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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues
patent A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an sufficiency of disclosure, enabling disclo ...

patent
s to
inventor An invention is a unique or novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or ...

inventor
s and businesses for their inventions, and
trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual pr ...

trademark
registration for product and
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of ...
identification. The USPTO is "unique among federal agencies because it operates solely on fees collected by its users, and not on taxpayer dollars". Its "operating structure is like a business in that it receives requests for services—applications for patents and trademark registrations—and charges fees projected to cover the cost of performing the services
t
t
provide . The USPTO is based in
Alexandria, Virginia Alexandria is an independent city An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity (such as a province). Historical precursors In the Holy Roman Empire ...

Alexandria, Virginia
, after a 2005 move from the Crystal City area of neighboring
ArlingtonArlington may refer to: Places Australia *Arlington light rail station, on the Inner West Light Rail#Arlington, Inner West Light Rail in Sydney Canada *Arlington, Nova Scotia *Rural Municipality of Arlington No. 79, Saskatchewan *Arlington, Yukon ...
,
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a in the and regions of the , between the and the . The geography and climate of the are shaped by the and the , which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capit ...

Virginia
. The offices under Patents and the Chief Information Officer that remained just outside the southern end of Crystal City completed moving to Randolph Square, a brand-new building in Shirlington Village, on April 27, 2009. The Office is headed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a position last held by
Andrei Iancu Andrei Iancu (born April 2, 1968, in Bucharest Bucharest ( , ; ro, București ) is the capital and largest city of Romania, as well as its cultural, industrial, and financial centre. It is located in the southeast of the country, at , on th ...
until he left office on January 20, 2021. Commissioner of Patents Drew Hirshfeld is performing the functions of the Under Secretary and Director in the absence of an appointment or nomination to the positions. The USPTO cooperates with the
European Patent Office The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg), the other being the Administrative Council. The EPO acts as executive body for the organisation As an international organization, EPOorg enjoy ...
(EPO) and the
Japan Patent Office The is a Japanese governmental agency in charge of industrial property right affairs, under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Japan Patent Office is located in Kasumigaseki Kasumigaseki (霞が関, 霞ヶ関 or 霞ケ関) i ...
(JPO) as one of the
Trilateral Patent Offices The Trilateral Patent Offices, or simply the Trilateral Offices, are the European Patent Office The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg), the other being the Administrative Council. Th ...
. The USPTO is also a Receiving Office, an International Searching Authority and an International Preliminary Examination Authority for international patent applications filed in accordance with the
Patent Cooperation Treaty The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organiza ...

Patent Cooperation Treaty
.


Mission

The USPTO maintains a permanent, interdisciplinary historical record of all U.S. patent applications in order to fulfill objectives outlined in the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or organ ...

United States Constitution
. The legal basis for the United States patent system is Article 1, Section 8, wherein the powers of Congress are defined. It states, in part:
The Congress shall have Power ... To 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.
The PTO's mission 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 United States secretary of commerce (SecCom) is the head of the United States Department of Commerce. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is t ...
, the President of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark, and
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more ...

copyright
protection; and * Providing advice on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property.


Structure

The USPTO is headquartered at the Alexandria Campus, consisting of 11 buildings in a city-like development surrounded by ground floor retail and high rise residential buildings between the
Metro Metro, short for metropolitan, may refer to: Geography * Metro (city), a city in Indonesia * A metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated core city, urban core and its less-populated surro ...

Metro
stations of King Street station (the main search building is two blocks due south of the King Street station) and Eisenhower Avenue station where the actual Alexandria Campus is located between Duke Street (on the North) to Eisenhower Avenue (on the South), and between John Carlyle Street (on the East) to Elizabeth Lane (on the West) in Alexandria, Virginia. An additional building in
Arlington, Virginia Arlington County is a County (United States), county in the Commonwealth of Virginia, often referred to simply as Arlington or Arlington, Virginia. The county is situated in Northern Virginia on the southwestern bank of the Potomac River direct ...
, was opened in 2009. The USPTO was expected by 2014 to open its first ever satellite offices in
Detroit (strait) , nicknames = The Motor City, Motown, Renaissance City, Techno City, City of the Straits, The D, D-Town, Hockeytown, The Automotive Capital of the World, Rock City, The 313, The Arsenal of Democracy, The Town Th ...

Detroit
,
Dallas Dallas (), colloquially referred to as Big D, is a city in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United State ...

Dallas
,
Denver Denver () is a List of municipalities in Colorado#Consolidated city and county, consolidated city and county, the List of capitals in the United States#State capital, capital, and List of municipalities in Colorado#, most populous city of t ...

Denver
, and
Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is a region in Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's nort ...

Silicon Valley
to reduce backlog and reflect regional industrial strengths. The first satellite office opened in Detroit on July 13, 2012. In 2013, due to the
budget sequestration Budget sequestration is a provision of United States law that causes an across-the-board reduction in certain kinds of spending included in the federal budget. Sequestration involves setting a hard cap on the amount of government spending withi ...
, the satellite office for Silicon Valley, which is home to one of the nation's top patent-producing cities, was put on hold. However, renovation and infrastructure updates continued after the sequestration, and the Silicon Valley location opened in the
San Jose City Hall San José City Hall is the seat of the Government of San Jose, municipal government of San Jose, California. Located in Downtown San Jose, it was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier in a Postmodern architecture, Postmodern s ...

San Jose City Hall
in 2015. , the end of the U.S. government's fiscal year, the PTO had 9,716 employees, nearly all of whom are based at its five-building headquarters complex in Alexandria. Of those, 6,242 were
patent examinerA patent examiner (or, historically, a patent clerk) is an employee, usually a civil service, civil servant with a scientific or engineering background, working at a patent office. Major employers of patent examiners are the European Patent Organisat ...
s (almost all of whom were assigned to examine
utility patent In United States patent law Under Law of the United States, United States law, a patent is a right granted to the inventor of a (1) process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, (2) that is novelty (patent), new, utility ( ...
s; only 99 were assigned to examine
design patent US design patent D48,160 for the original Coca-Cola bottle. In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in ...
s) and 388 were trademark examining attorneys; the rest are support staff. While the agency has noticeably grown in recent years, the rate of growth was far slower in fiscal 2009 than in the recent past; this is borne out by data from fiscal 2005 to the present: As of the end of FY 2018, the USPTO was composed of 12,579 federal employees, including 8,185 patent examiners, 579 trademark examiners, and 3,815 other staff. Patent examiners make up the bulk of the employees at USPTO. They hold degrees in various scientific disciplines, but do not necessarily hold law degrees. Unlike patent examiners,
trademark examinerA trademark examiner is an attorney employed by a government entity such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patent ...
s must be licensed attorneys. All examiners work under a strict, "count"-based production system. For every application, "counts" are earned by composing, filing, and mailing a first office action on the merits, and upon disposal of an application. The Commissioner for Patents oversees three main bodies, headed by former Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations, currently Peggy Focarino, the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, currently Andrew Hirshfeld as Acting Deputy, and finally the Commissioner for Patent Resources and Planning, which is currently vacant. The Patent Operations of the office is divided into nine different technology centers that deal with various arts. Prior to 2012, decisions of patent examiners could be appealed to the
Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) was an administrative law body of the United States Patent and Trademark Office The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that i ...
, an administrative law body of the USPTO. Decisions of the BPAI could further be appealed to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit; in case citation Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called reporters or law repo ...
, or a civil suit could be brought against the Commissioner of Patents in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (in case citations, E.D. Va.) is one of two United States district courts serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. It has jurisdiction over the Northern Virginia, Hampton Road ...
. The
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a cou ...

United States Supreme Court
may ultimately decide on a patent case. Under the America Invents Act, the BPAI was converted to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or "PTAB". Similarly, decisions of trademark examiners may be appealed to the
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) is a body within the United States Patent and Trademark Office The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patent NPOV dispute ...
, with subsequent appeals directed to the Federal Circuit, or a civil action may also be brought. In recent years, the USPTO has seen increasing delays between when a patent application is filed and when it issues. To address its workload challenges, the USPTO has undertaken an aggressive program of hiring and recruitment. The USPTO hired 1,193 new patent examiners in Fiscal Year 2006 (year ending September 30, 2006), 1,215 new examiners in fiscal 2007, and 1,211 in fiscal year 2008. The USPTO expected to continue hiring patent examiners at a rate of approximately 1,200 per year through 2012; however, due to a slowdown in new application filings since the onset of the late-2000s economic crisis, and projections of substantial declines in maintenance fees in coming years, the agency imposed a hiring freeze in early March 2009. In 2006, USPTO instituted a new training program for patent examiners called the "Patent Training Academy". It is an eight-month program designed to teach new patent examiners the fundamentals of patent law, practice and examination procedure in a college-style environment. Because of the impending USPTO budget crisis previously alluded to, it had been rumored that the Academy would be closed by the end of 2009. Focarino, then Acting Commissioner for Patents, denied in a May 2009 interview that the Academy was being shut down, but stated that it would be cut back because the hiring goal for new examiners in fiscal 2009 was reduced to 600. Ultimately, 588 new patent examiners were hired in fiscal year 2009. In 2016, the USPTO partnered with the
Girl Scouts of the USA Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA), commonly referred to as simply Girl Scouts, is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. Founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912, it was organized af ...
to create an "Intellectual Property Patch" , which is awarded to Girl Scouts at four different levels.


