MPEP 502
Depositing Correspondence

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

Previous: §501 | Next: §502.01

502    Depositing Correspondence [R-07.2015]

37 C.F.R. 1.5 Identification of patent, patent application, or patent-related proceeding.

  • (a) No correspondence relating to an application should be filed prior to receipt of the assigned application number (i.e., U.S. application number, international application number, or international registration number as appropriate). When correspondence directed to the Patent and Trademark Office concerns a previously filed application for a patent, it must identify on the top page in a conspicuous location, the application number (consisting of the series code and the serial number; e.g., 07/123,456), or the serial number and filing date assigned to that application by the Patent and Trademark Office, or the international application number of the international application, or the international registration number of an international design application. Any correspondence not containing such identification will be returned to the sender where a return address is available. The returned correspondence will be accompanied with a cover letter which will indicate to the sender that if the returned correspondence is resubmitted to the Patent and Trademark Office within two weeks of the mail date on the cover letter, the original date of receipt of the correspondence will be considered by the Patent and Trademark Office as the date of receipt of the correspondence. Applicants may use either the Certificate of Mailing or Transmission procedure under § 1.8 or the Priority Mail Express® procedure under § 1.10 for resubmissions of returned correspondence if they desire to have the benefit of the date of deposit in the United States Postal Service. If the returned correspondence is not resubmitted within the two-week period, the date of receipt of the resubmission will be considered to be the date of receipt of the correspondence. The two-week period to resubmit the returned correspondence will not be extended. In addition to the application number, all correspondence directed to the Patent and Trademark Office concerning applications for patent should also state the name of the first listed inventor, the title of the invention, the date of filing the same, and if known, the group art unit or other unit within the Patent and Trademark Office responsible for considering the correspondence and the name of the examiner or other person to which it has been assigned.
  • (b) When the letter concerns a patent other than for purposes of paying a maintenance fee, it should state the number and date of issue of the patent, the name of the patentee, and the title of the invention. For letters concerning payment of a maintenance fee in a patent, see the provisions of § 1.366(c).
  • (c) Correspondence relating to a trial proceeding before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (part 42 of this title) are governed by § 42.6 of this title.
  • (d) A letter relating to a reexamination or supplemental examination proceeding should identify it as such by the number of the patent undergoing reexamination or supplemental examination, the request control number assigned to such proceeding, and, if known, the group art unit and name of the examiner to which it been assigned.
  • (e) [Reserved]
  • (f) When a paper concerns a provisional application, it should identify the application as such and include the application number.

