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Filing Patent Applications Using the Internet

April 2000

Last fall the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the filing of the first new patent application over the Internet -- a gene sequence listing for a pending biotechnology application.

Electronic Filing System Pilot

Early this year, PTO, a new performance-based organization in the Department of Commerce, unveiled a pilot program that will allow a small group of participants to apply for patents online for inventions that aren’t too complex.

PTO's Electronic Filing System Pilot eliminates the cost and delay of physically handling, processing and delivering patent applications. This service also offers PTO's customers automated assistance in preparing their transmittal information and provides real time acknowledgment of submissions.

"The Department of Commerce is using the web to entirely change the way we interact with our customers. What eBay has done for auctions, we are trying to do for government," U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley said. "The EFS Pilot moves Commerce another step closer to going from a paper-based bureaucracy to an all-digital Department by the year 2002."

Unlike trademark applications, patent applications are confidential, presenting the PTO a special challenge. EFS Pilot uses an electronic Packaging and Validation Engine (ePAVE,) developed by the agency. ePAVE provides customers with a means to enter transmittal and fee information, bundle it with the application's Declaration and Specification, compress the package, and transmit it to the agency.

To address the confidentially and integrity of the information as it is being transmitted over the Internet, ePAVE leverages PTO's recently deployed Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) software to digitally sign and encrypt the information.

"Our customers file applications for much of the world's most sophisticated advertising and technology and they expect state-of-the-art service from the agency," said Q. Todd Dickinson, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks."

Track Status of Patent Applications

PTO patent customers can also track the status of their patent applications without compromising confidentiality or security using PTO's Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system.

Trademark Processes

Customers can also apply for trademarks online and search for trademark records. See Trademark Information page.

Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) allows the public to search and retrieve, for free via an Internet browser, the 2.6 million plus pending, registered, abandoned, cancelled or expired trademark records found in PTO’s X-Search system. PTO’s X-Search is the same database and search system used by PTO’s examining attorneys for examination of trademark applications.

TESS is slated to replace the older online trademark search database that PTO made available to the public. The previous database was updated with new information only every two months. The TESS system is updated five times per week. For the first time, the public has access within 24 hours of entry to the same trademark data as the PTO’s examining attorneys.

About PTO

The PTO is the Commerce Department’s user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks. Over 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 161,000 patents and registered 104,000 trademarks.

For More Information

Contact Richard Maulsby at (703) 305-8341 or Moorie Goodman or Pat Woodward at (202) 482-4883.