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What is the USPTO and Its Responsibilities?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency responsible for granting patents, registering trademarks, and licensing intellectual property rights. Understanding how the USPTO works is critical for businesses that rely on their intellectual properties and their protections. IP protections ensure that their products are properly protected from being stolen, copied, or used without permission.


If you don’t know who or what the USPTO is, let the intellectual property attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett explain in this and various other blogs.

Responsibilities of the USPTO

USPTO responsibilities include several different duties to maintain and manage intellectual properties in the United States. In addition to these core duties, the USPTO also assists inventors in obtaining foreign patents on their inventions. In the pursuit of these endeavors, they complete their responsibilities through:

  1. Patent Issuance: The USPTO examines past and current patent applications to grant new patents to inventors who meet certain criteria for novelty, usefulness, and non-obviousness. This ensures that the inventor has the exclusive right to profit from their invention for a certain period without violating the exclusive rights of other inventors.

  2. Trademark Registration: The USPTO also oversees the registration of trademarks. Trademarks are unique symbols, names, or phrases used by businesses to distinguish their goods or services from others in the marketplace.

  3. Maintaining Patent and Trademark Databases: The USPTO maintains comprehensive databases of all issued patents and registered trademarks. These databases are accessible to the public. This allows individuals and businesses to conduct searches to avoid infringement and to determine the availability of a potential trademark.

  4. Providing Information and Support: The USPTO provides information and support to inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses regarding intellectual property rights (IPR). This includes education about the patent and trademark process, as well as guidance on how to protect and enforce their intellectual property protections.

  5. Policy Development and Advocacy: The USPTO plays a role in shaping national and international intellectual property policy. It provides advice to the President, the Secretary of Commerce, and U.S. government agencies on intellectual property policy and enforcement as necessary.

  6. Dispute Resolution: The USPTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) handle disputes over patent validity and trademark registration. These boards are needed when a patent or trademark’s credibility is challenged or their IP protection denial is appealed.

The Importance of the USPTO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plays a pivotal role in promoting innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth. Here's why it is important:

  1. Protection of Intellectual Property: Without the USPTO to enforce IP protections, the protections don’t mean anything.

  2. Self-Sustaining Structure: The USPTO operates solely on fees collected from its users, not taxpayer dollars. This means that the organization is not a financial burden on the average person since it can support itself. This means that its operating structure is rather unique among federal agencies.

  3. Education and Outreach: The USPTO focuses on meeting the needs of businesses and IP owners with a strong emphasis on education and outreach. This helps inventors, businesses, and the general public understand the value of intellectual property rights.

  4. Partnerships for Advancement: The USPTO collaborates with other organizations to promote advancements in technology. For instance, it has a work-sharing program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide intellectual property training for its scientific workforce and support technological partnerships.

All Business Owners Should Be Familiar With the USPTO

A basic understanding of the USPTO is important for businesses that rely on their own IP. Having IP protection can help businesses and inventors protect their products and services.


For example, patenting an invention can provide exclusive legal rights to produce and sell the invention. Without proper protection, businesses may find themselves unable to stop competitors from copying their products or services.

Contact the IP Protection Attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett

When in doubt, contact intellectual property attorneys you can trust. We can work with you to ensure the USPTO is taking the proper steps to record and protect your products. With the right information and resources, you can rest assured that your inventions and branding will be properly protected from infringement. Contact us today for more information and help.

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