37 C.F.R. 1.6 Receipt of correspondence.

  • (a) Date of receipt and Priority Mail Express® date of deposit. Correspondence received in the Patent and Trademark Office is stamped with the date of receipt except as follows:
    • (1) The Patent and Trademark Office is not open for the filing of correspondence on any day that is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia. Except for correspondence transmitted by facsimile under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, or filed electronically under paragraph (a)(4) of this section, no correspondence is received in the Office on Saturdays, Sundays, or Federal holidays within the District of Columbia.
    • (2) Correspondence filed in accordance with § 1.10 will be stamped with the date of deposit as Priority Mail Express® with the United States Postal Service.
    • (3) Correspondence transmitted by facsimile to the Patent and Trademark Office will be stamped with the date on which the complete transmission is received in the Patent and Trademark Office unless that date is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, in which case the date stamped will be the next succeeding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia.
    • (4) Correspondence may be submitted using the Office electronic filing system only in accordance with the Office electronic filing system requirements. Correspondence submitted to the Office by way of the Office electronic filing system will be accorded a receipt date, which is the date the correspondence is received at the correspondence address for the Office set forth in § 1.1 when it was officially submitted.
  • (b) [Reserved]
  • (c) Correspondence delivered by hand. In addition to being mailed, correspondence may be delivered by hand during hours the Office is open to receive correspondence.
  • (d) Facsimile transmission. Except in the cases enumerated below, correspondence, including authorizations to charge a deposit account, may be transmitted by facsimile. The receipt date accorded to the correspondence will be the date on which the complete transmission is received in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, unless that date is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia. See paragraph (a)(3) of this section. To facilitate proper processing, each transmission session should be limited to correspondence to be filed in a single application or other proceeding before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application number of a patent application, the control number of a reexamination or supplemental examination proceeding, the interference number of an interference proceeding, the trial number of a trial proceeding before the Board, or the patent number of a patent should be entered as a part of the sender's identification on a facsimile cover sheet. Facsimile transmissions are not permitted and, if submitted, will not be accorded a date of receipt in the following situations:
    • (1) Correspondence as specified in § 1.4(e), requiring an original signature;
    • (2) Certified documents as specified in § 1.4(f);
    • (3) Correspondence that cannot receive the benefit of the certificate of mailing or transmission as specified in § 1.8(a)(2)(i)(A) through (D),(F), (I), and (K), and § 1.8(a)(2)(iii)(A), except that a continued prosecution application under § 1.53(d) may be transmitted to the Office by facsimile;
    • (4) Color drawings submitted under §§ 1.81,1.83 through 1.85, 1.152, 1.165, 1.173, 1.437, or 1.1026;
    • (5) A request for reexamination under § 1.510 or § 1.913, or a request for supplemental examination under § 1.610;
    • (6) Correspondence to be filed in an application subject to a secrecy order under §§ 5.1 through 5.5 of this chapter and directly related to the secrecy order content of the application;
    • (7) In contested cases and trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, except as the Board may expressly authorize.
  • (e) [Reserved]
  • (f) Facsimile transmission of a patent application under § 1.53(d). In the event that the Office has no evidence of receipt of an application under § 1.53(d) (a continued prosecution application) transmitted to the Office by facsimile transmission, the party who transmitted the application under § 1.53(d) may petition the Director to accord the application under § 1.53(d) a filing date as of the date the application under § 1.53(d) is shown to have been transmitted to and received in the Office,
    • (1) Provided that the party who transmitted such application under § 1.53(d):
      • (i) Informs the Office of the previous transmission of the application under § 1.53(d) promptly after becoming aware that the Office has no evidence of receipt of the application under § 1.53(d);
      • (ii) Supplies an additional copy of the previously transmitted application under § 1.53(d); and
      • (iii) Includes a statement which attests on a personal knowledge basis or to the satisfaction of the Director to the previous transmission of the application under § 1.53(d) and is accompanied by a copy of the sending unit’s report confirming transmission of the application under § 1.53(d) or evidence that came into being after the complete transmission and within one business day of the complete transmission of the application under § 1.53(d).
    • (2) The Office may require additional evidence to determine if the application under § 1.53(d) was transmitted to and received in the Office on the date in question.
  • (g) Submission of the national stage correspondence required by § 1.495 via the Office electronic filing system. In the event that the Office has no evidence of receipt of the national stage correspondence required by § 1.495, which was submitted to the Office by the Office electronic filing system, the party who submitted the correspondence may petition the Director to accord the national stage correspondence a receipt date as of the date the correspondence is shown to have been officially submitted to the Office.
    • (1) The petition of this paragraph (g) requires that the party who submitted such national stage correspondence:
      • (i) Informs the Office of the previous submission of the correspondence promptly after becoming aware that the Office has no evidence of receipt of the correspondence under § 1.495;
      • (ii) Supplies an additional copy of the previously submitted correspondence;
      • (iii) Includes a statement that attests on a personal knowledge basis, or to the satisfaction of the Director, that the correspondence was previously officially submitted; and
      • (iv) Supplies a copy of an acknowledgment receipt generated by the Office electronic filing system, or equivalent evidence, confirming the submission to support the statement of paragraph (g)(1)(iii) of this section.
    • (2) The Office may require additional evidence to determine if the national stage correspondence was submitted to the Office on the date in question.

All applications (provisional and nonprovisional) may be sent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by mail using the United States Postal Service (see MPEP § 501), or they may be hand-carried to the Customer Service Window. However, applicants should consider filing new patent applications (as well as patent-related correspondence) via the Office electronic filing system (EFS-Web) whenever permitted. See the EFS-Web Guidance and Resources page of the USPTO website (www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/ applying-online/efs-web-guidance-and-resources ) for additional information. See also MPEP § 502.05. New applications cannot be transmitted by facsimile and are not entitled to the benefit of a Certificate of Transmission under 37 CFR 1.8. A request for a continued prosecution application (CPA) filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d) (available only for design applications) may be transmitted to the Office by facsimile (37 CFR 1.6(d)(3) ); however, it is not entitled to the benefit of a Certificate of Transmission (see 37 CFR 1.8(a)(2)(i)(A) ). See 37 CFR 1.6(d) and MPEP § 502.01.

See 37 CFR 2.190 and MPEP § 501 for addresses pertaining to trademark correspondence.

All correspondence related to a national patent application already filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must include the identification of the application number or the serial number and the filing date assigned to the application by the Office. Any correspondence not containing the proper identification set forth in 37 CFR 1.5(a) will be returned to the sender by the Office of Patent Application Processing (OPAP). Each paper should be inspected to assure that the papers being returned contain either an "Office Date" stamp indicating the date of receipt. If there is a minor obvious error in the identification of the application such that the Office readily recognizes both the existence of the error and the appropriate correction, the error can be corrected by the Office. The Office often experiences difficulty in matching incoming papers with the application file to which they pertain because insufficient or erroneous information is given. This applies especially to amendments, powers of attorney, changes of address, status letters, petitions for extension of time, and other petitions.

It would be of great assistance to the Office if all incoming papers pertaining to a filed application carried the following items:

  • (A) Application number (checked for accuracy, including series code and serial no.).
  • (B) Art Unit number (copied from most recent Office communication).
  • (C) Filing date.
  • (D) Name of the examiner who prepared the most recent Office action.
  • (E) Title of invention.
  • (F) Confirmation number (see MPEP § 503).

Applicants may be reminded of this by including form paragraph 5.01.

¶ 5.01    Proper Heading for Incoming Papers

It would be of great assistance to the Office if all incoming papers pertaining to a filed application carried the following items:

1. Application number (checked for accuracy, including series code and serial no.).

2. Art Unit number (copied from most recent Office communication).

3. Filing date.

4. Name of the examiner who prepared the most recent Office action.

5. Title of invention.

6. Confirmation number (seeMPEP § 503).

The Office prefers identifying indicia to be provided on the drawings. If such identifying indicia is provided, it must be placed on the front of each sheet of drawings within the top margin. See 37 CFR 1.84(c). The identifying indicia should include the title of the invention, inventor’s name, application number, and confirmation number (see MPEP § 503). If the Office has not yet assigned an application number and confirmation number to the application, the docket number (if any) used by the applicant to track the application should be provided.

When the Office receives replacement sheets of drawings for patent applications after the application has been filed, a cover letter identifying the drawings by application number should accompany them. The application number and other identifying indicia should be placed on each sheet of drawings in accordance with 37 CFR 1.84(c). Each drawing sheet submitted after the filing date of the application must be identified as either "Replacement Sheet" or "New Sheet" pursuant to 37 CFR 1.121(d).

It is requested that the submission of additional or supplemental papers on a newly filed application be deferred until an application number has been received.

Documents which have no particular time or order of submission requirements should be filed in the Office with materials submitted in reply to the statutory or regulatory requirements. Examples are certified copies of foreign documents to support priority in patent applications, changes of power of attorney, or changes in mailing address following first action.

All letters relating to a reexamination proceeding should identify the proceeding involved by patent number and reexamination request control number.

All letters relating to a supplemental examination proceeding should identify the proceeding involved by patent number and supplemental examination request control number.

I.    PRIORITY MAIL EXPRESS® (FORMERLY "EXPRESS MAIL") SERVICE

Effective July 28, 2013, the United States Postal Service (USPS) changed the name of "Express Mail" to Priority Mail Express®. All characteristics of the Priority Mail Express® service are the same as those of the former "Express Mail" service (although the mailing labels differ).

The addresses that should be used for Priority Mail Express® sent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are set forth in 37 CFR 1.1 (see MPEP § 501).

The Office does not have resources for picking up any mail. Therefore mail should NOT be sent using the "Hold for Pickup" service option (whereby the mail is retained at the destination postal facility for retrieval by the addressee). Mail sent using the "Hold for pickup" service will not reach the Office.

See MPEP § 513 for the use of the Priority Mail Express® mailing procedures of 37 CFR 1.10.

II.    POST ALLOWANCE CORRESPONDENCE

All post allowance correspondence, except for petitions under 37 CFR 1.313(c), should be addressed "Mail Stop Issue Fee." Any petition filed under 37 CFR 1.313(c) to withdraw an application from issue after payment of the issue fee should be clearly marked "Petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c) " and be either filed as a Web-based ePetition (see www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/applying- online/epetition-resource-page ), hand-carried to the Office of Petitions or submitted by facsimile to the Office of Petitions at (571) 273-0025. See MPEP § 1308, subsection I.B. All other types of petitions, if transmitted by facsimile transmission to the Office, must be directed to the central facsimile number ((571) 273-8300).

Any paper filed after receiving the Issue notification should include the indicated patent number.

Since an allowed application may be issued as a patent within about four weeks of payment of the issue fee, all post allowance correspondence should be filed prior to the date of issue fee payment to ensure the papers reach the appropriate USPTO official for consideration before the date the application issues as a patent. See MPEP § 2732 for a discussion of the patent term adjustment impact of submitting amendments or other papers after a notice of allowance has been mailed.

If the above suggestions are adopted, the processing of both new and allowed applications could proceed more efficiently and promptly through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

III.    HAND-DELIVERY OF PAPERS

No official paper which relates to a pending application may be personally delivered to a TC except papers that are directed to an application subject to a secrecy order pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 181, or are national security classified and that are directed to Licensing and Review. All official patent application related correspondence for organizations reporting to the Commissioner for Patents (e.g., TCs, the Office of Data Management, and the Office of Petitions) that is hand-carried (or delivered by other delivery services) must be delivered to the Customer Service Window, with a few exceptions.

  Correspondence for Which Centralized Delivery of Hand-Carried Papers Is Not Required

The following types of patent application related correspondence may be delivered to the specific location where they are processed instead of the Customer Service Window. Before hand-carrying papers to a specific location or a particular office within the USPTO, the office should be called to obtain its current location. Applicants should check the USPTO website for the current telephone number. Any such correspondence carried to the Customer Service Window will be accepted and routed to the appropriate office, thereby incurring a delay before being processed. Correspondence which is not related to a specific patent or patent application, such as questions on policy, on employment, or other general inquiry may be hand-carried to the current designated locations depending on the substance of the correspondence.

