How Do You Find the Status of a Patent?
You may occasionally learn about a competitive patent or
application but not know about it’s current application or patent status. Can you find out from the patent office
website yourself? Sometimes you can - sometimes not. Let's talk about the
The first concept to understand is the confidentiality of patent
application information. Although there are a few exceptions (there are always
exceptions) the general rule under 35 U.S.C. 122 is that patent applications
remain confidential until 18 months after filing - at which point they are
published. If you want to know about all of that in detail you can find it
here. But here is a shorter version that you might find helpful.
All right -what are the exceptions? An application will not be
published if it is:
(i) no longer pending;
(ii) subject to a secrecy order;
(iii) a provisional application; or
(iv) an application for a design patent.
And patent applications that have not been published under 35
U.S.C. 122 are generally preserved in confidence.
The PAIR System
But if a patent application has been published there is a free
source of information. This is the Patent Application
Information Retrieval (PAIR) system on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
PAIR displays information regarding patent application status.
There is a Public and Private side to PAIR. “ Public PAIR ” only displays
issued or published application status. To access Public PAIR, you need only
have a patent, application, or publication number that you wish to search.
There is a “Private PAIR”, but it is available primarily to patent
agents and attorneys and their professional assistants (paralegals) and then only to applications to which they are approved.
Private PAIR provides secure real-time access to pending application status and
history using digital certificates issued from the USPTO's Public Key
What Does Public PAIR Provide?
What does Public PAIR provide?
Public PAIR is available to the public (meaning you). It provides:
Group Art Unit:
Earliest Publication No:
Attorney Docket Number:
Earliest Publication Date:
Class / Subclass:
First Named Inventor:
Furthermore it provides a complete transaction history of the
application from the original filing and allows you to download all of the
communications between the applicant and the examiner.
Pretty comprehensive. If you have an application pending and it
has been published you can follow the patent status yourself and follow how
your patent agent or attorney is doing in his/her battles with the examiner.
And we should mention there are other free websites available for checking patent status. We will briefly cover them in a follow-up article. But they do not give you the access to the complete transaction history of the application or patent that the PAIR system does.