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April 06, 1999
#99-10

Contact:
Maria Victoria Hernandez
Brigid Quinn
703-305-8341

Press Release, 99-10

USPTO Extends Telephone Customer Service Hours

In response to customer needs and a commitment to customer service, General Information Services (GIS) customer service representatives are now available to assist customers calling 1-800-PTO-9199 from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time—three hours later than before.

“How do I get a patent on my invention?” “How can I protect my product name?” Last year nearly one million callers from around the world contacted the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) seeking answers to these and other similar questions. Most of these calls came to 1-800-PTO-9199, the agency's toll free general information number.

"Expanding the hours of our toll free telephone service is one more way the PTO is making government more accessible, and exemplifies the high priority the agency places on customer service,” said Q. Todd Dickinson, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks.

A recent customer survey indicated an overall satisfaction rating of 93 percent with the work of GIS. Those surveyed also pointed out the need for expanded hours to better serve West Coast customers and those who wished to call after working hours. The calls are answered by GIS customer service representatives who are typically the public's first point of contact with the PTO.

PTO's 1-800 number also has an automated message recording system that allows customers to leave requests for mailing of patent and trademark materials. This service is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. GIS mailed nearly 500,000 items to PTO's customers within 24 hours of the request last year. Customers calling from outside the U.S. or unable to use an 800 number can call (703) 308-4357.

The PTO is the Commerce Departments user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks; advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark and copyright protection; and trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Nearly 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,279 trademarks.

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