As a part of our continuous efforts to modernize and streamline our patent application systems, applicants have the ability to file patent application-related documents in DOCX format through EFS-Web, Private PAIR, and Patent Center. DOCX filing of the specification, claims, abstract and drawings are available to all EFS-Web Registered and Private PAIR users. Patent Center registered and unregistered users may file the specification, claims, abstract and drawings in DOCX format.
What is DOCX?
DOCX is a word processing file format based on open standards, including Extensible Markup Language (XML). DOCX is supported by many popular word processing applications, such as Microsoft Word 2007 or higher, Google Docs, Office Online, LibreOffice and Pages for Mac. As an open standard format, DOCX offers a safe and stable basis for authoring and processing intellectual property documents. Currently, the USPTO is accepting DOCX for these submission types .
- Increased efficiencies: eliminates the need to convert structured text into a PDF for filing.
- Higher data quality: reduces conversion errors that can occur when converting to a PDF file.
- Smarter interface: detects common errors, such as formatting errors, and provides instant feedback to prevent unnecessary delays in processing your application.
- Application Management: DOCX data allows future reuse of content and delivering new powerful features such as improved searching for patent applications and submissions.
- Privacy: provides automatic metadata detection (e.g. author and comments) and removal features to support the submission of only substantive information in the DOCX file.
- Improved application quality: provides content-based validations pre-submission, identifying issues up front and allowing for them to be addressed before examination begins.
- Ease of use: provides automated document indexing.
- Compatibility: eliminates the non-embedded font error, the most common obstacle in uploading a PDF, by uploading your file with supported fonts.
How does the DOCX engine work?
- Warnings and Errors: DOCX data is analyzed and feedback is generated for common mistakes and errors. While warnings will not prevent a user from filing an application, users are encouraged to review applications thoroughly before submission.
- Headings: DOCX data is further used to provide automatic doc code detection by analyzing headings of sections. DOCX templates are available in the DOCX Resources section with some common section headings.
Applicants can file test submissions through Patent Center training mode, located at the bottom of the Patent Center dashboard to practice filing in DOCX.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What happens to the metadata in DOCX files?
Metadata is generally removed by applicants prior to submission. However, if metadata is found during the validation process, it is automatically removed prior to submission. Examples of metadata include author, company, last modified by, etc. The only information that is preserved is the size, page count, and word count.Outgoing DOCX documents (i.e. Office actions) from the USPTO to applicants will also have metadata removed.
Can I upload a single document in DOCX that includes the specification, claims, abstract and drawings?
DOCX submissions in EFS-Web must be in separate documents, one each for specification, claims, abstract and drawings. Multi-section documents processing is only available for utility non-provisional initial filings (specification, claims, abstract and drawings in one single document) exclusively within Patent Center.
Will my patent applications which include chemical structures, equations, etc. be loaded correctly in DOCX?
DOCX services fully support equation editing software, such as MathML, and chemical structure editing software, such as ChemDraw. The USPTO has conducted extensive DOCX testing with files that contain chemical structures and mathematical formulae and determined that Patent Center and EFS-Web are able to store and process DOCX files with high fidelity and no errors. Further, after thorough extensive DOCX testing with files that contain chemical structures and mathematical formulae, we determined that they are rendered correctly when they use an approved font. Please see our supported fonts list in the DOCX Resources section.
Is requiring the DOCX format just adding another step in the process for applicants?
Actually, it's the opposite. The USPTO conducted a study and found that over 80% of applicants are authoring their applications in DOCX format (through writing tools such as Microsoft Word). Because the files are originally in a DOCX format, uploading the original file eliminates the step for the applicant to convert the document to PDF prior to submission. Instead, the applicant is able to save the step of converting because our system will do that automatically.