Management

In October 2021, President
Joe Biden Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. ( ; born November 20, 1942) is an American politician who is the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he served as the 47th Vice Pres ...

Joe Biden
nominated attorney Kathi Vidal to serve as the USPTO director.


Fee diversion

For many years,
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
has "diverted" about 10% of the fees that the USPTO collected into the general treasury of the United States. In effect, this took money collected from the patent system to use for the general budget. This fee diversion has been generally opposed by patent practitioners (e.g.,
patent attorney A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patent NPOV disputes from March 2021 A patent is a Title (property), title that gives its owner the legal right to exclude ...
s and
patent agent A patent attorney is an Lawyer, attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing patent applications ...
s), inventors, the USPTO, as well as former federal judge
Paul R. Michel Paul Redmond Michel (born February 3, 1941) is a retired United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania United is located in Mount Pleasant Township, W ...
. These stakeholders would rather use the funds to improve the patent office and patent system, such as by implementing the USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan. The last six annual budgets of the
George W. Bush George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the Unit ...

George W. Bush
administration did not propose to divert any USPTO fees, and the first budget of the Barack Obama administration continues this practice; however, stakeholders continue to press for a permanent end to fee diversion. The discussion of which party can appropriate the fees is more than a financial question. Patent fees represent a policy lever that influences both the number of applications submitted to the office as well as their quality.


Patents

* On July 31, 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement "in the making of Pot ash and by a new Apparatus and Process". This patent was signed by then President
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
. * The
X-Patent The X-Patents are all the patents issued by the from July 1790 (when the first U.S. patent was issued), to July 1836. The actual number is unknown, but the best estimate is 9,957. The records were burned in a fire, in December 1836, while in te ...
s (the first 10,280 issued between 1790 and 1836) were destroyed by a fire; fewer than 3,000 of those have been recovered and re-issued with numbers that include an "X". The X generally appears at the end of the numbers hand-written on full-page patent images; however, in patent collections and for search purposes, the X is considered to be the patent type – analogous to the "D" of design patents – and appears at the beginning of the number. The X distinguishes the patents from those issued after the fire, which began again with patent number 1. * Each year, the PTO issues over 150,000 patents to companies and individuals worldwide. , the PTO has granted 8,743,423 patents and has received 16,020,302 applications. * On June 19, 2018, the 10 millionth U.S. patent was issued to Joseph Marron for invention of a "Coherent LADAR ystemUsing Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection" to improve laser detection and ranging (LADAR). The patent was the first to receive the newly redesigned patent cover. It was signed by President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
during a special ceremony at the
Oval Office The Oval Office is the formal working office space of the president of the United States. It is located in the West Wing of the White House, in Washington, D.C., part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. The oval-shape ...

Oval Office
.


