Fostering and supporting innovation is, quite literally, the mission of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To advance this mission, the USPTO hosts a suite of web portals that empowers patent applicants, agents and attorneys to file patent applications electronically, to correspond efficiently with the USPTO, to monitor progress of pending applications and/or to review patent file histories to inform litigation, purchasing or licensing strategy.

In addition, the USPTO provides a number of developer-friendly and user-friendly open data resources1 that can be accessed by any interested party to receive current information about prosecution events for any published application, to update local docketing systems, to generate or update portfolio or competitive analysis, and/or to populate document templates to efficiently respond to official correspondence from the USPTO. These open data tools, however, appear to be generally unused. For example, although the USPTO receives nearly 6.8 million2 web visits to its various domains and subdomains per month, on average less than 200 open data download requests are made over the same time period.3 Even the most popular recently launched service (as determined by web traffic) accounts for less of 2% of monthly USPTO web traffic.4

As such, it appears that despite open data efforts by the USPTO, many patent system stakeholders—including patent applicants, researchers, agents and attorneys—may be unaware that such tools exist to inform patent docketing, research, prosecution, litigation and licensing decisions. Several USPTO services that patent stakeholders may find useful are introduced below:

Patent Examination Data System (PEDS) API

The USPTO has sunset the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) Bulk Data service in favor of a tool referred to as the Patent Examination Data System (PEDS). An initial beta release of PEDS was first accessible in 2017 and regular updates have been made to the API and developer documentation since. As of this writing, PEDS has advanced to version 1.6.0 and serves requests to access over 9 million patent records.5 Specifically, in addition to a user-friendly web UI, PEDS exposes a RESTful API to developers interested to search and download patent bibliographic data, patent term data, examiner information, attorney or representative information, applicant information and the like.

Conveniently, datasets served from PEDS are provided in one or more structured formats, such as JSON or XML. For users interested in updating local patent databases or docketing systems, PEDS can also serve delta dataset requests if provided with a date, or a date range. Of interest to patent practitioners and institutional clients, PEDS can be searched and/or filtered by attorney docket number.

Data served by PEDS is updated on a daily basis.

Global Dossier

Since fall 2015, the USPTO has also provided the Global Dossier, a collaborative set of “business services that provides IP stakeholders, free, secure, one-stop access to [patent application] information” of patent families.6 The Global Dossier provides access to the “full file history,”7 —also referred to as the file wrapper—in PDF format of any public pending or issued patent application filed in the IP5 Offices which includes the United States, China, the European Patent Office, Korea and Japan. The Global Dossier also provides access to international applications filed through the World Intellectual Property Office, which further extends access to PDF copies of file histories of applications filed in Australia, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom. Machine translations to English are provided automatically in PDF format and are available for download and review along with original file wrapper documents.

Data served by the Global Dossier is updated on a daily basis.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) API

The USPTO also provides access to PDF and bibliographic data related to proceedings before the PTAB. The service is referred to by the USPTO as the PTAB Bulk Data System. Similar to PEDS, the PTAB Bulk Data System provides a user-friendly web UI and exposes a RESTful API to developers interested to search and download documents and data related to application appeals, post-grant proceedings, inter partes reviews and the like. As of this writing, the PTAB API has advanced to version 2.0.

Data served by PTAB API is updated on a real-time basis and is synchronized with internal USPTO systems.

Other APIs and Services

The USPTO provides a number of other data products, APIs and bulk datasets including:

  • Office Action Citations API that services requests for “detailed information derived from the Office actions issued by patent examiners to applicants during the patent examination process.”8
  • Office Action Rejection API that services requests for “reasons for any rejections, objections, or requirements and includes relevant information or references” extracted from Office Actions issued by an examiner.9
  • USPTO Enriched Citation API that is one of the “first production implementations of the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) for data extraction at the USPTO” and services requests to locate “the statutes used by examiners, the claims rejected based on prior art, the particular prior art references cited, and specific relevant sections in the cited prior art references used.”10
  • PatentsView is a web UI that leverages near real-time USPTO data to provide customizable charts and other patent data visualizations.

The full catalog of open data resources and bulk datasets and API documentation can be found here.

Patent system stakeholders would be well-advised to leverage all tools—especially free tools—made available by the USPTO to reduce costs associated with licensing third-party data services and for the benefit of their clients’ preparation, prosecution, licensing, research and litigation needs. For example, stakeholders may be interested to determine: examiner statistics, examiner allowance rates, patent ownership information and other potentially insightful data.

Simply, these underutilized tools confer a large advantage to any prosecutor, litigator or researcher. Regarding open data, the USPTO has it made clear that new tools and APIs will continue to be released “so that anyone with the most basic programming experience will be able to explore [USPTO] data according to their own interests, curiosity, and business needs. This makes it easier for innovators to further mine this data, helping to inform [USPTO] customers where to spend their limited research and development resources, and providing a much more detailed view of the competitive landscape than previously available.”11