Congress established the United States Patent and Trademark Office to
issue patents on behalf of the Government. The Patent and Trademark
Office as a distinct bureau may be said to date 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 4 the Patent and
Trademark Office and designated the official in charge as Commissioner
of Patents and Trademarks. The 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.
The 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 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, are performed with respect to the
registration of trademarks. The Patent and Trademark Office has no
jurisdiction over questions of infringement and the enforcement of
patents, nor over matters relating to the promotion or utilization of
patents or inventions.
The head of the Office is the assistant Secretary and Commissioner of
Patents and Trademarks and his staff includes the Deputy Assistant
Secretary and Deputy Commissioner, several assistant commissioners, and
other officials. As head of the Office, the Commissioner 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 Patent and Trademark Office; prescribes the
rules, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for the
conduct of proceedings in the Patent and Trademark Office and for
recognition of attorneys and agents; decides various questions brought
before him by petition as prescribed by the rules, and performs other
duties necessary and required for the administration of the Patent and
The work of examining applications for patents is divided among a number
of examining groups, each group having jurisdiction over certain
assigned fields of technology. Each group is headed by a group director
and staffed by a number of examiners. The examiners review applications
for patents and determine whether patents can be granted. An appeal can
be taken to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences from their
decisions refusing to grant a patent and a view by the Commissioner of
Patents and Trademarks may be had on other matters by petition. The
examiners also identify applications that claim the same invention and
initiate proceedings, known as interferences, to determine who was the
In addition to the examining groups. other offices perform various
services, such as receiving and distributing mail, receiving new
applications, handling sales of printed copies of patents, making copies
of records, inspecting drawings, and recording assignments.
At present, the Patent and Trademark Office has about 4,400 employees,
of whom about half are examiners and others with technical and legal
training. Patent applications are received at the rate of over 170,000
per year. The Patent and Trademark Office receives over five million
pieces of mail each year.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
Patents -- The specification and accompanying drawings of all patents
are published on the day they are granted and printed copies are sold to
the public by the Patent and Trademark Office. Over 5,000,000 patents
have been issued.
Printed copies of any patent, identified by its patent number, may be
purchased from the Patent and Trademark Office. See fee schedule.
Future patents classified in subclasses containing subject matter of
interest may be obtained, as they issue, by prepayment of a deposit and
a service charge. For the cost of such subscription service, a separate
inquiry should be sent to the Patent and Trademark Office.
Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. --
This is the official journal relating to patents and trademarks. It has
been published weekly since January 1872 (replacing the old "Patent
Office Reports"), and is now issued each Tuesday in two parts, one
describing patents and the other trademarks. It contains a claim and a
selected figure of the drawings of each patent granted on that day;
notices of patent and trademark suits; indexes of patents and patentees;
list of patents available for license or sale, and much general
information such as orders, notices, changes in rules, changes in
classification, etc. The Official Gazette is sold on subscription and
by single copies by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
The illustrations and claims of the patents are arranged in the Official
Gazette according to the Patent and Trademark Office classification of
subject matter, permitting ready reference to patents in any particular
field. Street addresses of patentees and a geographical index of
residents of inventors are included. Copies of the Official Gazette may
be found in public libraries of larger cities.
Index of Patents. -- This annual index to the Official Gazette is
currently in two volumes, one an index of patentees and the other an
index by subject matter of the patents. Sold by Superintendent of
Index of Trademarks. -- An annual index of registrants of trademarks.
Sold by Superintendent of Documents.
Manual of Classification. -- A looseleaf book containing a list of all
the classes and subclasses of inventions in the Patent and Trademark
Office classification systems, a subject matter index, and other
information relating to classification. Substitute pages are issued
from time to time. Annual subscription includes the basic manual and
substitute pages. Sold by Superintendent of Documents.
Classification Definitions -- Contains the changes in classification of
patents as well as definitions of new and revised classes and
subclasses. Sold by Patent and Trademark Office.
Title 37 Code of Federal Regulations. -- Includes rules of practice for
Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights. Available from the Superintendent
Basic Facts about Trademarks -- Contains general information for the
layman about applications for, and registration of, trademarks and
service marks. Copies may be purchased from Superintendent of
Directory of Registered Patent Attorneys and Agents Arranged by States
and Countries -- An alphabetical and geographical listing of patent
attorneys and agents registered to practice before the U.S Patent and
Trademark Office. Sold by Superintendent of Documents.
Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. -- A looseleaf manual which serves
primarily as a detailed reference work on patent examining practice and
procedure for the Patent and Trademark Office's Examining Corps.
Subscription service includes basic manual, quarterly revisions, and
change notices. Sold by Superintendent of Documents.
The Story of the United States Patent Office. -- A chronological account
of the development of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and patent
system and of inventions which had unusual impact on the American
economy and society. Sold by Superintendent of Documents.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CORRESPONDENCE
All business with the Patent and Trademark Office should be transacted
by writing to "COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS AND TRADEMARKS, WASHINGTON, D.C.
20231." Correspondents should be sure to include their full return
addresses, including Zip Codes.
The principal location of the office is Crystal Plaza 3, 2021 Jefferson
Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia. The personal attendance of
applicants at the Office is unnecessary.
Applicants and attorneys are required to conduct their business with
decorum and courtesy. Papers presented in violation of this requirement
will be returned.
Separate letters (but not necessarily in separate envelopes) should be
written in relation to each distinct subject of inquiry, such as
assignments, payments, orders for printed copies of patents, order for
copies of records, requests for other services, etc. None of these
should be included with letters responding to Office actions in
applications (see page 19).
When a letter concerns a patent application, the correspondent must
include the serial number, filing date and Group Art Unit number. When
a letter concerns a patent, it must include the name of the patentee,
the title of the invention, the patent number and the date of issue.
An order for a copy of an assignment must give the book and page or reel
and frame of the record, as well as the name of the inventor; otherwise,
an additional charge is made for the time consumed in making the search
for the assignment. 7
Applications for patents are not open to the public, and no information
concerning them is released except on written authority of the
applicant, his assignee, or his attorney or when necessary to the
conduct of the business of the Office. Patents and related records,
including records of any decisions, the records of assignments other
than those relating to assignments of patent applications, books, and
other records and papers in the Office are open to the public. They may
be inspected in the Patent and Trademark Office Search Room or copies
may be ordered.
The Office cannot respond to inquiries concerning the novelty and
patentability of an invention in advance of the filing of an
application; give advice as to possible infringement of a patent; advise
of the propriety of filing an application; respond to inquiries as to
whether or to whom any alleged invention has been patented; act as an
expounder of the patent law or as counselor for individuals, except in
deciding questions arising before it in regularly field cases.
Information of a general nature may be furnished either directly or by
supplying or calling attention to an appropriate publication.
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