20 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions from Customers
Questions Associated with becoming a Registered e-filing User
1. How does a customer become a registered e-filer and gain access to Private PAIR?
Becoming a registered e-filer is a two step process. The first step is to request a customer number by filling out the Customer Number Request Form located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0125.pdf. Either fax the Customer Number Request Form to the EBC at 571-273-0177 or return it by mail. The EBC will process your customer number request within three business days. After the customer number is received, the next step is to fill out, notarize, and mail in the Certificate Action Form. The Certificate Action form can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/ebc/documents/certificateactionform.pdf. The PKI digital certificate is a small computer file that functions as a “digital identity” for a given user. Once the EBC receives the Certificate Action Form, the Authorization Code will be emailed within five business days. When the Authorization Code is received you may call the EBC directly and request the Reference Number. These two codes together allow you to create your digital certificate file from our Digital Certificate Management site at https://dcm.uspto.gov/UserRegistration/do/Home. This file will grant you access to Private PAIR and EFS-Web as a registered e-filer.
Practitioners are reminded that they must also notify the OED of any changes to their contact information within 30 days of the date of the change. See 37 C.F.R. § 11.11(a). More information is available at: http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/index.jsp.
2. How can Applications be associated with a Customer Number?
To associate existing patent applications to a Customer Number, you must complete and submit the Customer Number Upload Spreadsheet located at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/register.jsp. This information can also be sent on a CD or USB memory stick to the address listed below if many applications need to be associated. Another method to associate an application to a customer number is to submit the Change of Correspondence Address form (SB/122) located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0122_fill.pdf. Unlike the Customer Number Upload Spreadsheet where multiple applications/patents can be listed, the Change of Correspondence Address form can be used to only associate a single application to a customer number. Only the customer number should be indicated on the SB/122 form with physical address left blank. Customer number associations using the SB/122 form are only processed by the Applications Assistants Unit or a Technology Center. The EBC processes the automated Upload Spreadsheet.
Mail Stop EBC Customer Number
Commissioner for Patents
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
To associate a PCT application in the International phase with a Customer Number for purposes of viewing the PCT application in Private PAIR, please download and complete the Request to Update a PCT Application with a Customer Number form at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/register.jsp and mail or fax it to the EBC at 571-273-0177.
3. How can Customer Number data be corrected?
Customer Number data may either be corrected electronically in Private PAIR or by submitting the USPTO 124A Customer Number Data Change form located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0124-fill.pdf. You may mail the form or fax it to 571-273-0177. To use Private PAIR you must be a registered user. Once Private PAIR is accessed go to the "Search by Customer Number” section and then select “View Customer Number Details.” Select the customer number from the drop down box and click search. Select the ‘Request Customer Data Change(s)’ button near the bottom of the web page to enter the Edit Customer Details screen. Preview changes and transmit your request to the USPTO.
Adding or deleting a customer number that is associated with registration number will automatically add or delete the association between the PKI digital certificate assigned to the registration number and that customer number.
4. How can a Digital Certificate be created for new users?
A Digital Certificate is created by the customer using two pieces of information from the USPTO. One is an Authorization Code and the other is a Reference Number. Each piece of information will be sent to you separately upon submitting a Certificate Action Form to the EBC. Once you receive the Authorization Code you may call the EBC to obtain the Reference Number if you have not already received it. Once you have both the Authorization Code and Reference Number go to https://dcm.uspto.gov/UserRegistration/do/Home and follow these steps:
1. Click "New User", enter the Authorization Code and the Reference Number where requested.
2. Click the “browse” button next to "digital certificate filename".
3. When a dialog box appears, select the folder where you want the file to be saved at (somewhere you can locate the file easily, such as your desktop), then in the "filename" box, name your file (i.e. johndoe.epf) *making sure to leave the .EPF at the end of the file name, and then click "open".
4. Enter the password that you wish to use twice following rules located in the box on the right side of the screen (when all rules are successfully followed green check marks will appear), then click "Submit".
5. Once your password has been processed it will state "profile created successfully". Your Digital Certificate file will be downloaded to the directory that you previously specified and saved under the file name previously designed.
Once a Digital Certificate is created the EBC recommends that recovery codes be created. Please refer to the question on generating recovery codes in this section
5. How are Self Recovery Codes established for my Digital Certificate?
Once you have created your Digital Certificate you can go to the https://dcm.uspto.gov/UserRegistration/do/Home and select “Register for Recovery Codes.” If you just created a Digital Certificate, you will be presented with options asking you what you would like to do now. One of the options displayed will be to register for the self recovery codes. You will be brought to an Authentication page to log into the system. Once you authenticate into the system the site will ask you for an email address. This email address is important because you will be requested to enter it in whenever you attempt to recover your digital certificate with a self-recovery code. Along with the requested email address, the site will also request a password. This password will be the same as your digital certificate’s password. Once you complete this step you will see a list from A to G of codes. You will have the option to print and save this page, which you should do one or both options because you cannot retrieve this page after exiting your web browser.
