The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has reached a major milestone in maximizing electronic tools to make the patent examination process fully transparent to the public. For the first time, anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world can use USPTO's website (www.uspto.gov) to track the status of a public patent application as it moves from publication to final disposition, and review documents in the official application file, including all decisions made by patent examiners and their reasons for making them.
The system, known as Public PAIR (Patent Application and Information Retrieval), offers the public an advanced electronic portal to PDF viewing, downloading and printing an array of information and documents for approximately 500,000 patent applications not covered by confidentiality laws. As new applications become eligible for publication 18 months after they are filed, they will be added to the database. It is expected that about 300,000 application files will be added annually.
"Public PAIR throws open the window to the patent examination decision-making process of every published patent application," noted Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO. "With the click of a mouse, information that is critical to understanding how a technology is evolving is now available to innovators. This will help American industry better target its research and development investments, and be more responsive to the demands of the national and global marketplaces."
Public PAIR builds on the USPTO's year-old electronic IFW patent application file system, which is replacing paper files and is now used by over 95 percent of patent examiners to review applications. Public PAIR also offers a quick-click feature for ordering certified copies of patent applications and application files. Since 1998, all patents have been available to the public on the USPTO's website, www.uspto.gov. Today, nearly 6.8 million patents are on the USPTO's website, with over 3,000 new issues added each Tuesday.
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