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Lysol right this is a brand we probably have heard a lot about recently with all the covid stuff going on it’s a brand right well how do you tell whether a product is patented or trademarked how do you find out what do you look for did you know that lysol actually has a registered trademark and how would you know that well it’s got a r with a circle on it crisp linen has a registered trademark as well how do they get that let’s talk about it today


i’m jd hubner managing partner and ceo at bold patents law firm and today we’re going to talk about how to look for products and know whether they’re patented or trademarked what to look for how to do that research so this video will cover a lot of different subjects and i know you may not be able to sit through the whole video so please look at the bookmarks and the timestamps below and what we’re going to cover today is four major topics on the patenting how to do the research um on the actual product that you’re holding and looking at it to tell whether they have patent rights and what that means for you then how to do the research online whether they’re looking at products they’ve listed on their website or on the uspto or google patents website to see what rights they might hold for that specific product then we’re going to look at the trademark side the next two components trademarks on the actual product right how do they got it labeled what does that mean where to find it and what does that significantly mean for you and your own business then of course trademark searching what about that company or that product can you find out online where to go look to research what rights they have on that specific logo or word mark all right let’s jump into it so with that bookmark in mind the first subject is going to be patent research on the product what have they got listed on now the most common way to label a patent product is going to say patented then the number right and so there’s two different ways to do that it says us patent and it’ll say d the letter d and then a set of numbers if there’s a d like d like dog that means there’s a design patent on that specific product design patents are just not that prevalent there are not that many design patents out there i think today as we as i record this video there are fewer than one million and it may sound like a lot to you but on the utility patent side there are over 11 million utility patents that have been issued so more than 10 times as many utility patents than design patents so if there’s not a d in front of that it says us and then a what’ll be a seven digit number maybe even a ten eight digit number uh out into the 10 million plus range that is like the utility pack that they own now if they don’t have a number right if it doesn’t say us patent and then a nine or eight or nine digit uh number you will want to then look for patent pending uh sometimes it’s abbreviated as pat pending p-a-t dot pending so if it says that all that means to you is that they have filed a patent application what you’ve got to understand about that is that it could mean a provisional patent application it could mean a design patent application or a non-provisional patent application and the tough part about that is that you’re not going to be able to know when they filed or what kind of application it is unless it’s been published and in the u.s the patent applications that get filed don’t get published for a year and a half after their submittal and sometimes they never get published because it’s a provisional that doesn’t get followed up by a non-provisional a year later so a little bit of a history a little bit of background on provisional versus non-provisional a provisional is a less formal version of a utility patent application and it must be followed up must be followed up by a non-provisional patent application within a year if it’s not filed that provisional gets abandoned and actually never gets published but during that year you bet it is totally legal for that company to put on their products patent pending because they are their patent is pending they actually have filed their application before the uspto and that date is secure for just that one year but if they never follow up with a non-provisional that provisional has actually gone abandoned and in truth they are no longer pending so it’s a little bit of a mis you know a misstatement for some products that if they actually have labeled patent pending but they never proceed with that non-provisional after a year that patents truly not pending so let’s jump to the second part of patent uh how to find out whether a product’s patented or not is searching online so you’ve got obviously hopefully you’ve got an image or online or you’ve got the actual product in your hands about what you’re looking at finding out finding out whether this is a patented or not if there’s no numbers and it just says patent pending you can begin to research on the company name whether they may be the owner of that patent and you can do so at or the their public pair which is the p-a-i-r the patent application retrieval system and the pair is a quite extensive way to do a research uh on the what’s called the docket uh also called the file wrapper uh the history of that patent application as i said that is not public record until 18 months of that filing following the original application so you can go online you can do some research on your own of course you can hire a professional to do that research for you to see is this company really out there do they actually have a patent that’s truly still pending or if they abandon their rights that’s all available for you to at least explore on your own first before hiring an attorney and i do recommend you start some of that to get familiar with the process and at least get understanding of where you’re at in comparison to this product that you’re holding so that’s the patent side and i’ll do a quick summary again if you’re looking at the actual product that it says patented usd the letter d and then a series of numbers that’s a design patent and it covers the ornamental features okay it covers just what it looks like if they don’t have a d and they’ve got an eight or nine digit number right there that’s a utility pack and they they own the functionality of what that product does not necessarily the way it looks um moving to the trademark piece i want to talk about looking at brands okay so let’s look at the lysol example i just gave you looking at a product that has you know a well-known brand like lysol or who knows arm and hammer right those products are likely registered okay because they’re well known registration requires that you submit a proof that you’re using that name or that logo in commerce right in the in the market and you’ve got to demonstrate you you’re the only one out there using that name for your specific niche or industry and so once you’ve done that and proven that to the trademark examiner you can get a registration but only then will you be able to put the r with the circle so if you see a brand a logo or even a overall architecture that has a symbol that has an r with a circle that means they’ve got a registered trademark and you better watch out right anything that similarly uh arranged or looks or sounds like that word for the same industry will likely be an infringement of their trademark rights if you just see a tm okay a tm that’s used in in essence like a patent pending it’s a trademark pending meaning they’re using that name in the stream of commerce and they’re letting people know that they’re using this mark but they haven’t yet gone through the process of getting examination of that by a trademark attorney by the uspto they have not yet approved it to be a registered mark they’re likely well on their way to getting that and there is some enforceability under trademark law side where you can actually take someone to court and enforce your rights even at that pending state so i won’t speak too much more about the litigation side on trademarks but there is more power in using that tm if you’re intending on using that mark for registration later of course aside from the actual product like we just looked at with this lysol container you know you can look at more than just this this what’s on the container itself you can take a look at the company online now the way you do that is by looking at the a trademark electronic search system you can also of course look at google and put in the product name and see uh is this truly registered can i can i really um you know count on that and sometimes right a product is you know that you’re holding maybe old right the actual the labeling on it was printed years ago but they legally don’t have the rights anymore um and with trademarks and with patents it’s true that you must pay to maintain your rights and so you have to pay to update and maintain uh that registration status and it could be that they’ve left those rights go they’ve moved on to a different company name or different logo and those rights that may have gone abandon and that may mean that you could be able to grab onto that name and use it for your own commercial purposes so i hope this has been helpful for you a quick little road map of looking at the patents and trademarks that are listed or maybe listed on a product and how to do some research to find out what that means in terms of trademark or patent rights for you i’m your host jd hoovener and i’m a managing partner and owner here at bold patton’s law firm it’s been a pleasure talking with you here today and i want to let you know before i go that if you’ve got time and you haven’t yet done so please visit our website at and grab a copy of my book bold ideas the inventor’s guide to patents that book is going to give you a lot of insights on all the areas of ip including patents trademarks copyrights and trade secrets have a great day everybody go big go [Music]


About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at