Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Department of Commerce that provides patent and trademark protection to inventors and businesses for their inventions and corporate and product identification.
Since 1991, the office has been fully funded by fees charged for processing patents and trademarks.
The mission of the PTO is to promote "industrial and technological progress in the United States and strengthen 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; and
- providing advice on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property.
Each year, Congress "diverts" fees that the USPTO has collected to the general treasury. In effect, taking monies collected from the patent system to use for the general budget of the United States. This fee diversion is controversial to patent practitioners, who would rather use the funds to improve the patent office and patent system. However, as the commissioner of the USPTO is a politicial appointee, the diversion of fees is always internally supported from within.
- Each year, the PTO issues thousands of patents to companies and individuals all around the world. As of August 2004, the PTO has issued nearly seven million patents.
- The X-Patents (the first 10,000 issued between 1790 and 1836) were destroyed by a fire; less than 3,000 of those have been recovered and re-issued with numbers ending in "X" to distinguish them from those issued after the fire.
- On July 31, 1790 the PTO awarded its first patent to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement "in the making Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process."
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