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(420) DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Patent and Trademark Office
[Docket No.: PTO-P-2015-0008]
Change to Internet Usage Policy To Permit Oral Authorization for
Video Conferencing Tools by Patent Examiners
AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.
SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
established an Internet usage policy in 1999, and this Internet usage
policy permits patent examiners to communicate via the Internet only
with individuals who have a written authorization in the application.
This Internet usage policy also applies to USPTO video conferencing
tools such as WebEx for use by patent examiners. The USPTO is updating
its Internet usage policy by modifying the authorization requirements
to now permit oral authorization for video conferencing tools, such as
WebEx, to be provided by the patent applicant/practitioner to patent
examiners before an interview is conducted.
DATES: Effective: The change to the Internet usage policy set forth in
this notice is effective on April 29, 2015.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Polutta, Senior Legal Advisor,
Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy
Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy at (571) 272-7709.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The USPTO adopted an Internet usage policy
in 1999. See Internet Usage Policy, 64 FR 33056 (June 21, 1999). The
Patents portion of the Internet usage policy has been incorporated into
section 502.03 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP). The
Trademarks portion of the Internet usage policy has been superseded by
the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, which contains the
relevant guidance on this subject matter for trademark examining
attorneys, trademark applicants, and registration owners.
In accordance with the Internet usage policy as adopted in 1999,
patent examiners may communicate via the Internet only with individuals
who have a written authorization in the application. See MPEP 502.03
(9th ed. 2014). This Internet usage policy also applies to USPTO video
conferencing tools, such as WebEx, used by patent examiners.
The USPTO is updating its Internet usage policy by modifying the
authorization requirements for patent examination to now include oral
authorization for video conferencing tools such as WebEx in view of the
more prevalent and accepted use of electronic communications and
improvements in internet security. The USPTO will now accept oral
authorization by the patent applicant/practitioner (practitioner) to
participate in a video conference. Practitioners may request a video
conference just as they would request a telephone or in-person
interview with the examiner. For applicants that are juristic entities,
see MPEP 401, which explains that a juristic entity must be represented
by a registered practitioner.
Under the updated Internet usage policy, patent examiners may now
use USPTO video conferencing tools, e.g., WebEx, to conduct examiner
interviews in both published and unpublished applications without
written authorization in the application. Authorization by the
practitioner (which may be oral) to conduct a video conference is still
required and must be obtained prior to sending a meeting invitation
using email, calendar/scheduler applications, or USPTO video
conferencing tools. Authorization is required to confirm that the
practitioner is able to conduct a video conference and to confirm the
email address to which the invitation will be sent. The patent examiner
should note on the record the details of the authorization either in
the interview summary or a separate communication. This authorization
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is limited to the video conference interview being arranged (including
the meeting invitation) and does not extend to other communications
regarding the application.
Although this change in Internet usage policy provides applicant's
representative with an alternative to providing a written authorization
to conduct an interview using USPTO video conferencing tools, the best
practice is to have such written authorization of record in the file.
All Internet communications between UPSTO employees and
practitioners must be made using USPTO tools. Video conferencing
communications regarding a patent application must be hosted by USPTO
personnel. No personal phones, non-USPTO email, PDAs, etc. may be used
by USPTO employees for official communications.
In accordance with MPEP 502.03 and 713.04, all communications with
regard to the merits of a patent application between USPTO employees
and applicants must be made of record.
April 23, 2015 MICHELLE K. LEE
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and
Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office
[1414 OG 400]