TMEP 709.04: Telephone and E-Mail Communications

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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709.04    Telephone and E-Mail Communications

 Examining attorneys should initiate telephone or e-mail communications (i.e., "informal communications") whenever possible to expedite prosecution of an application.  Similarly, applicants and qualified practitioners may telephone or e-mail examining attorneys, if they feel that a telephone call or e-mail will advance prosecution of an application. See TMEP §709.05 regarding guidelines for informal communications. Therefore, all documents filed in connection with the application should include the telephone number of the applicant or the applicant’s qualified practitioner.

The examining attorney must respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages within a reasonable time, normally the same working day and never later than the next working day.

Generally, the examining attorney who prepared the action, and not the supervisory or reviewing examining attorney, should be the person contacted by telephone or e-mail.  However, a non-signatory examining attorney must secure proper authorization from the managing attorney, senior attorney, or reviewing examining attorney before approving an amendment.

The action of the USPTO is based exclusively on the written record and all relevant communications, including informal communications, must be made part of the record. 37 C.F.R. §2.191.  Therefore, the examining attorney must use an examiner’s amendment ( see TMEP §§707–707.03), or priority action ( see TMEP §§708–708.05), upload all relevant e-mail communications, and enter a Note to the File regarding issues discussed by telephone. See TMEP §709.03.

Notes to the File must not summarize arguments or legal conclusions.  Rather, the Note to the File must merely list the issues discussed and indicate any agreement that may have been reached.  If no agreement was reached, that should be noted also.

If an examining attorney does not respond to a telephone or e-mail message within two business days, the applicant may telephone the law office manager or supervisor.  Contact information is available on the USPTO website at