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Last modified: August 12, 2004
US Patent and Trademark Office Electronic Filing System

[December 06, 2000]

USPTO Electronic Filing and Communication Goals: "Electronic filing and correspondence over time will include the two-way electronic exchange of information that the USPTO has with individual applicants and inventors, corporate filers, registered patent attorneys and agents, legal representatives, and government entities. The USPTO has based its electronic filing and business communication initiatives on Extensible Markup Language (XML)-tagged documents and has developed standard formats for applications and most applicant/USPTO correspondence received and sent by the USPTO during the prosecution of a patent as well as post grant correspondence. Similarly, the USPTO has developed XML DTDs for trademark applications and for required post application and post registration filings. At this time some 23 patent related and 8 trademark XML documents have been defined of which a smaller number have been validated through use. The focus of this USPTO program is to encourage COTS IP software management companies to include the ability to produce the XML encoded application documents compliant with the USPTO DTDs as part of, or as an extension to, existing software products. The USPTO also solicits proposals that focus on the implementation of the full range of XML DTDs supporting two-way correspondence as well as proposals including secure electronic delivery to the PTO. The USPTO includes solicitation of proposals from corporate customers and consortia that involve the addition of the ability to produce XML encoded applications to planned or existing corporate or consortia software. It should be emphasized that a proposal that relies on the USPTO ePAVE software for delivery and validation would be acceptable, as well as, one that integrates the validation and delivery as part of a vendor software application. The goal is to provide the mechanisms to companies, independent inventors, patent and trademark practitioners, and other information exchange partners to file applications, make payments, record assignments of patents and trademarks, exchange office actions and other correspondence, and retrieve forms, publications, and other information from the USPTO with a minimum reliance on paper. