PTO takes biotech patents online

The Patent and Trademark Office can now receive a limited number of patent applications over the Internet following a successful test of the agency's electronic filing system.

The successful test of PTO's Electronic Filing System BIO enables the agency to accept electronic application data for certain biotechnology patent filings—a development that brings the agency one step closer to being able to offer a full range of patent services electronically.

The EFS BIO system, which is a component of the agency's larger EFS system, eliminates the cost and delay of manually processing and delivering gene sequence listings. It also alerts users immediately when PTO has received their patent application.

To secure the confidential patent data, the PTO is using an application called ePAVE, which enables customers to enter their application data, bundle it with the gene sequence listing, compress the package and transmit it. Security for ePAVE is provided through the PTO's public key infrastructure, which allows users to digitally sign and encrypt the information.

The PTO plans to expand the EFS BIO system and in 2000 will allow customers to file most patent applications electronically. For the past year, customers have been able to file and track trademark applications using the Internet. Last year, PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,000 trademarks.

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