Tough 1-2 punch from the PTO: Private PAIR can no longer be used to access file histories not associated with your customer number; Public PAIR doesn’t work.  On Friday, USPTO Chief Information Officer Jamie Holcombe provided a report to the PPAC but did not include this important practice change.

Note: Public file histories are also available via the USPTO’s Global Dossier:



27 thoughts on “PAIR UPDATES

  1. 8

    PAIR has become the rival of any third-world public utility. Every day you hope it will work for at least a little while.

  2. 7

    This makes prosecution on families that are not entirely at one firm very cumbersome. For example, for large portfolio transfers, POAs may only filed on active cases. However, claim strategies, of course, depend on the entire family.

  3. 6

    The USPTO responds:

    Thank you for contacting the Patent Electronic Business Center.

    The system has been experiencing known issues. Please click the F5 button 2x while in PAIR and you should gain access to the site. Let me know if this works. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    Thank You,”

    No better than thoughts and prayers.

    1. 6.1

      Do they want you to press the F5 key with your mouse?

      As I recall, twice on the pipe means the answer is no.

  4. 5

    This may have something to do with trademark users now having to log in via for any filings. Since that change, the login system has had serious problems, going down for an hour or two at a time (completely down or effectively down). I suspect the system cannot handle the traffic. Perhaps this change in PAIR functionality is an attempt to deal with this issue.

  5. 4

    I really don’t understand why access was restricted via Private PAIR, but not via Public PAIR (also, public PAIR appears to be working now…)

  6. 3

    Just another step in REDUCING public access to materials. Remember when you used to be able to toggle backward and forward between queries in PAIR? The PTO got rid of that about 12 years ago, making it tedious even to search between related file histories. Now this. You know, if they eliminate PAIR altogether, they’ll probably increase the likelihood of achieving whatever they’re hoping to achieve.

    Oh, wait, I’ve got it – this means they’ll now have resources to devote to making PTAB materials indexed and searchable. That must be what they’re aiming for, right?


          Thanks. I thought you meant something more permanent, such as it doesn’t work for getting the information that is no longer available via private PAIR.

    1. 2.2

      Public PAIR’s functionality is so spotty that it is entirely fair to describe it as “not working,” even if it does spottily and intermittently function. Even private PAIR is a mess, but public PAIR is a joke, wrapped in a mess, buried in a fiasco.


          Glad to hear that it works for someone, then. My experiences with public PAIR in the last two years have been maddening.

      1. 2.2.2

        Agreed. I used Private PAIR primarily to avoid captchas and the inevitable bottleneck that comes with Public PAIR (so many failed searches due to it being at capacity). One can only hope that the USPTO added additional servers and resources to Public PAIR.


          The United States does not have that kind of money.

          Maybe if we got rid of school lunches and welfare we could start to think about expenditures like that.

          /glibertarian @$$wipe off


            Your strawman and One-Bucketing are noted.

            As is your lack of control over your feelings and your compulsion to insert non-patent law rants into a patent law forum.

  7. 1

    This application files internet access change, coupled with a recent Director comment about increased PTO security, makes me wonder if [as I have questioned before] there has been undisclosed foreign government or foreign company hacking into unpublished application files [the economically vital 18 month competitive lead time between application filings and publication]? If not, they should provide that assurance.

    1. 1.1


      This is MOST LIKELY more than just a little bit too little and too late (given that Google and most likely any foreign entity have probably already crawled through any surreptitious or “public access” channels and have already obtained ALL the legacy materials that they could want (ongoing new filings may be a different matter).

      Also, the Patent Office cannot provide what they do not have (assurance to stop any such of the above from happening going forward).

      Maybe we should promote innovation in the computing arts to help out with such, eh?

      1. 1.1.1

        The kind of information systems security innovation needed is better use, especially by government agencies, of internet security experts whose computer tools are usually far more effectively maintained as trade secrets.


          whose computer tools are usually far more effectively maintained as trade secrets.

          Yay – and so much for WHY we have patents in the first place…

          Now the cheerleader (and oh, look, the anti-patentist Malcolm) want to promote trade secrets as “the best path.”

          pssst, Malcolm, it is NOT the “maximalists” that are not ‘getting it’ here.


            Because the best way to keep something encrypted is to publish the encryption protocol.

            Sure, Bildo. You run with that.


              Because the best way to keep something encrypted is to publish the encryption protocol.

              That has nothing to do with the conversation here, so please put away your strawman and come back to reality.

              You do realize why we have a patent system, right?
              You do realize that a patent directed to encryption (or any other type of computing innovation) serves the goals of the patent system, right?
              You do realize that advocating for trade secrets is expressly COUNTER to having a patent system, right?

              Or do you want to pretend that you do not know how to follow the logic of such simple bread crumbs?

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