Internet database accesses patents, trademarks

Commerce Department Secretary William Daley today unveiled an Internet database that will make it easier to access the text and images of 2 million patents and more than 1 million registered and pending trademarks.

The department's Patent and Trademark Office last summer announced its plan to create the fully searchable database, which is available free of charge at www.uspto.gov. The database contains the text and images of all patents dating to 1976 and all registered and pending trademarks from 1870 to present. The data amounts to more than 20 million pages of data.

For years, putting patent and trademark information on the Internet has been subject to intense debate between groups that believe public information should be free and widely available on the Internet and those companies whose business it is to purchase PTO data and repackage it for sale to other companies, such as law firms. The PTO plan was driven by Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government initiative.

Last year the PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks. The online database is updated weekly.

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