United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

By Lia Kopin-Green
/
September 22, 2022

What is the United States Patent and Trademark Office?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a government agency in the US Department of Commerce that is responsible for granting US patents and registering trademarks.

Key Takeaways

  • The USPTO, which is part of the US Department of Commerce, is the government agency responsible for granting US patents and registering trademarks. 
  • The goal of the agency is to strengthen the economy and promote innovation by protecting the intellectual property rights of inventors, businesses, and consumers.
  • The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), an adjudicatory body of the USPTO, hear certain cases concerning intellectual property.

USPTO Responsibilities 

The USPTO has a number of important functions that serve the interests of trademark and patent applicants and owners in the US. A few of the most common responsibilities of the USPTO include:

  • Examining patent applications and determining if the patent will be granted according to federal law
  • Issuing patents and trademarks
  • Publishing issued patents
  • Recording and maintaining assignments of patents and trademarks
  • Answering general questions about the patent and trademark application process
  • Solving various legal disputes through the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)
  • Advising the President of the US and the Secretary of Commerce in matters involving intellectual property

It is important to keep in mind, however, that the USPTO has published several limitations to its duties. The USPTO does not:

  • Provide any legal advice
  • Decide whether you have the right to use (not register) a trademark
  • Conduct trademark searches on behalf of the public
  • Disclose information about the validity of registered marks
  • Enforce intellectual property rights or bring legal action in the case of infringement

Filing a Patent with the USPTO

If you are seeking federal protection for your patent, it is time to file an application with the USPTO. Identifying whether your invention is patentable is crucial before spending unnecessary time and effort on the process. An experienced intellectual property lawyer should be able to provide expert legal advice regarding the patentability of your invention. Next, it is highly advised to conduct a thorough prior art patent search. Upon completing this, you can prepare the application for your patent through the USPTO website. 

Registering a Trademark with the USPTO

Registration with the USPTO is a necessary step in order to protect your trademark on a federal level. Once you have consulted with your IP attorney and determined your mark is eligible for USPTO protection, you may start filling out your trademark application. As part of the application, you will be asked to detail the mark format and identify the goods and/or services to which the mark will apply.

Bottom Line

Overwhelmed by the patent and trademark registration process with the USPTO? You are not alone. In the US, you are not required to have an attorney in order to apply for trademark or patent protection, but working with a legal expert is extremely beneficial. Those who attempt to file applications without an IP attorney often run into considerable challenges and difficulties. Consult with one of our top intellectual property attorneys today.

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