Learn More about how this forum is being used

This site provides a place for the public to share ideas with each other and with the government on how each agency can be more open and transparent. It specifically seeks input from the public as the agency develops its Open Government plans.

Q. Who moderates this site?

A. The eCommerce Division of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office moderates this site and the discussions on the site. To learn more about our moderation policy, please read the Terms of Participation.

Q. Why did you create this site?

A. The Open Government Directive requires agencies to create a public feedback mechanism to engage the public during the development of the agency's Open Government Plan. This website provides a tool that encourages the public to share ideas with agencies, while they are creating their plans. Rather than offer a traditional "suggestion box," this site allows the public to be more interactive and share their ideas on the eCommerce Division's modernization efforts, discuss them with each other, and vote or express agreement/disagreement with the ideas, and, as a result, the most popular ideas "rise to the top", for closer review by the Division. This site allows you not only to give us your ideas, but for you to review and weigh in on the ideas of others-and, ultimately, enables the government to better understand and respond to your ideas.

Q. What is the purpose of this site?

A. We, the eCommerce Division of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, wants the public to share their ideas on how the eCommerce experience can be improved.

This site is designed to collect and organize ideas from the public, create useful discussions, and allow ranking of the ideas through voting an idea up or down. You can use the site in three ways:

  • Share - Contribute an idea for others to comment on (requires log-in)
  • Discuss - Read ideas and comments (no log-in required) or comment on existing ideas (requires log-in)
  • Vote - Agree or disagree with an idea, moving it "up" or "down" and increasing or decreasing its popularity (requires log-in)

User ideas, comments and votes will be posted on the site and will be available to everyone. We will not edit your ideas or comments, but they may be deleted by moderators if they violate the Terms of Participation or removed from this conversation if they are deemed to be off-topic. To learn more about our moderation policy, read the Terms of Participation.

Q. What sort of ideas are we looking for?

A. We are looking for strong, innovative ideas that we can incorporate into the eCommerce Division's modernization efforts, especially the transition from using image-based documents to text-based files.

Q: Will my idea be immediately implemented in the system(s)?

A: No, please note that not all ideas will be implemented. While all ideas and feedback will be considered, the eCommerce Division cannot guarantee implementation of the suggestions provided on this site. Each idea will first be considered by the respective Subject Matter Expert(s), before going forward with implementation.

From time to time, we may also post for comment or proposed changes prior to their incorporation in the eCommerce system(s).

Q. How can I add an idea?

A. Add your idea by clicking on the "Sign-up & Share Ideas" button. If you do this without being logged in, you will be prompted to log in or create a new account. Doing this requires only an e-mail address and the creation of a password. Users also have the option to login using their existing login credentials on AOL, Google, Yahoo! or WordPress.

Q. How can I comment on an existing idea?

A. In addition to submitting ideas, this site lets you discuss others' ideas. To do this, select an idea you want to comment on and click the "Comments" link below it. Click "Post New Comment." If you haven't logged in, you will be required to do so first before entering your comment.

Q. How does voting work?

A. This site provides you with the chance to vote on others' ideas by assigning either a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" rating. You can vote based on whether you think an idea is useful, innovative, practical, or any other criteria you want to use-it's up to you! Each user can only vote once on each idea.

To register your vote, click on the "I Agree" or "I Disagree" links in the box next to the idea. If you haven't logged in, you will be required to do so first before voting for an idea.

The number you see next to each idea is the "net vote," or the number of votes in favor of an idea minus the number of votes against it. For example, an idea with a rating of 5 might have received 50 positive votes, and 45 negative ones. By using this voting system, we ensure that the ideas with the most net positive votes-the ones that receive the most support from the community-"rise to the top" where the agency hosting the discussion can see and respond to them. You can view ideas with the most votes by clicking the "Most Popular" tab at the top of the ideas. Alternative, you can view the most current ideas by clicking the "Most Recent" tab.