6. What if my Digital Certificate stops working?
If a Digital Certificate stops working you can recover online if you previously created recovery codes or by calling the EBC. If you have not previously created recovery codes you will need to contact the EBC to perform the recovery. Recovery through the EBC will take up to seven business days.
To “Recover with Self-Recovery Codes” you should go to https://dcm.uspto.gov/UserRegistration/do/Home and follow these steps:
1. Click the "Recovery with Self-Recovery Codes" link
2. If you see a Security Dialog box choose “Run” to continue.
3. Enter your Registered email address and click Submit. This is the email address you previously entered when you registered for the recovery codes.
4. Enter your Self Recovery code where requested, and then click Submit.
5. Click the Save as Button to choose a file location on your work station where you want the profile to be saved at (somewhere you can locate the file easily, such as your desktop), then in the "filename" box, name your file (i.e. johndoe.epf) *making sure to leave the .EPF at the end of the file name, and then click "open".
5. A new window will appear if you choose an existing location and filename. If you wish to delete the existing file select OK, otherwise click Cancel and choose a new location and filename.
Enter and confirm a password and click on the “Recover Profile” button.
You will now see the Digital Certificate Recovery progress page. When the processing is complete a screen will appear indicating that your digital certificate has been recovered and saved based on the path and location that you have just provided.
7. How do you manage a Digital Certificate (EPF) file on multiple computers or in multiple locations on the same computer?
The PKI digital certificate provide by the USPTO may be stored on multiple computers or in multiple locations within the same computer by saving a copy of the “.EPF” file to a disk or CD and transferring it over to the desired computer(s) or by copying the file to other locations on the same computer. This can also be achieved by emailing the file as an attachment and then receiving the file on a different computer.
The certificate expires 27 months after it was originally issued or recovered. If you use the digital certificate during the last 100 days of this time period, the certificate will be updated automatically. Once updated, the certificate will be renewed for another 27 months. This renewal process continues indefinitely. If the certificate is not used by the customer during that 100-day period, it will expire and the customer must use either self recovery or must have an EBC-assisted recovery.
Only one copy of the digital certificate will be renewed through the automatic update process. Any other copy, on a customer’s alternate computer or disk drive, will not be renewed and will need to be replaced. In order for the automatic renewal process to work, the .EPF file should be stored in a location with write permission.
8. How can the Digital Certificate (EPF) file be located on your system?
If you can not locate your file a search will need to be completed on your system for a file with the extension .EPF If the folder for the file is know, the search can be limited to that particular folder.
If the system being used has a Vista operating system, the file can be located in the Virtual File Folder. When Internet Explorer Version 7 in Vista is running in protected mode, it creates a virtualized copy of the file system. All stored files are saved into this virtualized file system instead of the actual directory. The .EPF file is only saved to this location when creating/recovering a profile while IE 7 is in protected mode. To access this directory manually type the path in the address bar of Windows Explorer. From there, you can move the .EPF file to the real Desktop directory, where it will be visible. Microsoft has documented this issue: <http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/02/09/528963.aspx>. The link to the directions on how to disable the protected mode in Internet Explorer Version 7 when you are recovering your digital certificate is http://support.cox.com/sdccommon/asp/contentredirect.asp?sprt_cid=16e82d07-5916-4c09-b682-4390a7094c0c.
Questions Associated with Filing Using EFS-Web
9. How can a Non-embedded Font error be fixed?
To fix a “Non-embedded Fonts” error message, you should ensure that all fonts are embedded with creating your PDF file. If you have Adobe Acrobat, you can utilize the Adobe JobOptions file with instructions located at http://www.uspto.gov/ebc/portal/efs/joboptions.pdf
If it is not possible to embed fonts (e.g., original fonts are not available), you can create an image PDF using the following steps:
1. Open the PDF file
2. Choose File > Print
3. Select the PDF in the Printer Name drop-down menu
4. Click on the Advanced tab (the location may differ for different PDF writers).
5. Select Print as Image and 300dpi
6. Click OK to close the Advanced Print Setup dialog box and then click OK again
7. The Save PDF File dialog box should appear. Save a copy of the PDF with a new file name.
10. How can a File Naming Convention Error be fixed?
To correct file naming errors (EX: Filename.pdf), be sure to start your file name with [A thru Z, a thru z, or 0 thru 9] and make sure that file names do not use brackets or commas. Also do not start a file name with an underscore or hyphen. The last 4 characters of the file name must be lowercase .pdf (EX: .pdf, .txt or .zip). The file name can consist of any combination of characters selected from uppercase alphabet, lowercase alphabet and/or digits zero through nine: [A thru Z, a thru z, or 0 thru 9, _, -] Do not use brackets, commas, spaces or symbols; you can use an underscore or a hyphen within file name.
