The United States Patent and Trademark
Office (USPTO) started its network of libraries in 1871 when
federal statute (35 U.S.C. § 12) first provided for the
distribution of printed patents to libraries for use by the public.
These libraries (previously known as Patent and Trademark
Depository Libraries) receive and house copies of U.S. patents and
patent and trademark materials, make them freely available to the
public, and actively disseminate patent and trademark information.
The USPTO has undertaken a revitalization of the Patent and
Trademark Depository Library Program to reflect the new 21st
Century electronic approach to customer services. As a part of this
revitalization, the name will change to Patent and Trademark
Resource Center Program and the nationwide network of libraries
will be known as Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs).
These centers provide services to a variety of customers, including
inventors, intellectual property attorneys and agents, business
people, researchers, entrepreneurs, students, and historians.
Recognition as a PTRC is authorized under the provisions of 35
U.S.C. § 2(a)(2). In order to be designated as a PTRC, the
libraries must fulfill several requirements. With regard to
information collection, these libraries must provide metrics on the
use of patent and trademark services provided by the member library
and on outreach efforts conducted by the member library.