US Patent Offices: How Does the Structure of USPTO Work?

US Patent Offices: How Does the Structure of USPTO Work?

When you are a creator, you will obviously put all your hard work into doing your work most uniquely. But many times we find other people copying or plagiarizing our work. That is when you require a trademark that tells you it exclusively belongs to you. To do that, you need to visit the US patent offices and get your trademark.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) exists in the US for more than 200 years. It is a government organization that looks after all the trademark applications, processes the patents, and finally, broadcasting information to the public.

So, to know everything about the US patent offices, how it works, and all related information, scroll down below.

Patent Office Definition

Before telling you how the US patent offices work, it is essential you know everything about it. So, here we will tell you the patent office definition in detail.

A trademark or patent office can either be an intergovernmental or governmental organization. It controls the patents and decides whether or not the invention requires a patent. The office also checks if the patent requests have fulfilled all the conditions that patentability requires.

History of United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

In 1790, George Washington – the President of the United States then commenced the Patent Act for the first time. When he passed the Act, the Executive and Secretary of State also signed it.

Later, the State Department clerks took over responsibility. In the year 1802, the State Department made a new role,, which was the commencement of the patent office for the first time.

In 1881, the trademark registration began in this office.

Since the Patent Act in 1790, the US patent offices have granted more than eight million patents to date. On average, the office receives 300,000 trademarks and around 485,000 applications of patents each year.

In 2011 on September 16, President Obama decided to sign the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which he finally signed. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) sponsored the bill. According to the law, the amendment was done to ‘first to file’ (FTF) from ‘first to invent.’ It was a reform in the US patent offices that remained the same through the decades.

Obama gained immense praise as it meant that UPSTO could now set its fees, and others did not have the power to interfere in the proceedings.

Eventually, the FTF came into effect in 2013, March 13. Oppositions did not like this reform as it posed a threat to large corporations. That is because now, smaller organizations had the power to file more ideas and become independent companies. Oppositions could conclude seeing the Canadian patent system that brought into effect FTF, which was beneficial for small companies and independent inventors.


The USPTO is an agency that works in the U.S Department of Commerce. They issue patents to businesses for their inventions and inventors.  The agency also provides a trademark for the identification of intellectual property and products.

The United States of Patent and Trademark Office works as an independent body. Unlike other federal agencies, USPTO does not depend on the tax. It operates just like any other business and gets millions of applications to request patents and trademarks. They imply and set their charges according to the services the company provides.

The office was first in the Crystal City area that is close to Virginia, Arlington. In 2005 the company was moved to Alexandria in Virginia. Every officer, including the Chief Information Officer, who was staying in Crystal City’s southern part had to move. By April 27 in 2009, all officers were all moved to a new building called Randolph Square in Shirlington Village.

Currently, the Director of USPTO and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property is Andrei Iancu. President Donald Trump nominated him in 2017 in August. Finally, on February 8, 2018, Andrei Iancu came into power. At Irell & Manella LLP, Iancu was the managing partner after he joined the US patent offices. In this office, Iancu’s main focus was on the litigation of intellectual property.

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office also works with the Japan Patent Office and the European Patent Office. They work jointly as a part of the Trilateral Patent Offices.

The USPTO also works as an International Preliminary Examination Authority, an International Searching Authority, and a Receiving Office. It works in these dynamics for the international patent applications that maintain the Patent Cooperation Treaty regulations.

Mission Of USPTO

The United States of Patent and Trademark keeps a historical record permanently maintaining the United States Constitution’s guidelines. In Article 1, Section 8, the United States patent system is listed that has the definition of the Congress powers.

US patent offices try to promote both technological and industrial progress. By promoting this, they believe that the national economy of the United States will strengthen. Some of the missions the USPTO follows are:

  • Keeps administering every law that relates to trademarks and patents;
  • Keeps advising the President of the United States, the administration, and the Secretary of Commerce about copyright protection, patent, and trademark;
  • Tries to provide to trades that relate to intellectual properties.

Structure of USPTO

The headquarters of USPTO is the Alexandria Campus. It consists of 11 buildings that have a city-like feel. You will see the ground floor to have retail shops. More so, it has the presence of several residential buildings that are present between two metro stations. The metro stations that separate the buildings are Eisenhower Avenue station and King Street station.

The Alexandria Campus is present between Elizabeth lane on the west, John Carlyle street on the east, Eisenhower Avenue on the south, and Duke street. In 2009, there was a building in Arlington, Virginia.

In 2014, the USPTO wanted to open satellite offices for the first time in Silicon Valley, Dallas, Detroit, and Denver. People came up with an idea to strengthen their power and reduce backlogs.

On July 13, 2012, in Detroit, the office was opened. But the plans to open the other satellite offices were stopped due to a budget restriction. However, the USPTO overcame the budget restriction later in 2015; the satellite office opened in San Jose City Hall.

Employee Structure at the USPTO

The PTO had only 9716 employees by the end of 2009 September 30, whicwhich marks the ending of a fiscal year in the United States. Almost all the employees were in Alexandria, in their headquarters complex consisting of five buildings.

6,242 employees among 9716 were patent examiners. In those 6242 employees, almost most of them were given tasks to check the utility patents. And only about 99 of them were given the task to check the design patents. 388 of the patent examiners’ patent examiners were trademark examining attorneys, and the rest of the people are support staff.

Growth of USPTO

In 2009, the rate of growth in the USPTO was slower compared to the way it has grown today. As the fiscal year ended in 2018, the United States of Patent and Trademark Office consisted of 12,579 employees. Out of which 579 were trademark examiners, 3815 were support staff, and 8185 were patent examiners.

You will notice that most of the employees working at the USPTO are patent officers. The officers do hold certain scientific disciplines but do not needfully require a law degree. But the trademark examiners must have licenses as attorneys.

How does the Structure of USPTO work?

If you check carefully, you will see that the examiners strictly work under a system that gives count-based production. The examiners count the applications and earn counts after composing, then filing, and finally, mailing. In the final process, the applications are sorted according to merits and then disposed of if required.

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You will find the US patent offices to consist of primarily three bodies. As the head, there is the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations that is presently Peggy Focarino. Then comes the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy that is presently Andrew Hirshfeld. And finally comes the Commissioner for Patent Resources and Planning that lies vacant in the office now.

The Patent Operations divide themselves into nine various technological centers that cover several arts.

Before the present laws that were effective in 2012, the patent examiners would appeal to the administrative law body known as the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences of USPTO.

The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences would request the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It could also be put to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. All of which, if not settled, would be placed in front of the United States Supreme Court.

But later, the America Invents Act changed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences into the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Just we have told you above, trademark examiners were asked to appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

The downfall of the USPTO

With the increase in workload, there is a delay in the filing and issuing of patent applications. The United States of Patent and Trademark is presently working on reducing their workload and taking up new employees.

By the end of the fiscal year 2006, they employed 1193 examiner, 1215 by 2007, and in 1211 by 2008. They believed in taking up new employees continuously, but the economic crisis did support recruitment after 2012.

Advance Steps by the USPTO

Patent Training Academy was a training program done by the USPTO in 2006. The program happened for eight months and trained new examiners. They were taught patent law fundamentals and how the examination process takes place in a complete college-environment.

The US patent offices took an advance step, but due to a crisis in funds, they had to close down the program.

The USPTO did not declare it, but it was a rumor that came up in 2009.

However, the Acting Commissioner for Patents- Focarino in 2009 May denied the rumor. He added, saying that there was a change in the goal of training new examiners and waved to only 600 students. Finally, 588 students wanting to become a patent examiner joined the campus by September 2009.

The USPTO joined hands with Girl Scouts present in the USA and made a merit badge known as Intellectual Property Patch. They got rewards at four different levels.

Fact about US Patents

Let us check out some quick facts about patents:

  • Samuel Hopkins was given a patent in 179, July 31, for improving in Pearl ash and Pot ash. President George Washington signed it.
  • The patents passed from 1790 to 1836 and considered as X-patents. There were almost 10,280 issued by then. But they were all destroyed by fire. However, they were reissued only 3000 but mentioned the letter ‘X’ on them.
  • There are more than 150,000 patents pass through USPTO worldwide yearly. In the year 2011, the USPTO received 16,020,302 applications and passed 8,743,423 patents.
  • Joseph Marron invented a Coherent LADAR [System] that was made using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection. The invention can improve ranging (LADAR) and laser detection. It was the first patent cover to have a redesign. The cover was taken over to Oval Office and asked to be signed by President Trump during a special ceremony.

Final Thoughts

As we end our article today, we hope you know possibly everything about the US patent offices and more.

If you are into small businesses or an inventor, you can apply to the USPTO and get your patent. You can try out the electrical system and also apply to get a patent. The website has formed, and you can attach the documents into a PDF. Further, you can pay the fees using your credit card.

So, if you wish to get a patent for yourself, log in and apply today!

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