About PTOS

Patent and Trademark Office Society

The Patent and Trademark Office Society is for Patent and Trademark professionals and other interested individuals. Founded in 1917, the Society is today internationally recognized for its activities in the patent and trademark fields. From its inception, the Society has actively influenced the patent and trademark systems - promoting the systems' growth and well-being, recalling our rich heritage and promoting the social and intellectual welfare of our members.

To appreciate the Society's present activities, it helps to look at our history. It all began on January 4, 1917, when a group of employees of the Patent Office formed the Patent Office Society because no organization or interested and responsible agency existed to effect needed improvements in the patent system.

Since the beginning, the objectives of the Society have remained essentially unchanged. They are stated in the Society's constitution as follows:

The purposes of this Society shall be to further the technological development of the United States in so far as the patent and trademark systems are or may be factors, to promote and foster a true appreciation of those systems, to cultivate the highest standards of professional ethics among patent practitioners and Patent and Trademark Office professionals and to promote the professional and social welfare of the members of the Society, and to perform any other lawful purposes ancillary to the patent and trademark systems.

The promotion of the intellectual welfare of its members first engaged the attention and efforts of the founders of the Society. In 1917, an educational program for examiners was instituted which consisted of weekly lectures on scientific and engineering subjects, Patent Office practice and Patent Law. These lectures, most of which were published in booklet form, continued on a regular basis until 1930 when the pressure of work required curtailment of the program. The program was revitalized in 1937 but was again dropped in 1941 for the duration of World War II. Since 1947, lectures, films and videos concerning a wide variety of subjects have been periodically presented. In addition to films and lectures, the Society has sponsored numerous field trips to locations such as the DuPont Experimental station in Wilmington, Delaware and the General Motors automobile assembly plant in Baltimore Maryland.

One of the most fruitful endeavors of the Society in the area of education was the publication of the first Manual of Patent Office Procedure. The first Manual was written by two employees of the Office and was published in 1920 by the Society. This Manual, with its eight revisions, often referred to as Wolcott's Manual, was the only procedural manual available until 1949 when the Patent Office assumed the publication of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure.

A most successful endeavor of the Society in promoting the professional and intellectual welfare of its members and the entire patent profession is the publication of the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society. The first Journal has been in publication since September 1918 and has been in continuous publication since then. The Journal has been a principal medium for the dissemination and exchange of ideas in the fields of patents, trademarks and copyrights. To encourage the presentation of quality articles, each year the Society presents the Dr. Joseph Rossman Memorial Award for the best article appearing in the Journal. The Journal has received wide professional acceptance and is frequently cited in Court cases.

In addition to the Journal, the Society publishes the Unofficial Gazette, which is distributed within the Patent and Trademark Office and to all Associate Members as a medium of communication between the Board of Directors of the Society and the Society membership. The Unofficial Gazette features presentations of both professional and recreational interest, letters to the editor, reports on Society activities, and timely, topical cartoons.

The Patent and Trademark Office Society has been active since its formation in promoting necessary reforms in the patent system and patent laws. As early as 1917 the Society was consulted by the National Research Council for recommendations with respect to:

  • establishing the Office as an independent agency
  • formation of a single Patent Court of Appeals
  • Patent Office staffing and salaries

In 1933, at the request of the Secretary of Commerce, the Society canvassed Patent Office personnel for suggestions on improving service and practice in the Patent Office and particularly for recommendations relating to such subjects as:

  • requiring more complete searches
  • elimination of multiplicity of claims
  • a fee schedule dependent on the number of claims
  • reduction of public use to one year
  • increasing work on classification
  • increasing funds for the Scientific Library

Activities aimed at the improvement and proper implementation of procedure and laws have continued to this day. For example, in 1950 the Society initiated cooperative efforts among Patent Examiners, Defense Agencies and the National Inventors Council in the solution of patent problems arising in defense projects. In 1951 the Society cooperated with the American Patent Law Association in formulating a code of ethics in government. In 1957 the Society published a comprehensive report on salaries in the patent field and testified before the House and senate Civil Service Committees with respect to its findings. And in 1958 the Society assisted in the passage of a law which raised the salary of the commissioner of Patents and increased the membership of the Board of Appeals.

In 1961 the Society assisted in the planning and sponsoring of the 125th Anniversary Celebration of the 1836 Patent Act, the first modern patent act; recommended and secured adoption of improvements in the Patent Office Incentive Awards Program; and cosponsored an international workshop on Information Retrieval with the Patent Office under a grant from the National Science Foundation to the Society. That was also the year that the Society became incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia. In 1962, the Society presented its views on comparability between scientific and professional salaries in the Office and those in private industry to the Civil Service Commission, and by invitation, presented its opinion to the United Nations on the role of patents in the transfer of technology to underdeveloped countries. In 1964, the Society provided judges and awards at the International Science Fair for the first time, and successfully urged defeat of a bill to permit all general attorneys to practice before the Patent Office. In 1965, the Society participated in the proceedings of the 175th Anniversary of the Patent System and in the Inventor's Day activities at the New York World's Fair.

The Society has also sent representatives to the Patent, Trademark and Copyright Section of the American Bar Association at its annual conventions.

In keeping with our purpose of promoting the trademark system as well as the patent system, the Patent Office Society became the Patent and Trademark Office Society in November 1984

By Laws (pdf document - 86kb)
Constitution (pdf document - 151kb)