The USPTO University, the after-hours college of the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the graduation of 40 students today. USPTO-U, which began in 1994, is a tremendously successful on-site program that helps USPTO employees develop skills that will maximize their opportunities at the agency while minimizing the demands on their time. The program was initiated by the National Treasury Employees Union 243 members, USPTO's management, its Work Force Effectiveness Division (WED), and the Office of Human Resources.
This year's graduating class received various certificates and degrees from Northern Virginia Community College and Marymount University. The certificates and degrees awarded in this year's ceremony are: Career Studies Certificate in Business Information Technology, Associate Degree in Applied Science in Business Management, Associate Degree in Applied Science in Legal Assisting, Associate Degree in Applied Science in Administrative Support Technology, Associate Degree in General Studies, Computer Scientist Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts, Graduate Certificate in Information Resources Management, Graduate Certificate in Legal Administration, and Certificate from Innovative Employee Program.
USPTO administers patent and trademark laws protecting intellectual property and rewarding individual effort. Intellectual property is a potent force in the competitive free enterprise system. By protecting intellectual endeavors and encouraging technological progress, USPTO seeks to preserve the United States' technological edge, which is a key to our current and future competitiveness. USPTO also disseminates patent and trademark information that promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.
Over 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790 and more than 2.3 million trademarks have been registered since the first in 1870. Last year USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks.