Internet patent resources
The website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov, is one of the most comprehensive internet patent information resources available. Not only is every published patent since 1975 cataloged on it (and drawings of ones before then) but it has advice and information on every aspect of the patent process. After all, the government wants you to invent things. That's why it invented patents. The site is massive, however, so it may pay to consult literature on the subject first, and possibly get advice on how to navigate it. You might also want to look at the US Copyright Office site - www.copyright.gov - in case it turns out that a patent is not what you're looking for after all. There are lots of other internet patent resources, but USPTO will provide a good stepping stone to them. Here, we'll just go over the main world bodies.
A US patent application can be filed in other countries under the Patent Co-operation Treaty, which covers about 100 countries. There are some complicated rules attached to the application but it is structured so that it's possible to pull out of the international side depending on how well the product is performing in the US , potentially saving you a lot of money if you decide it's not worth pursuing . The treaty itself is also complicated and subject to change, but its aim is to simplify the process of applying for an international patent. For more information about the PCT and other international intellectual property issues, check the World Industrial Property Organization (www.wipo.int). The European Patent Office, EPO, can extend US patents to Europe (www.epo.org).
There are smaller patent office unions, including the Eurasian Patent Office comprising the countries of the former Soviet Union and the African Regional Industrial Property Organization, which encompasses English-speaking African countries including South Africa and Uganda . Plus every country has its own individual patent office. Some of the potentially most useful internet patent sites are the UK patent office (www.patent.gov.uk) , the Canadian patent office at (cipo.gc.ca), the Japanese office (www.jpo.go.jp), and Australian office (www.ipaustralia.gov.au). Which patent offices a business will want to concentrate on will depend on what the product is, where its market is, and also an element of thinking ahead - China and the Asian tiger countries will become ever more important to the world economy in decades to come.