PTO launches Internet filing for certain biotech patents

PTO launches Internet filing for certain biotech patents

By Frank Tiboni
GCN Staff

Team that helped build the ePAVE system at PTO for receiving certain biotechnology patent filings online includes, from left, Huyen Tran, Rob Porter and Deron Burba.

The Patent and Trademark Office has built a system that for the first time lets the agency receive application data for certain biotechnology patent filings via the Internet.

Companies can send their gene sequence listing for a pending biotechnology application online instead of sending the information on a tape or a disk through the mail, said Rob Porter, director of PTO's Office of System Development and Maintenance.

PTO in late September rolled out EFS BIO, a component of its evolving Electronic Filing System. The agency hopes the pilot program will eliminate the cost and delay of physically handling, processing and delivering gene sequence listings, Porter said.

To let biotech companies file their gene sequence listings online, PTO and a team of contractors including Computer Sciences Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. developed the Electronic Parking and Validation Engine application.

The ePAVE app lets companies enter transmittal information, bundle it with the gene sequence listing, compress the package and transmit it, said Deron Burba, manager of PTO's Patent Re-engineering Systems Division.

PTO used Visual Basic and Visual C++ to build ePAVE. The 32-bit application runs under Microsoft Windows 9x and Windows NT, Burba said.

It's PKI secure

To ensure confidentiality and integrity of the information over the Internet, ePAVE leverages PTO's new public-key infrastructure to digitally sign and encrypt data, Burba said.

The agency worked with Entrust Technologies Inc. of Plano, Texas, to develop the PKI, which has 128-bit encryption, he said.

Hewlett-Packard Co. D-class 380 and K-class 460 servers running HP-UX 10.20 receive the applications online. PTO also employs FireWall-1 from Check Point Software Technologies Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., running on a Sun Microsystems Inc. server to protect against intrusion into the network, Burba said.

PTO first came up with the concept for an ePAVE-like electronic filing app in 1982 but began working on the pilot program seven months ago. The agency has spent about $400,000 on the system, Porter said.

Expect the best

'Our customers are filing applications for some of the world's most sophisticated advertising and technology, and they expect state-of-the-art service from the agency,' said Q. Todd Dickinson, PTO's acting commissioner. 'Our trademark customers have been able to file and track their applications on the Internet for the past year. EFS BIO moves the PTO significantly closer to offering our patent customers full service e-commerce.'

The ePAVE app handled the first gene sequence listing for a pending biotechnology application via the Internet on Sept. 29. PTO will prepare 15 more CD-ROMs containing the app for filings participants over the next few months, said Huyen Tran, PTO's system development manager for EFS.

Later this year, PTO plans to expand the EFS BIO pilot and, using ePAVE, offer electronic filing of most patent applications, Tran said.

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