Inventors Assistance Center (IAC)
The Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) provides patent information and services to the public. The IAC is staffed by former supervisory patent examiners and experienced primary examiners who answer general questions concerning patent examining policy and procedure.
What IAC can do for you
- Answer general questions regarding patent examining policy
- Direct your call to appropriate USPTO personnel, as necessary
- Assist you with filling out forms
- Provide you with general information concerning rules, procedures, and fees
- Send you patenting information via mail or facsimile
What IAC cannot do for you
- Cannot answer questions concerning a particular patent application.
- Cannot give an opinion as to whether an invention is patentable.
- Cannot provide legal advice. (See Roster of Registered Patent Agents and Attorneys to locate a qualified practitioner.)
How to Contact the IAC
TTY customers can dial 571-272-9950 for customer assistance.
Upon dialing either of the above telephone numbers, you will first reach an automated information system. Often, the information sought can be obtained without speaking to an IAC representative. If you do not find the necessary information using the automated information system, your call will be forwarded to a USPTO Contact Center operator who can provide literature on patent topics, send you forms, and answer basic questions if this is all that is needed. The operator will transfer calls to the IAC as necessary. Currently, the IAC handles approximately 320 calls per day. So that we may assist all of our customers, we ask that you limit your calls to a reasonable length of time. A review of the materials available by mail or on the USPTO website prior to your call will make your questions more meaningful and should provide the IAC staff with a better opportunity to properly answer your questions.
Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Eastern Time
- The IAC will not be staffed during Government holidays . When the USPTO closes early (for example, due to weather conditions) the IAC will also cease operations.
- Operating Status for Washington DC Area
You may direct questions regarding how to use the Patent Electronic Business Systems to electronically file applications or seek status information to the Patent EBC Customer Service Center
Patents Ombudsman Program
The Patents Ombudsman Program is designed to enhance the USPTO’s ability to assist applicants with issues that arise during the patent application process. More specifically, when there is a breakdown in the normal prosecution process, the Ombudsman Program can assist in getting the process back on track. To request assistance from the Ombudsman Program, go to: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/ombudsman.jsp