MPEP 301.01
Accessibility of Assignment Records

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in Januay 2018

Previous: §301 | Next: §302

301.01    Accessibility of Assignment Records [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.12 Assignment records open to public inspection.

  • (a)
    • (1) Separate assignment records are maintained in the United States Patent and Trademark Office for patents and trademarks. The assignment records, relating to original or reissue patents, including digests and indexes (for assignments recorded on or after May 1, 1957), and published patent applications are open to public inspection at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and copies of patent assignment records may be obtained upon request and payment of the fee set forth in § 1.19 of this chapter. See § 2.200 of this chapter regarding trademark assignment records.
    • (2) All records of assignments of patents recorded before May 1, 1957, are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The records are open to public inspection. Certified and uncertified copies of those assignment records are provided by NARA upon request and payment of the fees required by NARA.
  • (b) Assignment records, digests, and indexes relating to any pending or abandoned patent application, which is open to the public pursuant to § 1.11 or for which copies or access may be supplied pursuant to § 1.14, are available to the public. Copies of any assignment records, digests, and indexes that are not available to the public shall be obtainable only upon written authority of an inventor, the applicant, the assignee or an assignee of an undivided part interest, or a patent practitioner of record, or upon a showing that the person seeking such information is a bona fide prospective or actual purchaser, mortgagee, or licensee of such application, unless it shall be necessary to the proper conduct of business before the Office or as provided in this part.
  • (c) Any request by a member of the public seeking copies of any assignment records of any pending or abandoned patent application preserved in confidence under § 1.14, or any information with respect thereto, must:
    • (1) Be in the form of a petition including the fee set forth in §1.17(g); or
    • (2) Include written authority granting access to the member of the public to the particular assignment records from an inventor, the applicant, the assignee or an assignee of an undivided part interest, or a patent practitioner of record.
  • (d) An order for a copy of an assignment or other document should identify the reel and frame number where the assignment or document is recorded. If a document is identified without specifying its correct reel and frame, an extra charge as set forth in § 1.21(j) will be made for the time consumed in making a search for such assignment.

Assignment documents relating to patents, published patent applications, registrations of trademarks, and applications for registration of trademarks are open to public inspection. Records related to assignments of patents, and patent applications that have been published as patent application publications are available on the USPTO website. To view the recorded assignment document itself, members of the public must place an order pursuant to 37 CFR 1.12(d).

The Office will not open only certain parts of an assignment document to public inspection. If such a document contains two or more items, any one of which, if alone, would be open to such inspection, then the entire document will be open. Thus, if a document covers either a trademark or a patent in addition to one or more patent applications, it will be available to the public ab initio; and if it covers a number of patent applications, it will be so available as soon as any one of them is published or patented. Documents relating only to one or more pending applications for patent which have not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b)  will not be open to public inspection.

Copies of assignment records relating to pending or abandoned patent applications which are open to the public pursuant to 37 CFR 1.11 or for which copies or access may be supplied pursuant to 37 CFR 1.14 are available to the public. For pending or abandoned applications which are not open to the public pursuant to 37 CFR 1.11 or for which copies or access may not be supplied pursuant to 37 CFR 1.14, information related thereto is only obtainable upon a proper showing of written authority. For applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, the written authority must be from (A) an inventor, (B) the applicant, (C) the assignee or an assignee of an undivided part interest, (D) a patent practitioner of record, or (E) a person with written authority from (A), (B), or (C) or (D). See 37 CFR 1.12. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the written authority must be from the applicant or applicant’s assignee or from the attorney or agent of either, or upon a showing that the person seeking such information is a bona fide prospective or actual purchaser, mortgagee, or licensee of such application. See pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.12.

If the application on which a patent was granted is a division, continuation, or continuation-in-part of an earlier application, the assignment records of that earlier application will be open to public inspection because copies or access may be supplied to the earlier application pursuant to 37 CFR 1.14.

Assignment records relating to reissue applications are open to public inspection because reissue applications are open to public inspection pursuant to 37 CFR 1.11(b).

Requests for abstracts of title for assignments of patents recorded after May 1, 1957, are provided by the Certification Division upon request and payment of fee required in 37 CFR 1.19. Requests for copies of pre-1957 records for patents should be directed to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Since these records are maintained by NARA, it is more expeditious to request copies directly from NARA, rather than from the Office, which would then have to route the requests to NARA. Payment of the fees required by NARA should accompany all requests for copies.

All assignment records from 1837 to April 30, 1957 for patents are now maintained and are open for public inspection in the National Archives Research Room located at the Washington National Records Center Building, 4205 Suitland Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746. Assignment documents recorded before 1837 are maintained at the Civilian Records Division of the National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.