The length of file name is limited to a maximum of 100 characters including the required 4 character .pdf, .txt or .zip file extension. For more information please visit http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/guidance/infofiles.jsp
11. When a document is indexed in EFS-Web what are the differences between Category and Document descriptions?
When indexing a document through EFS-Web, the category is the overall grouping of document descriptions which identify the nature of the attached file and the document description is the description of the file being attached. The EFS-Web category is optional. The intended purpose is to help locate the appropriate document description quicker by filtering the list to those descriptions that are pertinent to the category name, i.e. Petition, Application Part, etc.
12. What can be done if an Acknowledgement Receipt is not received?
If you are a registered user (have both a customer number and PKI digital certificate) and you did not receive an acknowledgement receipt when filing an application through EFS-Web you should go to My Workplace within EFS-Web and access the document that you just submitted. The document may take up to three hours for the acknowledgement receipt to generate. If the receipt is still not available after that timeframe, the user should contact the EBC to confirm that the documents were received. Do not resubmit your application until you have confirmed that it was not received. Non-registered users must call into the EBC.
13. How do you Pay Patent Application Fees?
Fees may be paid by deposit account, credit card, or electronic funds transfer. Payment related information, such as form 2038, should not be included as part of the document(s) submitted as they will then be available for public viewing. After the documents are uploaded and validated, the Calculate Fees screen will appear... You will first need to indicate what fees are being paid, making sure that you click on the entity status at the top of the page. Then you should click “Calculate” and the system will total the amount of the selected fees.
Should EFS-Web be unavailable, a credit card payment can be submitted by fax by submitting a Fee Transmittal (SB/17) and the Credit Card Payment Form (PTO-2038). If the user is paying by deposit account, that account number should be indicated on the Fee Transmittal. No other document is required. Document(s) should be faxed to 571-273-8300 or alternatively mailed to the USPTO.
If the user is unregistered and wishes to pay separate to the filing, a Fee Transmittal (SB/17) and Credit Card Payment (PTO-2038) ) forms can be faxed to 571-273-8300 or mailed to the USPTO.
Please note that fax submission of the basic filing fee for 371 entry is not accepted.
Maintenance fees may be paid online through the link http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/maintain.jsp
14. What if the EFS-Web System is Unavailable and a Document or Payment needs to be submitted?
If the EFS-Web system becomes unavailable you may fax follow on documents and payment to the central fax at 571-273-8300 or mail to:
Commissioner for Patents
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
New applications cannot be faxed but can be mailed to this address, hand delivered to the USPTO walk-up window, or filed electronically using EFS-Web Contingency. When mailing you may use Express Mail from USPS in accordance with 37 CFR 1.10.
15. How do Misindexed Documents Get Corrected that Have Been Submitted through EFS-Web?
Documents that have been submitted to the USPTO through EFS-WEB with incorrect indexing may be corrected without customer involvement through normal USPTO quality assurance processes during a ten business day period after submission. Please wait to see if the indexing is corrected before contacting the EBC. If the documents are still without the correct indexing after ten days, please contact the EBC to identify the problem and request that the documents be reindexed.
16. How can duplicate/unwanted documents from my application be removed?
The Electronic Business Center is unable to remove unwanted documents from an application. Please contact the Petitions office to request assistance with petitioning to have the document removed from the Image File Wrapper. The Petitions office can be reached at 571-272-3282
Questions Associated with Using Private PAIR
17. What if the IFW tab is not available for application in PAIR?
The Image File Wrapper tab will not be available for applications filed prior to 6/30/2003. Users will still be able to view other information regarding the application. One may also order copies of any document from the Office of Public Records.
18. What if a Customer Number cannot be viewed in Private PAIR?
Customers that are unable to view a Customer Number in Private PAIR usually are unable to do so because of failure to complete the association process between the customer number and their digital certificate. Should this occur please either submit a Certificate Action Form, a data change using a USPTO 124A Customer Number Data Change form located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0124-fill.pdf to the EBC or have a practitioner who is currently associated with that customer number submit the request using Private PAIR.
19. Where can Patent forms be located?
20. How can the list of Attorney/ Agent listed for an application as having Power of Attorney be updated?
The Attorney/Agents listed under Address & Attorney/Agent tab in Private PAIR are currently the attorney/agents listed as having Power of Attorney for the case. If no attorneys or incorrect attorneys/agents are listed, a Power of Attorney form (SB/81) located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0081.pdf will need to be completed and submitted either through EFS-Web as a registered user, by fax to 571-273-8300 or by mail. If the address or Customer Number indicated for Correspondence Address is incorrect, a Change of Correspondence Address (SB/122) http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0122_fill.pdf will need to be completed and submitted either through EFS-Web as a registered user, by fax to 571-273-8300, or by mail.
Power of Attorney and Change of Correspondence Address are processed by either the Application Assistance Unit (AAU) or the Group Art Unit (GAU) assigned to the case. The AAU can be reached by phone at 571-272-4000 and the GAU number will depend on the GAU assigned to the case. The phone number for the GAU can be located at http://www.uspto.gov/about/contacts/phone_directory/index.jsp.