Where does a patent come from?
Patent applications are submitted to the “USPTO” (more commonly referred to simply as the “PTO”), which is the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The PTO is an office of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is responsible for granting and overseeing patents (as well as trademarks). Thus, when a patent is granted to an inventor, that grant is issued from the PTO.
Within the PTO are various employees known as examining attorneys, or simply examiners. These examiners review submitted patent applications, determining whether a patent can be granted to the submitting inventor. Often, this requires the examiner to work with the submitting inventor (or, more often than not, the submitting inventor’s attorney) to address the examiner’s concerns about the patent application and whether it meets the formal requirements for obtaining a patent. This process of obtaining a patent from the PTO is known as “patent prosecution.”
For more information about the PTO, you can go to its surprisingly useful website.