A reader asks:
What applications are accessible using PAIR? Only those that are filed electronically? I am attempting to look up information on an application we filed in October, 2000, and I cannot find it in PAIR. We associated our customer number with the application when it was filed.
The short answer to the question, which applications are accessible using PAIR, is applications which have your customer number associated with them. But this answer is too short and does not take full account of a number of oddities about how the Patent Office handles patent applications.
Are you really sure your customer number is associated with the file? For example, have you received a Filing Receipt which shows your customer number just above your mailing address? We have encountered several applications in which the Patent Office contractor who handled the patent application skipped right over the customer number bar code sticker and hand-typed our mailing address into PALM. The best way to avoid this error by Patent Office contractors (in the case of a paper filing) is to avoid putting any mailing address anywhere in the envelope when filing a patent application. This forces the contractor to use the bar-coded customer number.
An even better way to avoid this error by Patent Office contractors is to file electronically using EFS. Then if you get the customer number right, nobody at the Patent Office will disturb it.
Another area of delay arises if you enter the US national stage on paper rather than by means of EFS-Web. It can take many months for the national-stage serial number to show up in PAIR if you file on paper. The key is to file electronically.
Also, is there a way to use a wildcard in any of the search fields? Our docket numbers consist of a client number and a matter number. What we would like to do is search the docket number field in PAIR by typing in just the client number, and then use some sort of a wildcard so that all of the matters associated with the client will appear in the search results. The PTO seems to use % as a wildcard a majority of the time, however it does not work when used in the docket number search field. Any ideas? No, I talk to a lot of PAIR users, and none of us has been able to figure out a way to do wild-card searching in the PAIR search fields. You might consider using Partridge ( http://www.oppedahl.com/partridge ). It will extract the PAIR information and can do a lot of what you want.