37 CFR 102.24: Procedures for making requests for records

Taken from the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

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102.24    Procedures for making requests for records.

  • (a) Any individual, regardless of age, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence into the United States may submit a request for access to records to USPTO. The request should be made either in person at 10B20, Madison Building East, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, or by mail addressed to the Privacy Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450.
  • (b) Requests submitted by mail should include the words "PRIVACY ACT REQUEST" in capital letters at the top of the letter and on the face of the envelope. Any request which is not addressed as specified in paragraph (a) of this section or which is not marked as specified in this paragraph will be so addressed and marked by USPTO personnel and forwarded immediately to the Privacy Officer. A request which is not properly addressed by the individual will not be deemed to have been "received" for purposes of measuring time periods for response until actual receipt by the Privacy Officer. In each instance when a request so forwarded is received, the Privacy Officer shall notify the individual that his or her request was improperly addressed and the date when the request was received at the proper address.
  • (c) If the request follows an inquiry under § 102.23 in connection with which the individual’s identity was established by USPTO, the individual need only indicate the record to which access is sought, provide the USPTO control number assigned to the request, and sign and date the request. If the request is not preceded by an inquiry under § 102.23, the procedures of this section should be followed.
  • (d) The requirements for identification of individuals seeking access to records are as follows:
    • (1) In person. Each individual making a request in person shall be required to present satisfactory proof of identity. The means of proof, in the order of preference and priority, are:
      • (i) A document bearing the individual’s photograph (for example, driver’s license, passport or military or civilian identification card);
      • (ii) A document, preferably issued for participation in a federally sponsored program, bearing the individual’s signature (for example, unemployment insurance book, employer’s identification card, national credit card, and professional, craft or union membership card); and
      • (iii) A document bearing neither the photograph nor the signature of the individual, preferably issued for participation in a federally sponsored program (for example, Medicaid card). In the event the individual can provide no suitable documentation of identity, USPTO will require a signed statement asserting the individual’s identity and stipulating that the individual understands the penalty provision of 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3) recited in § 102.32(a). In order to avoid any unwarranted disclosure of an individual’s records, USPTO reserves the right to determine the adequacy of proof of identity offered by any individual, particularly when the request involves a sensitive record.
    • (2) Not in person. If the individual making a request does not appear in person before the Privacy Officer or other employee authorized to determine identity, a certification of a notary public or equivalent officer empowered to administer oaths must accompany the request under the circumstances prescribed in § 102.23(b)(9). The certification in or attached to the letter must be substantially in accordance with the following text:

      City of _________________

      County of ____________________:ss

      (Name of individual), who affixed (his) (her) signature below in my presence, came before me, a (title), in and for the aforesaid County and State, this _______ day of _________________, 20__, and established (his) (her) identity to my satisfaction.

      My commission expires _________________.


    • (3) Parents of minors and legal guardians. An individual acting as the parent of a minor or the legal guardian of the individual to whom a record pertains shall establish his or her personal identity in the same manner prescribed in either paragraph (d)(1) or (d)(2) of this section. In addition, such other individual shall establish his or her identity in the representative capacity of parent or legal guardian. In the case of the parent of a minor, the proof of identity shall be a certified or authenticated copy of the minor’s birth certificate. In the case of a legal guardian of an individual who has been declared incompetent due to physical or mental incapacity or age by a court of competent jurisdiction, the proof of identity shall be a certified or authenticated copy of the court’s order. For purposes of the Act, a parent or legal guardian may represent only a living individual, not a decedent. A parent or legal guardian may be accompanied during personal access to a record by another individual, provided the provisions of § 102.25(f) are satisfied.
  • (e) When the provisions of this subpart are alleged to impede an individual in exercising his or her right to access, USPTO will consider, from an individual making a request, alternative suggestions regarding proof of identity and access to records.
  • (f) An individual shall not be required to state a reason or otherwise justify his or her request for access to a record.
[Added, 65 FR 52916, Aug. 31, 2000, effective Oct. 2, 2000; para. (a) revised, 68 FR 14332, Mar. 25, 2003, effective May 1, 2003; para. (a) revised, 70 FR 10488, Mar. 4, 2005, effective Mar. 4, 2005]