Trademarks

The USPTO examines applications for trademark registration, which can be filed under five different filing bases: use in commerce, intent to use, foreign application, foreign registration, or international registration. If approved, the trademarks are registered on either the
Principal RegisterIn United States trademark law, the Principal Register is the primary register of trademarks maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is governed by Subchapter I of the Lanham Act. Having a mark registered under the Principal ...
or the
Supplemental Register In United States trademark law, the Supplemental Register is the secondary register of trademarks maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It was established in 1946 by Subchapter II of the Lanham Act, to allow the domestic regi ...
, depending upon whether the mark meets the appropriate distinctiveness criteria. This federal system governs goods and services distributed via interstate commerce, and operates alongside state level trademark registration systems. Trademark applications have grown substantially in recent years, jumping from 296,490 new applications in 2000, to 345,000 new applications in 2014, to 458,103 new applications in 2018. Recent growth has been driven partially by growing numbers of trademark applications originating in China; trademark applications from China have grown more than 12-fold since 2013, and in 2017, one in every nine trademark applications reviewed by the U.S. Trademark Office originated in China. Since 2008, the Trademark Office has hosted a National Trademark Expo every two years, billing it as "a free, family-friendly event designed to educate the public about trademarks and their importance in the global marketplace." The Expo features celebrity speakers such as
Anson Williams Anson Williams (born Anson William Heimlich, September 25, 1949, in Los Angeles, California) is an American actor, singer, and director, best known for his role as gullible, well-intentioned singer Warren "Potsie" Weber on the television series ' ...
(of the television show ''
Happy Days ''Happy Days'' is an American television sitcom A sitcom, clipping Clipping may refer to: Words * Clipping (morphology) In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Happy Days
'') and basketball player
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. ...
and has numerous trademark-holding companies as exhibitors. Before the 2009 National Trademark Expo, the Trademark Office designed and launched a kid-friendly trademark mascot known as T. Markey, who appears as an anthropomorphized registered trademark symbol. T. Markey is featured prominently on the Kids section of the USPTO website, alongside fellow IP mascots Ms. Pat Pending (with her robot cat GeaRS) and Mark Trademan. In 2020, trademark applications marked the sharpest declines and inclines in American history. During Spring,
COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Non-pharmaceutical intervention (epidemiology), non-pharmaceutical interventions including Lockdown, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, curfews, quarantines, Cordon sanitaire (medicine), ''cordons sanitair ...
led to reduced filings, which then increased in July 2020 to exceed the previous year. August 2020 was subsequently the highest month of trademark filings in the history of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Representation

The USPTO only allows certain qualified persons to practice before the USPTO. ''Practice'' includes filing of patent and trademark applications on behalf of individuals and companies, prosecuting the patent and trademark applications, and participating in administrative appeals and other proceedings before the PTO examiners, examining attorneys and boards. The USPTO sets its own standards for who may practice. Any person who practices patent law before the USPTO must become a registered patent attorney or agent. A patent agent is a person who has passed the
USPTO registration examinationIn order to be registered as a patent agent or patent attorney in the United States, one must pass the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registration examination, officially called the Examination for Registration to Practice in Paten ...
(the "patent bar") but has not passed any state bar exam to become a licensed attorney; a patent attorney is a person who has passed both a state bar and the patent bar and is in good standing as an attorney. A patent agent can only act in a representative capacity in patent matters presented to the USPTO, and may not represent a patent holder or applicant in a court of law. To be eligible for taking the patent bar exam, a candidate must possess a degree in "engineering or physical science or the equivalent of such a degree". Any person who practices trademark law before the USPTO must be an active member in good standing of the highest court of any state. The United States allows any citizen from any country to sit for the patent bar (if he/she has the requisite technical background). Only Canada has a reciprocity agreement with the United States that confers upon a patent agent similar rights. An unrepresented inventor may file a patent application and prosecute it on his or her own behalf (''
pro se ''Pro se'' legal representation ( or ) comes from Latin ''pro se'', meaning "for oneself" or "on behalf of themselves", which in modern law means to argue on one's own behalf in a legal proceedingLegal proceeding is an activity that seeks to in ...
''). If it appears to a patent examiner that an inventor filing a ''pro se'' application is not familiar with the proper procedures of the Patent Office, the examiner may suggest that the filing party obtain representation by a registered patent attorney or patent agent. The patent examiner cannot recommend a specific attorney or agent, but the Patent Office does post a list of those who are registered. While the inventor of a relatively simple-to-describe invention may well be able to produce an adequate specification and detailed drawings, there remains language complexity in what is claimed, either in the particular claim language of a utility application, or in the manner in which drawings are presented in a design application. There is also skill required when searching for prior art that is used to support the application and to prevent applying for a patent for something that may be unpatentable. A patent examiner will make special efforts to help ''pro se'' inventors understand the process but the failure to adequately understand or respond to an Office action from the USPTO can endanger the inventor's rights, and may lead to abandonment of the application.


Electronic filing system

The USPTO accepts patent applications filed in electronic form. Inventors or their patent agents/attorneys can file applications as
Adobe PDF Portable Document Format (PDF), standardized as ISO 32000, is a file format developed by Adobe Systems, Adobe in 1993 to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, Computer hardware, ...
documents. Filing fees can be paid by credit card or by a USPTO "deposit account".


Patent search tools

The USPTO web site provides free electronic copies of issued patents and patent applications as multiple-page
TIFF Tag Image File Format, abbreviated TIFF or TIF, is an image file format for storing raster graphics images, popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and photographers. TIFF is widely supported by image scanner, scanning, FAX, faxi ...

TIFF
(graphic) documents. The site also provides Boolean search and analysis tools. The USPTO's free distribution service only distributes the patent documents as a set of TIFF files. Numerous free and commercial services provide patent documents in other formats, such as
Adobe PDF Portable Document Format (PDF), standardized as ISO 32000, is a file format developed by Adobe Systems, Adobe in 1993 to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, Computer hardware, ...

Adobe PDF
and CPC.


Criticisms

The USPTO has been criticized for granting patents for impossible or absurd, already known, or arguably obvious inventions.Philip E. Ross
''Patently Absurd''
, Forbes.com, May 29, 2000.
Economists have documented that, although the USPTO makes mistakes when granting patents, these mistakes might be less prominent than some might believe.


Controversial patents

*, " Method of exercising a cat", covers having a cat chase the beam from a
laser pointer A laser pointer or laser pen is a small handheld device with a power source (usually a battery) and a laser diode emitting a very narrow Coherence (physics), coherent low-powered laser beam of visible light, intended to be used to highlight some ...

laser pointer
. The patent has been criticized as being obvious. *, " Sealed crustless sandwich", issued in 1999, covers the design of a sandwich with crimped edges. However, all claims of the patent were subsequently canceled by the PTO upon reexamination. *, "Hyper-light-speed antenna", an antenna that sends signals faster than the
speed of light The speed of light in vacuum A vacuum is a space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called paramet ...
. According to the description in the patent, "The present invention takes a transmission of energy, and instead of sending it through normal time and space, it pokes a small hole into another dimension, thus, sending the energy through a place which allows transmission of energy to exceed the speed of light." *, "Method of swinging on a swing", issued April 9, 2002, was granted to a seven-year-old boy, whose father, a patent attorney, wanted to demonstrate how the patent system worked to his son who was five years old at the time of the application. The PTO initially rejected it due to prior art, but eventually issued the patent. However, all claims of the patent were subsequently canceled by the PTO upon reexamination. *, "Space vehicle propelled by the pressure of inflationary vacuum state", describes an
anti-gravity Anti-gravity (also known as ''non-gravitational field'') is a hypothetical phenomenon of creating a place or object that is free from the force of gravity Gravity (), or gravitation, is a list of natural phenomena, natural phenomenon by whi ...
device. In November 2005, the USPTO was criticized by physicists for granting it. The journal ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'' first highlighted this patent issued for a device that presumably amounts to a
perpetual motion 's 1618 "water screw" perpetual motion machine from a 1660 wood engraving. It is widely credited as the first attempt to describe such a device in order to produce useful work, that of driving millstones. Perpetual motion is the motion of bodies ...
machine, defying the laws of physics. The device comprises a particular electrically
superconducting Superconductivity is a set of physical properties observed in certain materials where electrical resistance The electrical resistance of an object is a measure of its opposition to the flow of electric current. Its Multiplicative inverse, ...

superconducting
shield and electromagnetic generating device. The examiner allowed the claims because the design of the shield and device was novel and not obvious. In situations such as this where a substantial question of
patentability Within the context of a nation state, national or multilateralism, multilateral body of law, an invention is patentable if it meets the relevant legal conditions to be granted a patent. By extension, patentability also refers to the substantive co ...
is raised after a patent is issued, the Commissioner of the Patent Office can order a
reexamination In United States patent law, a reexamination is a process whereby anyone—third party or inventor—can have a U.S. patent NPOV disputes from March 2021 A patent is a Title (property), title that gives its owner the legal right to exclude ...
of the patent.


Controversial trademarks

* , "Cloud Computing" for
Dell Dell is an American company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal personality, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objecti ...

Dell
, covering "custom manufacture of computer hardware for use in
data center A data center (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Eng ...
s and mega-scale computing environments for others", was allowed by a trademark attorney on July 8, 2008.
Cloud computing Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operatio ...

