The USPTO Finally Takes Steps Toward the 21st Century

The US Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) announces that it is in the process of modernizing electronic patent application filing to allow applicants to submit electronic patent applications in a text format. Prior to submission, we can (and should) expunge metadata from an appropriately formatted text file. We can also run an optional analytics report to ensure the abstract length is correct, generate an automated claims tree, and identify any errors in claims numbering. Based on information submitted in the Application Data Sheet (ADS), the USPTO will be able to generate maps that show relationships between patent applications, or patent family maps.

Hurray!!!!! It’s about time that this arbiter of high technology gets around to joining the 21st Century in terms of its patent filing requirements.

Up until the time when the new file format actually hits the eCommerce site, the requirement for online patent filing has been and continues to be .pdf only. Even that is a decided improvement over the BeforeTime; before .pdf, filing was done in this weird MS Word amalgam thing that ran only on Windows (I’m a Mac geek) and gave me so many problems that I generally filed on paper.

They’re also┬áreplacing their current fee collection system to (1) expand self-service capabilities and (2) further integrate financial information with the patent and trademark businesses. The fee collection system replacement effort is in the beginning stages, and while they are looking to other successful eCommerce sites for best practices, they believe that USPTO customers may have unique needs. In the next few months, they will reach out to practitioners to solicit user input.

Again, it’s about time.