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Alexandria, UNITED STATES: The US Patent and Trademark Office is shown 14 March 2006 in Alexandria, Virgina. Congress established the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to issue patents on behalf of the government.The United States Patent and Trademark Office as a distinct bureau dates from the year 1802 when a separate official in the Department of State who became known as ?Superintendent of Patents? was placed in charge of patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office administers the patent laws as they relate to the granting of patents for inventions, and performs other duties relating to patents. AFP Photo/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexandria, UNITED STATES:  The US Patent and Trademark Office is shown 14 March 2006 in Alexandria, Virgina. Congress established the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to issue patents on behalf of the government.The United States Patent and Trademark Office as a distinct bureau dates from the year 1802 when a separate official in the Department of State who became known as ?Superintendent of Patents? was placed in charge of patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office administers the patent laws as they relate to the granting of patents for inventions, and performs other duties relating to patents.  AFP Photo/Paul J. RICHARDS  (Photo credit should read PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)