A World of Patent Information for Entrepreneurs

How to Obtain Old File Histories from the USPTO

Most recent file histories are available in the USPTO’s Public PAIR system. However, older documents have to be obtained either from a company that specializes in file histories (if you’re out of the area) or directly from the Patent Office. Because I am located here in Alexandria, it’s very easy for me to go to the Patent Office and make the copies I need. The only problem is that it can be difficult to find information on the PTO website about whom to call and where to go. Hence this blog post.

If you are located in the area, you can make copies at the US PTO File Information Unit, located in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington. Here is the address:

File Information Unit
Randolph Square Building
Room 3A20
2800 South Randolph Street
Arlington, VA 22206

Before going to the office, you will need to order up the files you want to copy. To do this call the File Information Unit at 703-756-1800. You will need a badge for the public search room, which you can get at the main USPTO office in Alexandria.

When you call them, they will ask for your badge number and which file or files you would like to have called up. The files are not stored on-site, so they have to be brought in from their warehouse. As long as the files are available, they can usually be delivered same-day or early the next day.

You will need to go to the File Information Unit office to make copies. Their office has several dozen copy machines that take copy cards. I recommend bringing your own stable remover and stapler, just in case there aren’t any available. You will need to take the file apart to make copies and then put it back together as you found it.