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Updates on Modernizing the Electronic Patent Application Process
Guest Blog by Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld
Launched in 2015, the eCommerce Modernization (eMod) Project aims to improve the electronic application process for patent applicants by modernizing the USPTO’s filing and viewing systems. Our goals with eMod are to streamline and enhance our systems for an easier, faster, and improved user experience. An important milestone for eMod will be the upcoming replacement of EFS-Web and PAIR, called Patent Center, which we are implementing in phases.
Recent improvements leading up to the rollout of Patent Center have included modernizing our authentication process and implementing structured text functionalities. With Patent Center, additional users from the same firm will be able to have their own accounts and access shared information. Structured text allows applicants to more easily submit their documents in text-based documents, rather than having to create PDF documents. This streamlines the application and publication processes for the applicants, examiners, and the USPTO. We tested the capabilities of structured text within EFS-Web and PAIR with our eMod Text Pilot Program, implemented from August 2016 until September 2017. The pilot was successful and many improvements were made based on user feedback from applicants, which include independent inventors, law firms, and corporations. Structured text features are now available to all EFS-Web Registered and Private PAIR users, and include the ability for applicants to file structured text via EFS-Web, and access structured text submissions, structured text office actions, and XML downloads via Private PAIR. Additional information can be found in the associated DOCX Intake, and Access and Download DOCX guides.
Our next milestone will be the Patent Center beta release in early 2018. Patent Center is the new and unified system in development to replace the EFS-Web and PAIR systems. The next generation system will be more user friendly and allows applicants to file and view their patent applications in one central location. New features will include the ability to upload multiple documents at a time, drag-and-drop documents, and save submissions at any time. During the testing or beta phase, Patent Center will be available to participants for live filing and managing of patent applications. This beta phase will be a great opportunity to start the transition to using the new tool and provide feedback for improvements towards further development. If you would like to join the beta phase, guidelines and registration will be posted to the eMod page of the USPTO website, under eMod Programs as the release date approaches.
The eMod project team will continue developing and enhancing Patent Center based on public feedback, and anticipate the completed product to be ready to replace EFS-Web and PAIR in 2019. There will be a transition period while EFS-Web and PAIR are available in parallel with Patent Center.
If you have any feedback, we encourage you to contribute via eMod Ideascale by sharing, voting, and/or commenting on ideas. For more information, please visit our eMod page of the USPTO website or attend one of our outreach events. You can also contact us directly at eMod@uspto.gov.
We will continue to share updates and work with you on eMod to make our patent application process as effective, efficient, and user friendly as possible.