Guidance documents

A guidance document is an agency statement of general applicability and future effect, other than a regulatory action, that sets forth a policy on a statutory, regulatory, or technical issue, or an interpretation of a statute or regulation. Guidance documents are intended to provide helpful information to the public, such as clarifying obligations under an existing law or regulation, or providing information on agency procedures.  Guidance documents do not, however, themselves impose obligations on the public.

Please note that the contents of these guidance documents do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way.  These documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

Individual guidance documents that are subsequently incorporated into compilation guidance (such as the MPEP or TMEP) will be removed from this page.  Additionally, when revisions to guidance documents are issued, older guidance documents will be removed from this page.

The guidance documents found on this page include any Small Entity Compliance Guides that were prepared pursuant to section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).  In addition, consistent with the purposes of SBREFA, the USPTO has established a policy prohibiting retaliatory actions by its employees against regulated entities, which is found below.

Non-Retaliation Policy 

The Office of the National Ombudsman of the Small Business Administration (SBA) has asked all Federal agencies to make clear that, if a small business requests Ombudsman assistance on a matter or otherwise questions or complains about a Federal agency action, the agency will not retaliate in response.

The USPTO is committed to fair regulatory practices and supports the right of the regulated community to raise concerns about regulatory actions without the fear of retaliation. We take such concerns and allegations very seriously and strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. A complaint to the Ombudsman will not stop or delay investigations and legal or administrative proceedings as part of the USPTO’s ongoing responsibility to enforce relevant Federal laws.

Right to Comment to the Small Business Administration 

Small entities may comment about the USPTO’s regulatory practices to the Office of the National Ombudsman, Small Business Administration ( by email at or mail at Small Business Administration, Office of the National Ombudsman, 409 Third St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20416.      


Petitions to modify or withdraw a particular USPTO guidance document may be submitted by email at  Petitions should identify the specific guidance document by document name and ID number and include your reason(s) for requesting withdrawal or modification. If a response is sought, petitions should also include contact information.