Doors Open to Electronic Patent Filing

Press Release

Brigid Quinn
Maria Hernandez

USPTO will accept patent applications for inventions over the Internet

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initiated full production of its electronic patent application filing system (EFS). Now, anyone can file an application for a new invention with USPTO using the Internet. Previously, a select group of filers participated in a pilot project. The agency has set up an electronic business center (EBC) on its web site, in support of EFS (, to provide customers with software to write and file applications using the Internet. EFS software assembles all application components, calculates fees, validates application content, and compresses, encrypts and transmits the filing to USPTO.

Patent applications are confidential by statute. Thus, the agency also offers filers a customer number and digital certificate to sign the application and uses a digital certificate to ensure that EFS transmissions are encrypted from the applicant's PC all the way to USPTOÂ's electronic mailroom. The agency uses the latest public key infrastructure (PKI) technology to guarantee the security of electronic applications.

"EFS saves time and offers the convenience of Internet filing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,Â" noted Q. Todd Dickinson, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "Other pluses are real-time filing acknowledgements and immediate assignment of serial numbers to track applications. This exciting initiative is another example of the Clinton/Gore Administration's commitment to electronic government."

EFS has a built-in validation function to help applicants adhere to USPTO rules and avoid mistakes of form that can cause delays. EFS is a major step toward fully automating and improving the quality of patent application processing.

USPTO, a user fee-funded agency of the United States, within the Department of Commerce, administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks. The Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office advises the Secretary of Commerce and other federal departments and agencies on intellectual property policy matters. Over 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790 and 2.3 million trademarks have been registered since the first in 1870. Last year USPTO issued 161,000 patents and registered 104,000 trademarks.

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