PTO awards electronic-filing contracts

PTO awards electronic-filing contracts

The Patent and Trademark Office today negotiated zero-dollar contracts with five companies to sell electronic-filing services for patent applications.

The companies will integrate their applications with PTO’s existing Electronic Filing System. EFS has proven so difficult to use that PTO receives about 3 percent of patent applications through it [see story at www.gcn.com/21_15/news/18990-1.html].

The five companies are Aspen Grove Inc., of Needham, Mass.; AutoDocs LLC. of Falls Church, Va.; First to File Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif.; LegalStar Inc. of Williamsville, N.Y.; and LexisNexis Group of Atlanta, Ga.

PTO officials said EFS proved that e-filing makes sense, but the process “now can be better addressed by vendors with a profit motive and market experience.”

PTO issued a request for proposals for the effort in November and received proposals in January.

“This is the first and most ambitious step in the effort to automate patent processing,” said undersecretary for intellectual property James E. Rogan at a contract signing ceremony held at PTO’s headquarters.

The five contracts move PTO from a one-size-fits-all approach to multiple methods for various types of patent applicants, Rogan said. “Each of the five companies will be pursuing their own business plan,” he said.

The five contracts come as the agency has announced plans to revise its automation initiatives to boost the use of electronic data and possibly piggyback on a system used by PTO’s European and Japanese counterparts.

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