Patent applications go online

Patent Electronic Business Center

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is now receiving via the Internet the

first of what could be tens of thousands of patent applications filed electronically

this year.

One week ago, USPTO launched its electronic patent application filing

system that allows anyone to file confidential patent application over the

Internet. So far, USPTO has received three submissions via the system, but

the agency anticipates accepting as many as 30,000 applications this year

through the system.

In order to file, USPTO gives users a customer identification number,

a digital certificate to authenticate the user and secure the file, and

software applications to help users prepare the application documents.

The software assembles all components of the application, calculates

the fees, validates the content and compresses, encrypts and transmits the

file to USPTO. Filers receive immediate acknowledgment of the filing.

Electronic submissions are in Extensible Markup Language, which makes

them easier to process and publish, said Deron Burba, manager of USPTO's

patent re-engineering systems division. XML enables the definition, transmission

and interpretation of data between applications and organizations.

"By receiving intelligent and valid data, we don't have the data entry

errors we experienced in our data entry process," said Diane Lewis, a project

manager at USPTO representing patent customers. "The data comes in as a

standard presentation that's helpful in facilitating processing."

Patent applications are traditionally scanned, or manually re-keyed,

and stored as an image, which means they must be converted before the agency

publishes them.

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