Q. Why do I need to log in to submit an idea, comment on an idea, or vote for an idea?

A. Anonymous posts and comments are not permitted because the Administrative Procedures Act requires that ideas and comments link to a real person (in this case via Log In and an e-mail). It also cuts down on spam and helps keep conversations more civil and honest. USPTO will not use your e-mail address for any other purpose than authenticating you as a user into this discussion. Agencies will not have access to these e-mail addresses. See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Q: Can I communicate with other users and/or the moderator privately?

A: Yes, there is a private messaging feature, initiated by either going to a user's profile or clicking on the user's name under an idea or comment. To send a message to the moderator, you can select a campaign and click on the "PM Moderator" button. The moderator can contact any user as well if necessary, in response to a comment, for example.

Q. What if I don't want the public to see my name?

A. If you post an idea or comment on someone else's idea, the first part of your e-mail address will be posted next to your comment or idea. For example, if your e-mail address is john.smith@e-mail.com, then next to your ideas and comments, users will see you identified as "john.smith." Or, if your email address is yogamaster@email.com, users will see "yogamaster" next to your ideas/comments.

If you want to change your name, simply log in and, before posting an idea or a comment or voting on someone else's idea, edit the first and/or last name fields of your profile. You can create any user name you want to identify yourself by using these fields. Once you do that, users will see the names you selected when you post your ideas and comments. For more information, visit http://www.ideascale.com/help/514.html.

Q. What is your moderation policy?

A. Our moderation policy is under our Terms of Participation.

Q. What is your privacy policy?

A. Learn more about our privacy policy.

Q. What Internet browser / settings do I need to view this site?

A. This site is best viewed using: Internet Explorer 7.0 and above and Firefox. In order to view and use all options on our site, you will need java script and cookie support enabled on your browser.

Q. I don't want to use this site to share my idea. Can I still submit it?

A. Yes. Please email emod@uspto.gov to submit your idea to us directly.

Terms of Service/Participation and Privacy Policy: modeled after http://uspto-mpep.ideascale.com/a/panelDetails.do?id=9426&detailID=1216…

Terms of Participation and Privacy Policy

"We invite you to join the conversation to help improve the current electronic filing system of patent applications.

The eCommerce Team in the Office of Patent Information Management created this Web site in order to engage people in a discussion around how to improve this important system.

To foster interaction, visitors to this Web site may submit ideas, submit comments about ideas, and vote for the ideas they think are the most important.

The eCommerce Team will periodically be posting proposed new material for you to respond to, and will, in some cases, post responses to some of the ideas and comments.

Moderation Policy and Terms of Participation

We at the USPTO believe in the importance of openly sharing ideas and we hope to receive comments from all viewpoints. We do however require that the discussion remain on topic and appropriate for participants of all ages. Accordingly, we ask all participants to agree to the following Terms of Participation:

  1. To ensure a productive discussion, those who elect to participate agree to post only ideas or comments directly related to the eFiling Modernization efforts.
  2. Those who elect to participate agree to conduct themselves in a civil manner. This includes refraining from submitting obscene or threatening language; discriminatory language (including hate speech) based on race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability; sexually explicit material; and other material that would violate the law if published here.
  3. Those who elect to participate agree to refrain from submitting ideas or comments that promote services or products (not including non-commercial links that are relevant to this Web site); and to refrain from including private phone numbers, email addresses, or postal addresses or embedding other media (not including hyperlinks to other media).

By participating in this online community, visitors also agree that ideas or comments they submit for posting may be rated by other members of the public through the use of up or down voting arrows. The rating score of comments is displayed next to the comment. A positive rating increases the score and a negative rating decreases the score.

By participating in this online community, visitors also agree that ideas or comments they submit for posting may be flagged as inappropriate by other members of the public through the use of the "report this" link that is visible alongside each idea. The editorial staff will be monitoring flagged content and reserve the right to move or remove offensive or inappropriate content.

As noted above, ideas and comments that are deemed inappropriate may be moved or removed from the Web site. Other than this, ideas and comments will not be edited except that editorial staff may remove personally identifiable information such as social security numbers, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, other people's names and information, etc.

Privacy Policy

Information Provided by Participants

We gather/publish information from you on this Web site in three ways:

  • Information Entered by You upon Registration;

You do not have to give us personal information to visit this Web site and read its contents.

However, before you can interact at this Web site, we require registration and request information upon registration that can be directly associated with you. We call this 'Personal Information.' It includes your name, your email address, and a password. You can change this Personal Information at any time. We encourage you to identify yourself by your legal name, to encourage civil discourse and as a means to creating a strong reputation for yourself as part of this online community.

We collect no other Personal Information about you other than that which you choose to provide as part of the registration process.

It is our general policy not to make Personal Information available to anyone other than members of the USPTO Information Technology Program Management Office unless it is required by law or is disclosed as otherwise described in this policy; e.g.,ideas and comments are displayed with the name that the visitor chooses to provide upon registration. The USPTO Information Technology Program Management Office does not sell, rent, exchange or otherwise disclose our mailing lists or information about our site visitors.

  • Information you choose to Publish

When you submit information for publication on this Web site, the submission will be published with that name. Other Personal Information, including email address, will not be published.

  • Information Gathered indirectly to Analyze General Traffic Patterns

In order to analyze general traffic patterns for the purpose of making our site more useful to visitors, we automatically log and temporarily store the following information:

    • IP addresses, which are the locations of computers or networks on the Internet, of visitors to this Web site;
    • The types of browsers and operating systems used to access this Web site;
    • The date and time of visits to this Web site;
    • The pages visited; and
    • The address of Web sites from which visitors arrive at this Web site.

We do not gather, request, record, require, collect or track any user's Personal Information through these processes.


A cookie is a piece of data stored by a user's browser that helps a Web site or service recognize that user's unique computer. You can remove or block cookies by changing the settings of your browser.

Session specific cookies may be used to improve the user experience and for basic Web metrics. These cookies expire in a very short time frame or when a browser window closes and are permitted by current federal guidelines.

Links to Other Sites

This Web site has links to other government and non-government Web sites. Once you follow a link to a different Web site, your actions are no longer subject to this Terms of Participation and Privacy Policy.

Children's Privacy

Because we care about the safety and privacy of children online, we comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). COPPA and its accompanying FTC regulation establish United States federal law that protects the privacy of children using the Internet. We do not knowingly contact or collect personal information from children under 13. Our site is not intended to solicit information of any kind from children under 13.

Privacy Act Statement

The Privacy Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-579) requires that you be given certain information in connection with your furnishing of identifying information to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) through the MPEP online discussion tool. Accordingly, pursuant to the requirements of the Act, please be advised that (1) the general authority for the collection of this information is 35 U.S.C. § 2 and 44 U.S.C. § 3101; (2) furnishing of the information solicited is voluntary; and (3) the principal purpose for which the information is intended to be used by the USPTO is to increase the utility in disseminating information to the public about USPTO. If you do not furnish the requested information, you may not be permitted to post responses using the online discussion tool.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses: See Prefatory Statement of General Routine Uses Nos. 4-5, 9-10, and 13, as found at 46 FR 63501-63502 (December 31, 1981). The USPTO may use the information contained in this system of records to provide patent and trademark business information to customers or to provide customers with access to patent and trademark business information.

Internet Security

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this service are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act.

Your Agreement

These are terms of an agreement between you and this Web site. By submitting an idea,submitting a comment, or voting for an idea, you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and agree to be bound by these terms and to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

If you wish to communicate with the USPTO about the eFiling Modernization project but do not wish to register on this Web site or abide by the Terms of Participation, you can contact us at emod@uspto.gov. For other matters relating to the USPTO, please view our list of contacts.

Changes to this Policy

We anticipate rolling out new participatory features to this Web site and will update the Terms of Participation accordingly.

We will also revise or update this policy if our practices change, or as we develop better ways to keep you informed about them. You should refer back to this page often for the latest information and the effective date of any changes. If we decide to change this policy, we will post a new policy on our site and change the date at the bottom. Changes to the policy shall not apply retroactively.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Terms of Participation and Privacy Policy. We encourage your participation in the discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at emod@uspto.gov.