  • (A) Access Requests - Requests for access to patent application files may be hand-carried to the File Information Unit (FIU) on the 3rd floor of Randolph Square, 2800 South Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22206. Requests for access to patent application files that are maintained in the Image File Wrapper system and that have not yet been published may be hand-carried to the Public Search Facility on the 1st floor of the Madison East Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.
  • (B) Patent Term Extensions under 35 U.S.C. 156 - Applications for patent term extension under 35 U.S.C. 156 may be hand-carried to the Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA) in the Madison West Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Madison West, the security guard should call OPLA at (571) 272-7701 or (571) 272-7746 for delivery assistance.
  • (C) Assignments to be Recorded - Assignments may be hand-carried to the Office of Public Records Customer Service Window Randolph Square, 3rd floor, 2800 South Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22206.
  • (D) Office of General Counsel - Correspondence for the Office of General Counsel may be hand-carried to the Office of General Counsel in Room 10C20 of the Madison East Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Madison East, the security guard should call the Office of General Counsel at (571) 272-7000 for delivery assistance.
  • (E) Solicitor’s Office - Correspondence for the Solicitor’s Office may be hand-carried to the Solicitor’s Office in Room 8C43-A of the Madison West Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Madison West, the security guard should call the Solicitor’s Office at (571) 272-9035 for delivery assistance.
  • (F) Interference and Trial Related Correspondence - Correspondence relating to interferences may be hand-carried to the 1st floor lobby of Madison East Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, where a drop-off box for hand-carried documents to be filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) is located. Customers need to pass through the magnetometer and have the materials passed through the x-ray sensor before placing them in the drop-off box. The drop-off box is for interference related correspondence only. Boxes are not permitted in the drop-off box. Box materials should be hand-carried to Madison East, Room 9B55-A using the following procedures. At the guard station in Madison East, the security guard should call the Board at (571) 272-9797 to obtain authorization to allow entry into the building for delivery to Room 9B55-A. Access to Room 9B55-A is available from 8:30 am to 4:45 pm only. Documents/boxes hand-carried to the drop-off box or to Room 9B55-A after 4:45 pm will receive the next day’s filing date. Customers desiring a stamped return receipt for their filing need to personally bring their filing and postcard to Room 9B55-A during the hours stated above, or leave the postcard with the filing (postcard must include correct postage mail stamp and the address where the postcard is to be mailed). The Board will stamp the filing date and mail the postcard to the customer. Correspondence related to contested cases may only be hand-carried as authorized by the Board.
  • (G) Secrecy Order - Applications subject to a secrecy order pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 181, or that are national security classified, and correspondence related thereto, may be hand-carried to Licensing and Review in Room 4B31 of the Knox Building, 501 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Knox, the security guard should call Licensing and Review at (571) 272-8203 for delivery assistance.
  • (H) Expedited Foreign Filing License Petitions - Petitions for foreign filing license pursuant to 37 CFR 5.12(b) for which expedited handling is requested and petitions for retroactive license under 37 CFR 5.25 may be hand-carried to a drop-off box located at the guard station at the lobby of the Knox Building, 501 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Upon approaching the guard station, the delivery personnel should state their desire to drop off the request. Correspondence packages will be inspected/scanned before being placed in the drop-off box. All requests should identify a fax number, telephone number and mailing address. All responses to the request will be sent by fax, followed by a mailed copy. If a fax number is not available, a hardcopy will be mailed to the mailing address provided.
  • (I) Petitions to Withdraw from Issue - Petitions to withdraw from issue may be hand-carried to the Office of Petitions on the 7th floor of the Madison West Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Madison West, the security guard should call the Office of Petitions at (571) 272-3282 for delivery assistance. Hand-carried papers will be accepted between the hours of 8:30 am to 3:45 pm.
  • (J) Documents Requested by the Office of Data Management - Documents requested by the Office of Data Management may be hand-carried to the Office of Data Management, Randolph Square, 9th floor, 2800 South Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22206, during business hours.
  • (K) Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) – Correspondence for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline may be hand-carried to the receptionist at Room 8C43-B of the Madison West Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. At the guard station in Madison West, the security guard should call the Office of Enrollment and Discipline at 571-272-4097 for delivery assistance.
  • (L) Office of Finance – Refund requests, deposit account replenishments, and maintenance fee payments may be hand-carried to the Office of Finance receptionist in Suite 300 of the Carlyle Place Building, 2051 Jamieson Ave., Alexandria, VA 22314. Hand-carried correspondence will only be accepted, and not processed. Although the receptionist will not process any correspondence, if the correspondence is delivered with an itemized postcard, the receptionist will provide a delivery receipt by date stamping the postcard. Depending on whether the correspondence is a refund request, deposit account related (e.g., a deposit account replenishment), or maintenance fee related (e.g., a maintenance fee payment), the correspondence should be placed in an envelope with REFUND, DEPOSIT ACCOUNT, or MAINTENANCE FEE written in dark ink across the envelope.
  • (M) Office of Public Records – Requests for certified copies of Office records including patent and trademark copies, applications-as-filed, file wrappers and contents, and assignment records may be hand-carried to the Office of Public Records’ Customer Service Window on the 3rd floor of Randolph Square, 2800 South Randolph Street, Arlington, VA 22206, during business hours.