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1730    Information Sources [R-08.2012]


General information about patents, trademarks, products and services offered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and other related information is available by contacting the USPTO Contact Center at:

800-PTO-9199 or 571-272-1000

(TDD) 571-272-9950

An automated message system is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day providing informational responses to frequently asked questions and the ability to order certain documents. Customer service representatives are available to answer questions, send materials or connect customers with other offices of the USPTO from 8:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. EST/EDT, Monday-Friday excluding federal holidays.

For other technical patent information needs, the Inventors Assistance Center can be reached through customer service representatives at the above numbers, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST/EDT.

General information can also be obtained in person from the Public Search Facilities of the USPTO. See subsection IV. below.


A.   General Information

The USPTO Web site ( or provides a wealth of information to all users. The USPTO Web site offers links to news and notices (such as announcements, press releases, Official Gazette Notices and Federal Register Notices), USPTO contacts and addresses, activities and education related pages (such as the PTDL program and the Kids Pages), patent specific information (such as issued patents and published patent applications, general information pertaining to applying for a patent, electronic filing of patent applications, and reference materials such as the MPEP and examination guidelines), and trademark specific information (such as the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure and the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)). In addition, the Web site allows downloading of a variety of USPTO forms (including PCT forms), ordering copies of patents and trademarks, accessing a list of all current fees, paying patent maintenance fees, replenishing deposit accounts, accessing various legal materials, linking to related Web sites, etc.

B.   Electronic Business

The Patent Electronic Business Center (EBC) assists USPTO customers in filing patent applications electronically, submitting assignment documents for recordation, retrieving data, checking the status of pending actions, and submitting information and applications. The hours of operation of the EBC are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. - midnight (EST/EDT). The EBC can be reached by telephone at 866-217-9197 (toll-free) or 571-272-4100. The EBC may be reached by e-mail at and by fax at 571-273-0177.

1.   USPTO Databases

(a)   Issued Patents

The Patent Grants Database provides access to the full-text of all U.S. patents issued since 1976, and to the full-page images of all U.S. patents issued since 1790.

(b)   Published Applications

The Patent Applications Database provides both full-text and full-page images of all U.S. patent applications published since March 15, 2001.

(c)   Status Information

Status information relating to patent applications is available through the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. There is both a public and private side to PAIR. In public PAIR, information is available relating to issued patents, published patent applications, and applications to which a patented or published application claims domestic priority. In private PAIR, an applicant (or his or her registered patent attorney or registered patent agent) can securely track the progress of his or her application(s) through the USPTO. Private PAIR makes available information relating to unpublished patent applications, but the applicant must associate a Customer Number with the application to obtain access. See MPEP § 403 for Customer Number practice.

(d)   Image File Wrapper (IFW)

The Image File Wrapper (IFW) system uses image technology to replace the paper processing of patent applications in the Office. Paper components of these application files (including the specification, oath or declaration, drawings, information disclosure statements, amendments, Office actions, and file jacket notations) have been scanned to create electronic image files. For patent applications in the IFW system, the IFW file is the Official file and no access is granted to the original paper document sheets used to create the IFW file. All processing and examination is conducted using the electronic images instead of the paper source documents.

If an IFW file has been created for a patented application, published application, or an application to which a patented or published application claims domestic priority, the IFW file (with the exception of non-patent literature) is accessible through public PAIR. All patent applications filed after June 30, 2003 have been scanned into the IFW system and will be available in public PAIR as soon as they have been published or patented. Pending applications filed before June 30, 2003 are scanned into IFW as incoming papers are received in the Office. Non-patent literature (NPL) may be viewed using private PAIR (if an IFW file has been created) or obtained from the USPTO Office of Public Records.

Questions about IFW images viewed in PAIR should be directed to the Patent EBC.

(e)   Assignments on the Web (AOTW)

Assignment information is available for issued patents and published applications recorded since August 1980.

2.   Transacting Electronic Business

(a)   Filing Applications and Other Documents

The Electronic Filing System -Web (EFS-Web) allows customers to electronically file patent application documents securely via the Internet. See MPEP § 502.05 for more detailed information.

(b)   Paying Fees and Replenishing Deposit Accounts

The Office of Finance On-Line Shopping page may be used to pay maintenance fees or to maintain and replenish deposit accounts.

