The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce responsible for granting patents and registering intellectual property and trademarks in the United States. The USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, that the legislative branch:
promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
As well, the USPTO registers trademarks based on the commerce clause of the Constitution per Article I, Section 8, Clause 3. Further to these activities, the USPTO advises the president of the United States, the secretary of commerce, and U.S. government agencies on intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement. The office is headed by the under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO, held since March 2021 by Drew Hirschfield. This role includes advising the president, through the secretary of commerce, on intellectual property issues, as well as managing the more than 13,000 employees and the execution of any policies, priorities, or programs of the USPTO.
The mission of the United States Patent and Trademark Office is to foster innovation, competitiveness and economic growth, domestically and abroad, by providing high quality and timely examination of patent and trademark applications, guiding domestic and international intellectual property (IP) policy, and delivering IP information and education worldwide..
The USPTO was established by the act of July 19, 1952 to fulfill Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. As part of that, USPTO examines and issues patents. Of these, there are three major patent categories: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The USPTO also issues statutory invention registrations and processes international patent applications.
In the registration of trademarks, USPTO works to assist businesses in protecting their investments, promoting goods and services, and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace. A trademark can include any distinctive word, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof. Trademarks can be used by manufacturers or merchants to identify goods or services and distinguish them from similar goods or services sold by others.
The USPTO's power to grant patents and trademarks is territorially limited to the United States. This means any individual or business seeking patent protection or trademark to be recognized by other countries must reapply for each country in which they seek protection. The USPTO works with the European Patent Office (EPO) and Japanese Patent Office (JPO) to exchange information and prior art in order to improve patent examination efficiency in all three offices. The USPTO also participates in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which makes it easier for applications to file patent applications for an invention in multiple countries.
Congress established the United States Patent and Trademark office to issue patents on behalf of the government. As a distinct bureau, the Patent Office, as it was known then, dates from 1802 when it was established as a separate official in the Department of State, who became known as "Superintendent of Patents" placed in charge of patents. In 1836, through a revision of the patent laws, the Patent Office was reorganized and designated as the official in charge as Commissioner of Patents.
The Patent Office remained in the Department of State until 1849 when it was Transferred to the Department of Interior. By 1925 the office was transferred to the Department of Commerce, with the name changed from the Patent Office to the Patent and Trademark Office in 1975, and changed again to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2000.
[USC02] 35 USC PART I: UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE