The Internet has afforded great access improvements in many database systems – perhaps few are as good as the improvements to patent information access relating to pending patent applications. With a few well directed keystrokes, you can now find out great detail about any patent application pending in the United States Patent Office. The system is called 'Public PAIR' or Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR).
Here you can enter an 'application number' or 'publication number' and click a single button to arrive at all the details of the case and every transaction in the file wrapper. Essentially, everything the patent office has on the case. Cool. A patent does not have to be granted, the office publishes records through PAIR for pending applications too. However, applications may be held private by request of the inventor and those applications are permitted to remain pending in private. You won't have access to those. It is an important part of planning to anticipate the possibility that an application is pending but is not available on the PAIR system.
You will find: 'Application Data'; 'Transaction History'; 'Image File Wrapper' with all documents in PDF for easy download, printing and review; 'Patent Term Adjustment' details; 'Continuity Data' for parent applications; 'Fees' history; 'Pulished Documents'; 'Addresses of the Attorney or Agent'; and 'Display References' of related patents. Good stuff for any serious patent researcher. This will answer most questions one might have about a patent application. It is free and it is easy. Something you don't find everyday in some parts of government.
If you have any questions about a pending patent application, don't hesitate to directly use the PAIR database interface to get details on a patent case.
Trademark documents can be similarly accessed via the TDR system. Search your trademark with the TESS system, and then get all the details on TDR. It is very fast and easy. You can even file for a new trademark on the TEAS system.