What is a Trademark Office?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a federal agency of the Department of Commerce; the agency is responsible for the issuance of patents to inventors and trademark registration for intellectual property and product identification.
Located in Alexandria, Virginia, the Trademark Office operates under the legal basis expressed in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. This section states—among other things—that Congress has the authority to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by safeguarding—for a limited time—to inventors and authors the exclusive Right to their respective discoveries and writings.
Each state in the U.S. offers trademark offices that uphold the laws and processes instituted by the United States Trademark Office. To acquire a trademark at the state level, all applicants must file with the trademark office of the specific state in which protection is sought.
Mission of the Trademark Office:
The mission of the Trademark Office is to promote technological and industrial progress in the United States and to strengthen the economy by instilling regulations relating to the delivery and protection of patents and trademarks. The delivery of patents and trademarks ensures that creative thought and the construction of inventions will be protected, thus promoting the tangible construction of works.
The Trademark Office is also responsible for advising the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the president, concerning the administration of a trademark, patent and copyright. Furthermore, the Trademark Office will offer advice on the trade-related characteristics of intellectual property.
The trademark office will examine applications for trademark registration. If the trademark office approves said applications, the trademark will be registered on either the Supplemental Register or the Principal Register, depending on whether the mark satisfies certain criteria. This function; however, is somewhat unpopular as trademark applicants now seek more expedited services offered by state trademark offices.
Who Qualifies for Patents and Trademarks?
The Patent and Trademark Office only allows qualified professionals to practice before the office. The term “practice” denotes the tangible filing of a patent application on behalf of artists or inventors, the act of prosecuting patent applications and participating in appeals and other proceedings before the Patent and Trademark Office’s board.
The Patent and Trademark office establishes its own standards for individuals who are deemed eligible to practice; the Trademark Office requires that any individual practice seek registration. Individuals who register with the Trademark Office have passed the agency’s registration examination—these individuals are distinct from patent attorneys who are required to pass—in addition to the patent bar– a state bar exam.
Patent agents may only act in a representative capacity only in patent matters presented to the Trademark Office; these individuals may not represent patent holders or applicants in the court of law. To take the patent bar exam, the prospective candidate must possess a degree in physical science or engineering.
Unrepresented inventors may file patent applications on their own behalf. If the applicant is not familiar with the procedures of the Trademark Office, the examiner will suggest the filing party to hire a patent agent or attorney.