Glossary and Acronyms

Here are things I only want to explain once! This is the decoder ring that may be helpful for a novice intellectual property enthusiast.

Cassis = Classification and Search Support Information System
It’s an acrynym though I don’t like to write it all in uppercase (it screams too loudly). It’s software and images on cds and dvds (see USAMark and USAPat below) that the uspto once produced. An amusing alternate definition Computer Aided Something Something Including Something is given in a blog post titled CASSIS – Not Just a Resort Town in the South of France.
cipo = Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Another acronym, colloquially the Canadian Patent Office (also covering trademarks etc.) = Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents
Database of over 50,000 tool related patents. I’m one of the developers of the site and also one of the data stewards who enters tool patent data. As I tell people, the easiest patents to find are ones someone else already found! Have a tool with a patent date on it? Enter it at to (hopefully) find the patent number and details of its manufacturer. is a sister site. Of particular interest may be their manufacturers index.
Fractional Patents = US Patents where the patent number is not an integer!
Think high school algebra. Examples 2,712,152 ½ or 3,262,144 ½. More on these pages: modern fractional patents and historic fractional patents I won’t pretend to understand why single patents issued in 1955 and 1966 had fractional components (the two examples are real patent numbers issued in those two years respectively).
Hathi = Hathi Trust online at
The worlds largest online library. Of interest to fellow Historic Intellectual Property fans would be their collections of US patent indexes, US trademark indexes, US patent gazettes and Canadian gazettes plus more (see this page). An alternative to going to a patent library (now known as Patent and Trademark Resource Centers listed here).
IP = Intellectual Property.
On this site it is used to collectively refer to patents, trademarks, prints and labels. What is, or at one time was, under the control of the US Patent Office. IP can apply to trade secrets, copyright etc. but they won’t be discussed on this site.
OCR = Optical Character Recognition
Software that attempts to figure out what text is contained in an image. Really useful if you happen to literally have a million tiff files and you want to know what text those images contain. The problem is that the process is far from foolproof – varying wildly based on the image quality etc. My favorite OCR mistake is Corn Smellers when the text really contained Corn Shellers. Don’t believe me? Try searching for Corn Smellers at google patents. Their patent database was created by ocr-ing patent tiffs. My trademark database was similarly created by ocr-ing registration certificate tiffs. My database does not contain any Corn Smellers but it does have a few CORN SI-IELLERS. (The H of SHELLERS mistakenly thought to be the three characters I-I).
Prior Art = a term that applies to patents.
My layman’s interpretation: roughly equivalent to “existing previously”. If you are trying to patent something you do not want to find prior art though it is in your best interest to look for it. If the idea/product/whatever already exists your patent application should be rejected (where you will be out the expense of preparing and submitting your application). Patent attorneys and patent examiners are frequently looking for prior art.
Prints and Labels = early forms of corporate copyrights
Once under the prevue of the patent office (1874-1940).
PTRCA = Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association A group of librarians who work at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers around the Unites States. Just try to stump them with questions pertaining to the patent office. So far they’ve been able to answer all of my questions! They invited me to speak at their conference in 2013 at the Patent Office in Alexandria, VA. Or as I like to think of it, the mother ship called me home!
TESS = Trademark Electronic Search System
The fickle, online trademark search available at It has all active trademarks, ones that became inactive since 1984 and some indeterminate number of older, inactive trademarks¹. In other words, it has primarily trademarks not of interest to Historical Intellectual Property enthusiasts. Anecdotally it’s missing around 600,000 inactive trademarks. This is the primary reason I ocr’d a little over 1 million registration certificates! Otherwise there would be no way to search for these trademarks.
TSDR = Trademark Status and Document Retrieval Retrieves most trademark registration certificates! On this site are around 11,000 registration certificates it does not have (from USAMark explained below). Bulk option will return up to 25 registration certificates you specify in a single pdf. Also contains a wealth of documentation for primarily active trademarks. At one point the acronym was just TDR. I’ve tried to be consistent on this site by using the newer/longer acronym.
USAMark = Scans of Registration Certificates issued for US Trademarks 1870-2010 (with gaps)
248 dvds that were available for purchase from the US Patent Office. A few patent libraries still have copies (see PTRCA above). Over ten thousand registration certificates on these dvds are not online at They are on this site however.
USAPat = Scans of 9 million patents 1790-2010
1,104 dvds that were available for purchase from the US Patent Office.
USPTO = United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Their web site is