PTO accepts electronic patent applications

PTO accepts electronic patent applications

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

OCT. 27'The Patent and Trademark Office today began taking patent applications over the Internet.

The new Electronic Filing System, which went into operation today, uses a public-key infrastructure system to encrypt and digitally sign submissions, said Deron Burba, manager of PTO's Patent Re-engineering Systems Division.

EFS handles applications for utility patents, a category that excludes design and plant patents, project manager Diane Lewis said.

The downloadable EFS authoring tool works with Microsoft Word 97 to create a document that can be exported as an Extensible Markup Language file. A template also is available for Corel WordPerfect 9.

Another EFS program, the Electronic Packaging and Validation Engine, lets filers transmit authorship and filing fee information in XML format.

Before using EFS, independent inventors, patent attorneys and patent agents must apply to PTO for a digital certificate. The PTO, acting as its own certificate authority, uses PKI software from Entrust Technologies Inc. of Plano, Texas.

Slightly more than 10 percent of attorneys and agents registered with PTO have signed up for digital certificates so far, but that number should grow as awareness of the program increases, Burba said.

Further information about e-filing is available from the Patent Electronic Business Center at www.uspto.gov/ebc/index.html.

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