Information dissemination organizations

Table of Contents

Information dissemination organizations


Patent protection enables inventors to publish their work, secure in knowing they retain ownership of that work. Trademarks protect consumers from counterfeiters, and businesses from imitators. Fast access to patent and trademark information brings the benefits of new ideas quickly to everyone.

Our mission is to promote awareness of the information we hold, and to provide fast, effective access to that information. Our goal is to deliver information when and where our customers need, in the format required, and at a price that covers our costs but is affordable to the customer.

1998 Highlights

The Information Dissemination Office (IDO) served a record number of customers in FY 1998, but we nonetheless succeeded in improving our performance in meeting delivery schedules and cycle time standards. We met or exceeded our performance standards in 70 percent of our product and service deliveries, a seven percentage point improvement over the FY 1997 achievement of 63 percent. Our goal for FY 1999 is to improve our performance another 10 percent to meet or exceed our standards in 80 percent of deliveries. 3

The Certification Services program produced 242,519 copies of office records in FY 1998, 46 percent more than budgeted and 17 percent greater than were distributed in FY 1997. A new application image capture system, allowing faster and more efficient request processing, helped us to meet this new demand-over 85 percent of requests for patent application documents were fulfilled using this system.

The General Information Services program handled 10 percent more inquiries than in FY 1997, serving over 879,000 customers who called or wrote for general information. The program continued to exceed the industry standard goal of answering 80 percent of its calls within the first 20 seconds. We provided enhanced service through the introduction of the Enterprise Call Center, which enables the public to reach many areas of the PTO from a single 800 number. The program also mailed over 428,000 general information publications to customers in FY 1998, a program record.

PTDLs and Partnership Libraries

Two new Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs) were designated this year, in New Haven and in Hartford, Connecticut. These libraries extend coverage of the PTDL network to 83 libraries in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Partnership Libraries offer electronic access to the USPTO's patent image and text search systems and to the trademark search system, and provide video conferencing facilities for lectures, hearings, and interviews with examiners. Partnership Libraries are located in Detroit, Michigan; Sunnyvale, California; and Houston, Texas.

PTO World Wide Web Site

The PTO's Web site ( provides free access to a database of AIDS-related patents and to the PatBib database containing more than 22 years of searchable patent bibliographic data. In FY 1998, the average number of accesses per day to the PTO's Web site doubled from around 17,000 in October 1997 to 34,000 in September 1998. PatBib averaged 95,000 accesses per day; the AIDS database averaged over 3,000 per day. In 1998, Popular Science magazine recognized the PTO's Web site as one of the top fifty science and technology sites on the Web.

In August, we added a searchable text database of more than one million pending and registered trademark records to our Web site. We added trademark images to this database in September 1998, thus meeting the Commissioner's commitments two months ahead of schedule. PTO customers accessed the trademark database pages on average over 100,000 times per day in November and December, 1998.

CD-ROM publications

In FY 1998, we produced and distributed GLOBALPat, the European Patent Office and PTO sections of the First Page Database on CD-ROM. Together with the Patent Abstracts of Japan on CD-ROM, published by the Japanese Patent Office, GLOBALPat provides English-language abstracts, bibliographic data, and representative drawings for nearly all of the world's patent documents published over the last 20 years.

We continue to produce the Cassis CD-ROMs, which contain a wide variety of patent and trademark information and are for sale to the public, for distribution to intellectual property offices around the world, and for use at no charge in PTDLs and PTO search facilities.

In January, we introduced a new product to the Cassis CD-ROM line that provides the entire PTO backfile of facsimile images of trademark registrations. The 101 disc USAMark includes the full page images of the original registrations and papers representing any subsequent action taken on the registration, including amendments, renewals, and cancellations. We publish regular updates to this title.

Plans for FY 1999

In FY 1999 IDO will continue to focus on improving customer satisfaction, promoting the use and accessibility of our products, and delivering the highest quality information products and services. We will:

  • maintain a diverse information dissemination program to achieve our service goals;
  • use the Internet to deliver information, and make it possible to order and receive patent and trademark information products via the Internet;
  • reduce and contain the cost of disseminating information;
  • improve the accessibility of patent and trademark information from all regions of the United States.

We will continue to use the best-suited technology to disseminate information; we will expand our portfolio of information on products and services; and we will deliver the highest quality product to meet our customers' needs throughout the world. We will provide our products and services in response to orders received by Web, fax, and telephone; in our local search facilities, through our network of PTDLs, and through private companies who purchase source data from us, add value, and resell their products and services to thousands of their own customers.

Improving regional access to patent and trademark information

Patent and trademark depository libraries serve as partners with the PTO by providing access to patent and trademark information nationwide. In 1999, we aim to improve regional access to our services by expanding the network of PTDLs into high population areas with significant patent and trademark activity, and to establish additional partnership libraries.

Reaching Customers through the Internet

The PTO is currently developing two systems that will provide access to patent and trademark application information via the Internet. Both systems are on schedule to be operational in FY 1999.

Trademark application and registration status information will be made available to the general public through the Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system. Patent application information will be made available through PAIR, the Patent Application Information Retrieval system. In addition, the Internet site will provide general PTO information, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers for contacting examining attorneys and the trademark assistance center.

We have two other systems under development to enable customers to order and receive patent and trademark information products over the Internet. Again, both systems are on schedule to be operational in FY 1999.

The first of these, the next-generation order entry management system, will enable ordering via the Internet, permit customers to check the status of their orders, and receive some products electronically. The second system will enable customers to send patent and trademark assignment-related documents via the Internet directly to our system server for processing and recordation. Beginning in FY 2000, we will return recordation notices electronically to those who submitted assignment-related documents electronically.

In FY 1999 we will add additional patent data to our Web site to expand its searchable database offerings. We will provide access to the full text of patents granted since 1976, and will add patent image data since 1976. In addition, we will incorporate trademark data for inactive trademarks.

We also plan to use the Internet in FY 1999 as a means to access other PTO databases while at a PTDL. We will give priority to enhancing services at the Partnership Libraries in Sunnyvale, Detroit, and Houston.


3 No customer satisfaction data is available for IDO for FY 1998; we conduct customer surveys for IDO and the other PTO business lines in alternate years.

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