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The United States Patent and Trademark Office - USPTO

What is the role of the USPTO? How was it formed? How is it structured?

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO administers the patent and trademark laws The USPTO examines applications for patents to determine if the applicants are entitled to patents; it publishes issued patents and various publications concerning patents, records assignments of patents, maintains a search room for the use of the public to examine issued patents and records, supplies copies of records and other papers, and the like. It serves similar functions for trademarks.

Background United States Patent and Trademark Office

Congress established the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to issue patents on behalf of the government.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office as a distinct bureau dates from the year 1802 when a separate official in the Department of State who became known as “Superintendent of Patents” was placed in charge of patents.

The revision of the patent laws enacted in 1836 reorganized the United States Patent and Trademark Office and designated the head officer as the Commissioner of Patents.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office remained in the Department of State until 1849 when it was transferred to the Department of Interior. In 1925 it was transferred to the Department of Commerce where it is today. In 1975, the name of the Patent Office was changed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Role

The United States Patent and Trademark Office administers the patent laws as they relate to the granting of patents for inventions, and performs other duties relating to patents. It examines applications for patents to determine if the applicants are entitled to patents under the law and grants the patents when they are so entitled; it publishes issued patents, pending patent applications at 18 months from the earliest filing date, and various publications concerning patents; records assignments of patents; maintains a search room for the use of the public to examine issued patents and records; and supplies copies of records and other papers, and the like. Similar functions are performed with respect to the registration of trademarks.

The USPTO has no jurisdiction over questions of infringement and the enforcement of patents or trademarks, nor over matters relating to the promotion or utilization of patents or inventions.

Structure of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

The head of the USPTO has two names, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Director’s staff includes the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Director of the USPTO, the Commissioner for Patents, the Commissioner for Trademarks, and other officials.

As head of the USPTO, the Director superintends or performs all duties respecting the granting and issuing of patents and the registration of trademarks; exercises general supervision over the entire work of the USPTO; prescribes the rules, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for the conduct of proceedings in the USPTO, and for recognition of attorneys and agents; decides various questions brought before the Office by petition as prescribed by the rules; and performs other duties necessary and required for the administration of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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