For over 200 years, the basic role of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The continued demand for patents and trademarks underscores the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs. The USPTO is at the cutting edge of the Nation’s technological progress and achievement.
The USPTO is a federal agency in the Department of Commerce. The USPTO occupies five interconnected buildings in Alexandria, Virginia. The office employs over 7,000 full time staff to support its major functions--- the examination and issuance of patents and the examination and registration of trademarks.
The USPTO has evolved into a unique government agency. Since 1991--under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990--the agency has been fully fee funded. The primary services the agency provides include processing patent and trademark applications and disseminating patent and trademark information.
Through the issuance of patents, the USPTO encourages technological advancement by providing incentives to invent, invest in, and disclose new technology worldwide. Through the registration of trademarks, the agency assists businesses in protecting their investments, promoting goods and services, and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace. By disseminating both patent and trademark information, the USPTO promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.
The USPTO mission is to ensure that the intellectual property system contributes to a strong global economy, encourages investment in innovation, and fosters entrepreneurial spirit. The USPTO promotes industrial and technological progress in the United States and strengthens the national economy by:
- Administering the laws relating to patents and trademarks.
- Advising the Secretary of Commerce, the President of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark, and copyright protection.
- Advising the Secretary of Commerce, the President of the United States, and the Administration on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property.