(a) A request for records of the Department which are not customarily made available to the public as part of the Department's regular informational services must be in writing (and may be sent by mail, facsimile, or E-mail), and shall be processed under the FOIA, regardless whether the FOIA is mentioned in the request. Requests should be mailed to the Department component identified in Appendix A to this part that maintains those records, or may be sent by facsimile or E-mail to the numbers or addresses, respectively, listed at the Department's "FOIA Home Page" link found at the Department's World Wide Web site (http://www.doc.gov). 1 If the proper component cannot be determined, the request should be sent to the central facility identified in Appendix A to this part. The central facility will forward the request to the component(s) it believes most likely to have the requested records. For the quickest handling, the request (and envelope, if the request is mailed) should be marked "Freedom of Information Act Request."
(b) For requests for records about oneself, Sec. 4.24 contains additional requirements. For requests for records about another individual, either a written authorization signed by the individual permitting disclosure of his or her records to the requester or proof that the individual is deceased (for example, a copy of a death certificate or an obituary) facilitates processing the request.
(c)The records requested must be described in enough detail to enable Department personnel to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. If possible, a request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record, and the name and location of the office where the record is located. Also, if records about a court case are sought, the title of the case, the court in which the case was filed, and he nature of the case should be included. If known, any file designations or descriptions of the requested records should be included. In ageneral, the more specifically the request describes the records sought, the greater the likelihood that the Department will be able to locate those recors. If a component determines that a request does not reasonably describe records, it shall inform the requester what additional informaton is needed or how the request is otherwise insufficient, to enable the requester to modify the request to meet the requirements of this section.
(1.) The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which is established as an agency of the United States within the Department of Commerce, operates under its own FOIA regulations at 37 CFR part 102, subpart A. Accordingly, requests for USPTO records should be sent directly to the USPTO.