Cloud computing
is a generic term that could define technology infrastructure for years to come, which had been in general use at the time of the application. The application was rejected on August 12, 2008, as descriptive and generic. * , "
Netbook The marketing term netbook identified small and inexpensive laptops that were sold from 2007 to around 2013; these were generally low-performance. While the ''name'' has fallen out of use, machines matching their description remain an im ...

Netbook
" for Psion, covering "laptop computers" was registered on November 21, 2000. Although the company discontinued the ''netBook'' line in November 2003 and allowed the trademark to become
genericized A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-markThe styling of ''trademark'' as a single word is predominantly used in the United States an ...
through use by journalists and vendors (products marketed as 'netbooks' include the Dell Inspiron Mini Series, Asus
eeePC The ASUS Eee PC is a netbook A netbook is a marketing term used in the past for small, low-performance, Legacy-free PC, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop. While the name has fallen out of use, machines matching their description remai ...
,
HP Mini 1000 HP Mini is a former line of small computers categorized as netbooks A netbook is a marketing term used in the past for small, low-performance, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop. While the name has fallen out of use, machines matching t ...

HP Mini 1000
,
MSI Wind Netbook The MSI Wind Netbook was a family of subnotebooks / netbook A netbook is a marketing term used in the past for small, low-performance, Legacy-free PC, legacy-free, and inexpensive laptop. While the name has fallen out of use, machines m ...
and others),
USPTO The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patent A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, ...
subsequently rejected a number of trademarks citing a "likelihood of confusion" under section 2(d), including 'G NETBOOK' ( rejected October 31, 2008), MSI's 'WIND NETBOOK' () and Coby Electronics' 'COBY NETBOOK' () rejected January 13, 2009. Psion also delivered a batch of cease-and-desist letters on December 23, 2008, relating to the
genericized trademark A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, because of its popularity or significance, has become the generic term for, or synonymous with, a general class of Good (economic ...
.


Slow patent examination and backlog

The USPTO has been criticized for taking an inordinate amount of time in examining patent applications. This is particularly true in the fast-growing area of
business method patent Business method patents are a class of patents which disclose and claim new methods of doing business. This includes new types of e-commerce, insurance, banking and tax compliance etc. Business method patents are a relatively new species of patent ...
s. As of 2005, patent examiners in the business method area were still examining patent applications filed in 2001. The delay was attributed by spokesmen for the Patent Office to a combination of a sudden increase in business method patent filings after the 1998 ''State Street Bank'' decision, the unfamiliarity of patent examiners with the business and financial arts (e.g., banking,
insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something bad happening. ...

insurance
, stock trading etc.), and the issuance of a number of controversial patents (''e.g.'', " Amazon one click patent") in the business method area. Effective August 2006, the USPTO introduced an accelerated patent examination procedure in an effort to allow inventors a speedy evaluation of an application with a final disposition within twelve months. The procedure requires additional information to be submitted with the application and also includes an interview with the examiner. The first accelerated patent was granted on March 15, 2007, with a six-month issuance time. As of the end of 2008, there were 1,208,076 patent applications pending at the Patent Office. At the end of 1997, the number of applications pending was 275,295. Therefore, over those eleven years there was a 439% increase in the number of pending applications. December 2012 data showed that there was 597,579 unexamined patent applications in the backlog. During the four years since 2009, more than a 50% reduction was achieved. First action pendency was reported as 19.2 months.


Telework program fraud allegations

In 2012, the USPTO initiated an internal investigation into allegations of fraud in the telework program, which allowed employees to work from home. Investigators discovered that some patent examiners had lied about the hours they had worked, but high level officials prevented access to computer records, thus limiting the number of employees who could be punished.


See also

*Confederate Patent Office *Criticism of the United States government#Criticism of agencies, Criticism of the United States government § Criticism of agencies *Electronic Filing System (USPTO) *''Ex Parte Quayle'' *Google Patents *John Ruggles *Invention Secrecy Act *NASA spinoff *National Inventors Hall of Fame *Old Patent Office Building *Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) *Patent model, Patent Model *Patent office, Patent Office *Patent Office Professional Association (POPA) *Science and technology in the United States *Technological history of the United States *Timeline of United States discoveries *Timeline of United States inventions *Yankee ingenuity *1836 U.S. Patent Office fire *1877 U.S. Patent Office fire


References and notes


Further reading

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External links

*
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