(c)   Ordering Copies and Publications

Copies of patent applications as filed and patent file wrappers that have been issued or published are available on-line from the Office of Public Records (OPR). Presentation patents may also be ordered on the web. Available service options, fees and delivery methods vary by document type. Contact OPR at 1-800-972-6382 or 571-272-3150 for more information.


For questions and information concerning the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the PCT Help Desk is available to provide assistance and may be reached by telephone at 571-272-4300 between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:30 pm (EST/EDT), Monday through Friday, or by facsimile at 571-273-0419, 24 hours a day. In addition, helpful information is available through the internet at the Office of PCT Legal Administration page of the USPTO Web site and at the World Intellectual Property Office Web site (


The following USPTO search and information resource facilities are accessible to the public:

  • (A) Public Search Facility (Madison East, first floor, 600 Dulany St., Alexandria, VA 22314) at 571-272-3275

    (Hours: Weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EST/EDT);

  • (B) Scientific and Technical Information Center
    • (1) Main Library (Madison West, first floor, 600 Dulany St., Alexandria, VA 22314) at 571-272-3547
    • (2) Biotech/Chemical Library (Remsen 1D58) at 571-272-2520

      (Hours: Weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST/EDT); and

  • (C) File Information Unit (Randolph Square, third floor, 2800 South Randolph St., Arlington, VA 22206) at 703-756-1800

    (Hours: Weekdays, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EST/EDT).


The USPTO cannot recommend any particular attorney or agent, or aid in the selection of an attorney or agent. A list of Attorneys and Agents Registered to Practice Before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may be purchased on DVD-ROM from the USPTO’s Office of Electronic Information Products (571-272-5600). The DVD-ROM is also available on the USPTO Web site ( from the “Products and Services Catalog.”

To obtain a list of registered patent attorneys and agents for a particular area, customers may either contact a customer service representative through the USPTO Contact Center (see “In General” above), or acquire the information from the USPTO Web site. The attorneys and agents list may be examined without charge at Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) and at many other libraries throughout the U.S. Many large cities also have associations of patent attorneys and agents which may be consulted.


A.   Recently Filed Applications

For information and questions concerning recently filed patent applications and filing receipts, contact the Application Assistance Unit at 571-272-4000 (hours: weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST/EDT).

B.   Pre-Grant Publication

For inquiries concerning projected pre-grant publication dates, contact the Application Assistance Unit at 571-272-4200.

C.   Status Information

For information on the status of a patent application, patent applicants who have access to PAIR should check PAIR. Alternatively, applicants may contact the Application Assistance Unit at 571-272-4200.

D.   Correspondence

For information pertaining to mail, facsimile, or hand-delivery of correspondence to the USPTO, see MPEP §§ 502 - 502.01.

E.   Copies of Documents

Inquiries regarding certified or uncertified copies of documents, including patent applications-as-filed, patent related file wrappers, patent copies, and reproduced copies of individual replacement pages or previous revisions of the MPEP, should be directed to the Office of Public Records’ Patent and Trademark Copy Fulfillment Branch at 571-272-3150 or 1-800-972-6382. Orders may be placed by facsimile when paying by VISA®, MasterCard®, American Express®, Discover®, or USPTO Deposit Account at 571-273-3250. To order file histories for self-service copying, contact the File Information Unit at 703-756-1800.

F.   Maintenance Fees

Information regarding maintenance fees may be obtained from the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system on the USPTO Web site, or by contacting the Receipts Accounting Division at 571-272-6500.

G.   Assignments

For questions pertaining to filing assignments or other documents affecting title, contact the Assignment Division at 571-272-3350. Documents may be submitted to the Assignment Division by facsimile at 571-273-0140. See MPEP § 302.09 for additional information.

H.   Petitions

For matters decided by the Office of Petitions, the appropriate USPTO personnel may be reached at 571-272-3282. Petitions to withdraw an application from issue may be sent by facsimile to 571-273-0025. All other facsimile transmissions to the Office of Petitions should be sent to the Central FAX Number 571-273-8300.

I.   PatentIn

For information regarding orders for the PatentIn software program, call the Electronic Information Products Division at 571-272-5600. For assistance downloading or using PatentIn, contact the Patent Electronic Business Center (see subsection II.B. above).



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Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:33