The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides patent protection to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification. The USPTO is currently based in Virginia. Since 1991, the office has been fully funded by fees charged for processing patents and trademarks. It cooperates with the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office pursuant to trilateral agreements. It is also an International Searching Authority and an International Preliminary Examination Authority for international patent applications filed in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The mission of the PTO 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 President of the United States, and copyright protection, and providing advice on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Each year, the PTO issues thousands of patents to companies and individuals all around the world. As of March 2006, It has issued over seven million patents.
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