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September 21, 1999
#99-31

Contact:
Brigid Quinn
Maria Hernandez
703-305-8341

Press Release, 99-31

PTO Computer Systems Ready for New Millennium

All of the computer systems critical to the work of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)—a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce—have been verified operational for the year 2000 and beyond.  

The agency began individually testing, repairing and replacing its information technology (IT) infrastructure in January 1996 to ensure all components would function properly in the new millennium. On July 24th and 25th of this year, the PTO successfully tested 18 of its most critical systems, in combination, in a simulated year 2000 production environment. All new systems are independently tested for Y2K compliance before being integrated into the agency's IT infrastructure.

"Patents and trademarks are an integral part of America's thriving economy, so Y2K compliance is a must for the PTO," noted Q. Todd Dickinson, acting assistant secretary of commerce and acting commissioner of patents and trademarks. "Our customers, who range from IBM, a leader in electronic commerce technology, to the independent inventor, with the latest fishing lure design, depend on patents and trademarks to successfully market their products, and are expecting a seamless transition to 2000," Dickinson added.

The PTO is a technology-dependent organization. The agency relies on nearly 600 software products operating on 44,000 computer hardware components to support its mission. Last year the agency issued 156,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks. In the past year, PTO's computer systems processed more than 92 million business transactions and its patent and trademark examiners ran more than 8 million searches on the agency's extensive data bases to facilitate PTO's work in 1999.

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