Understanding USPTO Public PAIR Portal

The United States Patent Office provides many products and portals for patent search professionals that can help them gain valuable insights pertaining to their inventions. PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval) is one of such portals that can be considered as one of the gold-mines of patent information as it offers plenty of information to patent professionals who are looking for various kinds of data in a single user interface.

With this article, we will list functionalities that are of immense use for people looking for important patent information. But, before we move ahead let’s define PAIR or let’s try to understand what this portal is all about.

What is PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval) System?

Speaking broadly, USPTO PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval) system is a free portal provided by the United States Patent Office to check the status of US patent applications and gain access to the correspondence documents between the applicant and the patent examiner. In other words, it is an interface through which patent professionals can gain access to the file history or the file wrapper of an intended patent.

Public PAIR vs Private PAIR

There is both a Public and Private side to PAIR. “Public PAIR” provides access to issued or published patent applications. To access Public PAIR, all you need to have is a patent, application, publication, or PCT number that you wish to search. “Private PAIR” provides secure real-time access to unpublished applications using digital certificates issued from the USPTO’s Public Key Infrastructure.

While accessing public pair is an easy affair, accessing Private PAIR requires some limited recognition like digital certificates issued from the USPTO’s Public Key Infrastructure.  However, it must be agreed that Private PAIR is more of a confidential one and it can be accessed only by those people who have some kind of prior recognition with the USPTO.

Logging in into the Public PAIR Portal

Step 1: Navigating to the PAIR Home Page

Patent search professionals can access the Home Page of Public PAIR with this link http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair. Once you are on the Home Page the portal will ask you for entry of a RECAPTCHA code and the portal will move further only and only if you enter a valid captcha code.

Step 2: Putting in the Document Identification Number

After entering the RECAPTCHA on the Public PAIR homepage, users must enter one of the following documents identifying numbers:

  • Application Number
  • Control Number
  • Patent Number
  • PCT Number
  • Publication Number

Once a record has been accessed, the following tabs of data can be accessed:

Application Data/Bibliographic Data: This is one of the most important tabs available in the Public PAIR interface which is situated at the extreme left of the interface. This tab is important as it houses all of the bibliographic data such as application number, status, publication number, examiner name, class/subclass, inventor, and title among other fields.

Continuity Data – The ‘Continuity Data Tab’ is optional and its appearance depends on the fact that if the record has any parent or child continuity data. In case the application has any parent or child continuity data this will be reflected in the PAIR Interface. In such a situation the document numbers will be listed and linked (if possible).

Transaction History: A list of transactions during the prosecution as well as the date on which they occurred. In other words we can say is that it keeps a record of every happening that occurred till date.

File Wrapper- This is the 4th tab available at the Private PAIR Interface counting from the extreme left and is one of the most important sections as it reveals some of the basic documents pertaining to the application.

The file wrapper contains PDF images of various documents that are communicated between the USPTO and the applicant. Some of the common documents that it houses are Fee Worksheets, Applicant Submitted Claims, List of References, Issue Information, and Non-final Rejections. Users can download PDF version of these documents free of charge. Thus, this section can be considered as one of the handiest information retrieval tools an applicant can have.

Fees- On clicking, this tab generates a pop-up window with the data needed to inquire about whether fees are up to date.

Published Documents – This tab houses related published documents like ‘Publication Number’ and ‘Patent Number’ and are listed here with links to view the full-text and image of said documents as well as access their respective PAIR entries.

Address & Attorney Agent – This tab reveals correspondence address for the attorney prosecuting the case as well as the other attorney/agents involved in the case.

Assignments – During the examination of a pending patent application or after the patent is granted, the owner of the patent may change: 1) the original owner may transfer ownership to another entity or party, through an “assignment;” or 2) the original owner may retain ownership but change its name. The original owner should record the assignment or name change with the USPTO’s Assignment Recordation Branch by filing a Recordation Cover Sheet along with a copy of the actual assignment or proof of name change.

All such information pertaining to change in ownership or assignments are recorded in this tab of PAIR Interface.

Display References – The USPTO has enhanced its PAIR system (Patent Application Information Retrieval) by adding a tab for cited references under which is listed all references cited by the examiner and application, including patents and NPL (non-patent literature) documents. Cited US and foreign patent documents may be downloaded but not NPL (for copyright reasons).

All we can say is that PAIR (Patent Application Retrieval System) is a critically important resource because it provides the most up-to-date US patent information to patent searchers who are intending to a comprehensive patent search for an invention.

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