USPTO, European counterpart set up e-exchange

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Office have agreed to create an electronic service to expedite the process for applicants seeking global patents. The service will let filers exchange patent application priority documents electronically between the two offices.

Businesses file application priority documents to make filing claims in the U.S. patent office based on prior filings in the European Patent Office, or vice versa, USPTO officials said.

Technical specifications for the document exchange are included in a set of trilateral specifications on which USPTO and the European and Japanese patent offices have agreed, said Brigid Quinn, a USPTO spokeswoman. They include Simple Object Access Protocol-based Web services for exchanging application priority documents as digitally signed PDF attachments over an Internet-based virtual private network called TRINet.

Applicants currently file paper copies of the priority documents at their own expense. With the reciprocal service, USPTO and the European Patent Office can obtain those documents from the partner’s electronic records management system at no cost to the applicant.

“By leveraging our electronic file management systems, we can streamline our internal processing while providing our applicants with the substantial benefits of reduced expenses and paperwork,” USPTO Director Jon Dudas said in a statement about the new service.

The two offices said they expect to finish testing the service this month and to begin offering it in January 2007.

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