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I believe there are some academics who are lying about their conflicts of interest that they were required to disclose, and that they may have applied for patents that did not even make it to the stage of being published as a "Patent Application."

Does the USPTO keep copies of correspondence, and is it obtainable through a Freedom of Information Act request?

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Generally the contents of unpublished abandoned applications are not available to the public unless the application is later referenced in one that is published, or in an SIR or otherwise relied upon. 37 CFR 1.14. However, anyone may still petition the USPTO for access under limited circumstances, such as conformity with an Act of Congress or other special circumstances. It is NOT a FOIA request. It is a petition with the necessary fees and justification.

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FOIA requests can be made for anything but they may not grant your request if the application was never published.

Try searching for the academics names if you know them in:

http://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/checking-application-status/check-filing-status-your-patent-application

  • FOIA requests cannot be "made for anything" if the subject matter falls under other administrative regulations that specifically take the information out of the public's access. An unpublished and abandoned patent application may, for instance, contain trade secrets that shall remain confidential, subject to petition to the Commissioner on the proper form with the proper fee and justification. – Upnorth Jul 28 '17 at 21:03

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