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Public PAIR updates

From November 2007 through January 2008, regular users of Public PAIR observed that system availability and response time were erratic. After several unsuccessful attempts to prevent disruptive bulk downloading, the USPTO implemented a security feature known as CAPTCHA.

Public PAIR users are currently required to manually enter a two-word verification code in order to access Public PAIR data. This restriction was put in place to allow equitable availability of the data for all. Details about this security feature are available at

Summary of Feedback on Public PAIR Data Access:

On April 30, 2008 the USPTO hosted a public webcast that described efforts to ensure access to patent information via the Public Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. As part of this webcast, Commissioner for Patents John Doll and Deputy Chief Information Officer Deborah Diaz explained the implementation of the CAPTCHA tool that requires manual entry of a two-word verification code, thus providing access to Public PAIR for human users but preventing abuse by automated scripts. Commissioner Doll and Deputy CIO Diaz also invited public questions and feedback regarding data gathering requirements, and requested mention of specific details regarding the type of PAIR data needed and how often it is accessed.

Public questions and feedback were accepted from April 30 through June 1, 2008. In all, USPTO collected 37 responses*, representing inventors/agents, individual researchers, law firms, corporate patent holders, and commercial data providers/vendors.

Of those who identified specific data needs, nearly 80 percent indicated a requirement for access to all data currently available through Public PAIR. A significant number expressed an interest in registering as authorized users in order to gain unrestricted access to the public data. Most responses indicated a need to access the data frequently, ranging from daily to weekly, or monthly. There is also a clear interest in being able to receive automatic notification of status changes or other updates, and some interest in receiving packaged deliveries of data (for example, via DVD or ZIP file). 

Many respondents indicated that their work was impeded without volume access to PAIR data, and at least two reported that they were unable to retrieve data at all under the current access restriction.

The USPTO has reviewed all public feedback and is continuing to analyze available resources and alternatives. There are no immediate plans to remove the CAPTCHA restriction. However, we are evaluating a solution that will ease the restriction and permit limited automated access. The USPTO is committed to providing access to public data, and recognizes the urgency in implementing support for both interactive and automated access to Public PAIR. 

The USPTO will keep you informed and involved as we continually work to improve access to public patent information contained in the PAIR system.

To view the on demand recording of the event, please visit

To read the original announcement about the webcast, see the Official Gazette notice at

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* Some responses were submitted as an aggregation from multiple sources.

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