Most patent practitioners probably visit on a regular, if not daily basis. There is always something new to discover on the site, for regular and new users alike. Here are a few tips and tools to get you started on making better use of everyday USPTO website resources and a few hidden jewels.

  1. Glossary of Terms. There seem to be any number of acronyms related to patents—AIA, ADS, IDS, MPEP, and more! Have you ever wondered what these or any other terms mean? Check out the PTO’s comprehensive glossary for A-Z definitions of IP terms.
  2. Public PAIR. One common issue with using Public PAIR is that the documents in the Image File Wrapper (IFW) are listed in reverse chronological order. Luckily, through one quick click of the mouse, you can easily put the documents in chronological order and save yourself lots of time!  Simply click on the up/down arrow button next to the “Mail Room Date” heading to switch the order of documents.
  3. Process for Obtaining a Utility Patent. The patenting process has many steps, players and activities. The PTO provides a helpful diagram of the process for obtaining a utility patent, including various decision-points such as what type of application to file, whether to seek international protection by filing globally, whether to request expedited examination, and ultimately when the USPTO examines and issues the application.  The Patent Process Overview provides information similar to that included in the flowchart, but in a different format.
  4. MPEP– The PTO provides access to ALL previous editions and revisions of the MPEP on their website. Having access to a past edition of the MPEP may be very useful to determine if, and how, a particular rule has changed.  The Change Summary included in each new version (see, e.g.,  Change Summary for the MPEP Ninth Edition Rev.07.2015 (October publication) makes it easy to identify changes over the most recent, previous edition.
  5. Subscriptions. Keeping up with all of the changes and initiatives at the PTO can be challenging.  Signing up for an email subscription to one or more of the PTO’s newsletters—including the America Invents Act Alerts, USPTO Press Releases, USPTO Monthly Review, and Patents Alerts—will allow you to receive news and information from the PTO right in your inbox.