Inventors Assistance Center (IAC)

Toll-Free: 800-786-9199
Local: 571-272-1000
TTY: 800-877-8339

The Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) provides patent information and services to the public. The IAC is staffed by former Supervisory Patent Examiners, experienced Primary Patent Examiners, various intellectual property specialists and attorneys who can answer general questions concerning patent examining policy and procedure.

What IAC can do for you

  • Answer general questions regarding patent examining policy.
  • Answer questions concerning necessary formats and items needed for your patent application.
  • Assist you with forms needed and with filling out the forms.
  • Direct your calls to appropriate USPTO personnel or web pages, as necessary.
  • Provide you with general information concerning patent examining rules, procedures, and fees.
  • Send you patenting information and forms via USPS mail or facsimile.


What IAC cannot do for you

  • Cannot give an opinion as to whether an invention is patentable.
  • Cannot provide legal advice or legal interpretations.
  • Cannot provide patent searches or other intellectual property research.
  • Cannot provide specific line-by-line completion of forms (but can provide directions).


How to Contact the IAC

  • Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 8:00 PM (ET), except federal holidays
  • Toll-free:  800-PTO-9199 (800-786-9199)
  • Local:  571-272-1000
  • TDD/TTY customers can dial 800-877-8339 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 (UCC) operator.  The UCC operator will provide answers to basic, non-technical questions and transfer calls to the IAC as necessary.  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 Web Site 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.

  • 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 USPTOs 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: