On or about January 22, 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will introduce a new approach for the e-signature process of the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).
Need for Change
Currently, the originator of the signature request uses Field 1 of the "E-Signature(s) Request Form" to provide the e-mail address of the intended signatory, and Field 2 to provide a personal message. The mailbox TEAS@uspto.gov attempts delivery of the signature request to the listed address. In the event that delivery is not successful, an "undeliverable" notice is bounced directly back to TEAS@uspto.gov, and not to the originator of the request. While the TEAS Support Staff attempts re-delivery by assessing, for example, whether the provided e-mail address has a noticeable typographical error (e.g., .cmo instead of .com), this is not always possible. This may mean that the originator of the request patiently awaits a signed form to be returned, not knowing that this will never happen because the signatory did not even receive the request. Or when received, if the signatory has a question for the requestor, the signatory often hits the "reply" button--- which means that the message goes to TEAS@uspto.gov, again because that mailbox has sent out the original message (this despite the fact that the request clearly states not to click reply, and what the proper e-mail address is to reach the requestor).
To solve these problems, the e-signature approach is being changed so that the e-mail address of the intended signatory will no longer be captured. Instead, the requestor will take direct control over the process. That is, rather than the request being sent to the signatory, it will first go right back to the requestor. The requestor will then FORWARD the request to the signatory. This means that the process flow will be directly from the requestor's e-mail address, rather than TEAS@uspto.gov. If the e-mail address of the signatory is incorrect, the requestor will receive the undeliverable notice, and can then immediately make a correction (or at least contact the signatory to learn the correct address). And, any "reply" e-mails will reach the intended location, rather than inadvertently coming to the USPTO. Any personal message for the signatory should simply be included as part of the forwarded e-mail, just as is done for any other e-mail. And, a reminder that because the link for accessing the form to be signed is simply within an e-mail, this can be forwarded numerous times, if necessary, to reach the proper person who will ultimately be signing.
The remainder of the process remains unchanged. For example, once the form is signed, the requestor will receive an e-mail with a "Submit" link, to allow access to the Validation page wherein the final steps of the process are completed. The timeframe for submission is not being changed--- from the time the "E-Signature Request Form" is first completed and a link for signing is created, the form must be signed and the filing to the USPTO completed within 14 days. The clock starts running immediately, that is, it is not based on when the requestor then forwards the e-mail to the intended signatory. Please also note that the period is calculated to the minute, and is not based on the "end of the day" for the 14th day (e.g., a request originated at 2:00 p.m. must be filed no later than 2:00 p.m. 14 days later. If the final submit button is clicked at 2:01 p.m., an error message will be displayed indicating that the time period for filing has expired and the entire process must then be started from the beginning).
Please direct any questions regarding this new approach to TEAS@uspto.gov.