Department of Commerce Introduces New E-Commerce Initiative

Press Release

Richard Maulsby
Moorie Goodman, Pat Woodward

First Patent Application Filed Using the Internet

The Department of Commerce has announced that the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) unveiled the Electronic Filing System (EFS) pilot program, the second phase of the USPTO's evolving electronic filing system with the recent filing of the first new patent application over the Internet.

The EFS pilot eliminates the cost and delay of physically handling, processing and delivering patent applications. This service also offers USPTO's customers automated assistance in preparing their transmittal information and provides real time acknowledgment of submissions.

"The Department of Commerce is using the Web to entirely change the way we interact with our customers. What eBay has done for auctions, we are trying to do for government," U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley said. "The EFS pilot moves Commerce another step closer to going from a paper-based bureaucracy to an all-digital department by the year 2002."

Unlike trademark applications, patent applications are confidential, presenting the USPTO a special challenge. EFS Pilot uses an electronic Packaging and Validation Engine (ePAVE,) developed by the agency to provide its customers with a means to enter transmittal and fee information, bundle it with the application's Declaration and Specification, compress the package, and transmit it to the agency. To address the confidentially and integrity of the information as it is being transmitted over the Internet, ePAVE leverages the USPTO's recently deployed Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) software to digitally sign and encrypt the information.

"Our customers file applications for much of the world's most sophisticated advertising and technology and they expect state-of-the-art service from the agency," said Q. Todd Dickinson, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks."

EFS pilot is restricted to a small group of participants and to new patent applications for inventions of limited complexity. EFS Pilot follows EFS BIO which inaugurated the USPTO's Electronic Filing System in late September with the filing of a gene sequence listing for a pending biotechnology application. USPTO patent customers can also track the status of their patent applications without compromising confidentiality or security using the USPTO's Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. In 2000, the USPTO plans to expand EFS Pilot.

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