Law Dictionary

Patent and Trademark Office

Agency PTO
  1. Commerce Department agency charged with granting patents and registering trademarks. The PTO examines patent applications and, in granting a patent, provides inventors with exclusive rights to the results of their creative work. Trademarks, registered for ten years, with renewal rights of equal term, are examined by the PTO for compliance with various statutory requirements to prevent unfair competition and consumer deception. In addition, the PTO maintains public-access files containing over 30 million documents, including U.S. and foreign patents and U.S. trademarks; hears and decides appeals from prospective inventors and trademark applicants; participates in legal proceedings involving patents and trademarks; maintains a roster of patent agents and attorneys; and advocates strengthening intellectual property protection worldwide.


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