Department of Commerce
                          Patent and Trademark Office

                               Paper Search File

   The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is exploring options for relying
less on paper as electronic search file enhancements are becoming
readily and more cheaply available. These options would include
adjustments to the paper files in the patent Public Search Room and
patent examiners' search rooms. Options could simplify any possible
future relocation of the PTO, and will take into consideration the
automated data bases now available for searching by both the examiners
and the public. The PTO wants to consider short term trade-off's, as
well as options for the long term. A public meeting will be conducted to
receive comments on all aspects or issues that should be included as
part of this review.
   The purpose of the meeting is to identify issues that should be
considered as part of a review to minimize reliance on and use of paper
files. Preliminary issues identified for review may include the

   1. Should the PTO reduce redundant or underutilized U.S. and foreign
paper search files for patents in the PTO? Additional questions for
review include the following:

   a. If there are redundant or underutilized paper search files of
patents, what and where are they?
   b. If the PTO reduces its reliance on the paper search files of
patents, what should be the plan for doing so?
   c. How should the PTO dispose of paper search files of patents found
to be surplus? (i.e., destroy, send to a warehouse for storage, etc.)

   2. Should the PTO change its policy on automated patent system
access? Related questions for review include:

   a. Should the PTO suspend the fees for using the automated patent
search systems if the paper search files are removed from the public
search facilities?
   b. What is the relationship between quantity, location and
availability of computer workstations needed and changes made to the
availability of paper files of patents for both the public and examining
   c. Are automated patent image and text search acceptable substitutes
for the paper files? If they are not acceptable, should the PTO
establish additional criteria, and what should these be?

   3. Should the PTO remove U.S. patents from the prosecution file
histories which are stored in the files repositories?

   The meeting will be held on February 11, 1997, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
and ending no later than 4:00 p.m. It will be held in Suite 819 of
Crystal Park 1, located at 2011 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Va. Written
comments must be submitted on or before February 28, 1997.
   Address written comments to the Commissioner of Patents and
Trademarks, Attention: Wesley H. Gewehr, Administrator for Information
Dissemination, Crystal Park 3, Suite 451, Washington, D.C. 20231, or fax
to (703) 306-2737. Written comments should include suggestions on issues
that should be a part of the PTO's review of options.
   For Further Information Contact: Cheryl E. Kazenske, Manager, Public
Search Services Division, by telephone at (703) 308-3040 or by mail to
Patent and Trademark Office, Public Search Services Division, Crystal
Plaza 3, Room 2C04, Washington, D.C. 20231.

December 10, 1996                                LAWRENCE J. GOFFNEY, JR.
                                        Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
                                                          of Commerce and
                                            Acting Deputy Commissioner of
                                                   Patents and Trademarks