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Public Hearings on the Patent Paper Search Files

Department of Commerce
Patent and Trademark Office
Paper Search Files

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-offs, 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 following:

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 corps?

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.


Lawrence J. Goffney, Jr.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks

United States Patent and Trademark Office
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Last Modified: 7/4/2009 2:56:45 PM