Top of Notices Top of Notices   (375)  December 26, 2023 US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE Print This Notice 1517 CNOG  2626 

Electronic Filing and Submission Referenced Items (355, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 377, 378)
(375)                Customer Number Bar Code Labels and
                       Papers with Shaded Portions will
                          No Longer be Permitted in
                    Correspondence for Patent Applications

   The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is now
scanning patent applications that are not subject to secrecy orders, to
create image file wrappers (IFW). The patent application papers that
are being scanned include new applications, as well as patent
application correspondence, and the backfile of pending patent
applications. Application papers relating to the international stage of
Patent Cooperation Treaty applications are not currently being scanned.
See Notification of United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent
Application Records being Stored and Processed in Electronic Form, 1271
Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 100 (June 17, 2003). Because of certain IFW
limitations, current practice must be changed in the following two

   1. Bar code labels for Customer Numbers will no longer be permitted to
be used in any correspondence to the Office.
   A bar code reader frequently cannot read a bar code label when it is
displayed on a computer monitor as part of an IFW. If there are
numerals for the Customer Number below the bar code, however, then the
numerals will be used if they are legible. As such numerals included on
a bar code label are, however, generally small, and frequently
difficult to read, and the bar code itself is no longer able to be
processed, the continued usage of bar code labels to indicate a
Customer Number on any correspondence to the Office, including Office
forms, will no longer be permitted. Accordingly, the only acceptable
mode of presenting a Customer Number on correspondence, including
Office forms, will be by typing or printing it. Office forms that
formerly permitted placing or affixing a bar code label for a Customer
Number (e.g., the Utility Application Transmittal form, PTO/SB/05) have
been recently revised (with a June 2003 revision date) to delete all
references to an attached bar code label. The current forms require,
instead, that a Customer Number be typed or printed thereon. While
former versions of Office forms may still be used, applicants should
print or type-in a Customer Number (instead of affixing a bar code
label). If a bar code label for a Customer Number is affixed, it should
be understood that the Office systems may not be able to translate the
bar code to the corresponding Customer Number. Accordingly, it is to be
emphasized that applicants should no longer affix a Customer Number bar
code label to any patent forms filed with the Office as the request to
establish, or to change, a correspondence address, a power of attorney,
or a fee address. In the event that a bar code label for a Customer
Number is used, and it cannot be processed by the Office, the Office
will follow the procedures set forth in Section 403 of the Manual of
Patent Examining Procedure (8th Ed., Aug. 2001) (Rev. 1, Feb. 2003).

   2. Gray backgrounds on forms or correspondence are no longer permitted.
   Forms or other correspondence that do not have a white background
(e.g., shading or colored backgrounds), such as the Utility Application
Transmittal form (PTO/SB/05), are difficult to read when scanned and
viewed as part of an IFW. Text on a background other than white is
often indistinguishable from the shaded or colored background in the
scanned images of the IFW. As a result, in the IFW, any text submitted
on a shaded or colored background may be illegible. Consequently,
applicants may no longer file any forms that have gray backgrounds, and
must, therefore, only use or create documents with dark text
(preferably black ink) with a white background. Office forms that
formerly had gray backgrounds have been recently revised (with a June
2003 revision date) to eliminate such gray backgrounds and applicants
should only use the recently revised forms. If a (scanned image of a)
document with a gray background is added to an IFW, and is found to be
illegible, and not able to be used, the Office will attempt to find the
Top of Notices Top of Notices   (375)  December 26, 2023 US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE 1517 CNOG  2627 

information elsewhere. For example, if an applicant submits a document
with a Customer Number typed in a box with a gray background, and the
document states that the address associated with the Customer Number
should be used for the correspondence address, if the scanned document
is illegible, the Office will look for a designation of a
correspondence address in another location.

   In summary, effective immediately:
   Customer Number bar code labels should no longer be used.
   Forms or other correspondence with a non-white background should
   no longer be used.

   Questions regarding this notice should be directed to Karin
Ferriter, Senior Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration,
at (703) 308-6906, or to

July 15, 2003                                              STEPHEN G. KUNIN
                                                    Deputy Commissioner for
                                                  Patent Examination Policy

                                 [1274 OG 105]