Anyone with an internet connection and a printer can download and print any U.S. patent from the USPTO, Google Patents, or other sources. When it comes to special physical copies, however, patent owners may understandably be unfamiliar with their purpose, how to treat them, and how to obtain them. These special physical copies include:
- Ribbon Copies
- Duplicate Ribbon Copies
- Certified Copies
- Additional Patent Copies
- Presentation Copies
- Patent Plaques
- Certificates of Correction and Gold Seal Certificates of Correction
If you are a patent owner, there is a good chance that you already have at least one physical copy — the Ribbon Copy. This is because the USPTO sends the patent owner a Ribbon Copy for “free” upon issuance of the patent. As the trend toward paperless continues, you may be tempted to dismiss Ribbon Copies as dust collectors or souvenirs to hand out.
Think twice. As described below, a Ribbon Copy has significant value during trial and replacing it is difficult. You should store your Ribbon Copies in a safe location.
In addition to the Ribbon Copy, this guide summarizes other types of physical copies, their benefits, and how to obtain them.