203.08 Status Inquiries [R-08.2017]
I. IN GENERAL
Status information relating to patent applications is available through the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. There is both a public and private interface 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 benefit. In private PAIR, an applicant (or applicant's registered patent attorney or registered patent agent) can securely track the progress of applicant's 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 Private PAIR makes available information relating to unpublished patent applications, but the applicant must associate a Customer Number with the application to obtain access.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.
Applicants and other persons seeking status information regarding an application should check the PAIR system on the Office website at www.uspto.gov/patents-application- process/checking-application-status/ check-filing-status-your-patent-application. Alternatively, the requester may contact the Application Assistance Unit (AAU) (see MPEP § 1730, subsection VI.C.). The AAU will check the relevant Office records and will inform the requester whether the application has been published or has issued as a patent. If the application has been published, the AAU will inform the requester of the publication number and publication date, and if the application has issued as a patent, the AAU will inform the requester of the patent number, issue date and classification. If the application has not been published, but is pending or abandoned then the AAU determines whether the requester is entitled to such information. See MPEP § 102 for additional information.
Inquiries as to the status of applications, by persons entitled to the information, should be answered promptly. Simple letters of inquiry regarding the status of applications will be transmitted from the Office of Patent Application Processing to the TCs for direct action. Such letters will be stamped "Status Letters."
If the correspondent is not entitled to the information, in view of 37 CFR 1.14, the correspondent should be so informed.
For Congressional and other official inquiries, see MPEP § 203.08(a).
II. NEW APPLICATION
A Notice of Allowability, Form PTOL-37, is routinely mailed in every application determined to be allowable. Thus, the mailing of a form PTOL-37 in addition to a formal Notice of Allowance and Fee(s) Due (PTOL-85) in all allowed applications would seem to obviate the need for status inquiries even as a precautionary measure where the applicant may believe the new application may have been passed to issue on the first examination. However, as an exception, a status inquiry would be appropriate where a Notice of Allowance (PTOL-85) is not received within three months from receipt of form PTOL-37.
Current examining procedures aim to minimize the spread in dates among the various examiner dockets of each art unit and TC with respect to actions on new applications. Accordingly, the dates of the "oldest new applications" appearing in the Official Gazette are fairly reliable guides as to the expected time frames of when the examiners reach the applications or action.
III. AMENDED APPLICATIONS
Amended applications are expected to be taken up by the examiner and an action completed within two months of the date the examiner receives the application. Accordingly, a status inquiry is not in order after reply by the attorney until 5 or 6 months have elapsed with no response from the Office. However, in the event that a six month period has elapsed, and no response from the Office is received, applicant should inquire as to the status of the application to avoid potential abandonment.
Applicants are encouraged to use PAIR to make status inquiries. See subsection I, above. A stamped postcard receipt or Electronic Acknowledgement Receipt for replies to Office actions, adequately and specifically identifying the papers filed, will be considered prima facie proof of receipt of such papers. See MPEP § 503. Where such proof indicates the timely filing of a reply, the submission of a copy of the postcard or Electronic Acknowledgement Receipt with a copy of the reply will ordinarily obviate the need for a petition to revive. Proof of receipt of a timely reply to a final action will obviate the need for a petition to revive only if the reply was in compliance with 37 CFR 1.113.