Maria V. Hernandez
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is now equipped to electronically receive application data for certain biotechnology patent filings. This announcement follows the successful Internet filing, on September 29, 1999, of a gene sequence listing for a pending biotechnology application. That filing inaugurated EFS BIO, a component of PTO's evolving Electronic Filing System (EFS).
EFS BIO eliminates the cost and delay of physically handling, processing and delivering gene sequence listings. This service also offers customers automated assistance in preparing their transmittal information, and provides real time acknowledgment of submissions.
"Our customers are filing applications for some of the world's most sophisticated advertising and technology, and they expect state-of-the-art service from the agency," said Q. Todd Dickinson, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks. "Our trademark customers have been able to file and track their applications on the Internet for the past year. EFS BIO moves the PTO significantly closer to offering our patent customers full service e-commerce."
Unlike trademark applications, patent applications are confidential, presenting the PTO a special challenge. The PTO is using ePAVE, a computer application developed by the agency to provide its customers with a means to enter transmittal information, bundle it with the gene sequence listing, compress the package, and transmit it. To address the confidentially and integrity of the information as it is being transmitted over the Internet, ePAVE leverages PTO's recently deployed Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to digitally sign and encrypt the information.
PTO plans to expand the EFS BIO pilot and, using ePAVE, offer electronic filing of most patent applications in 2000. For more information on the Electronic Filing System and the other USPTO electronic business efforts, visit PTO's Electronic Business Center at http://pto-ebc.uspto.gov.
The PTO is the Commerce Department's user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks; advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark and copyright protection; and advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Nearly 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks.