Patent applications going electronic

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced this week that all newly filed patent applications will be converted to electronic files and processed electronically.

Also, over the next 15 months, the UPSTO will scan more than half a million pending applications into its systems, creating an image file wrapper. This electronic file will become the official file for processing the application.

"The creation of an end-to-end patent application process by Oct. 1, 2004, is a key component of the agency's 21st-century strategic plan," James Rogan, undersecretary of Commerce for intellectual property, said in a statement.

Electronic patent processing will provide faster and more efficient service to customers, USPTO officials said. An electronic application can be viewed by several USPTO employees at the same time and reduces the risks of losing paper documents.

The USPTO plans to scan more than 3 million pages per week, and an initial 100 terabytes of data storage is needed to manage the electronic patent applications, according to USPTO officials.

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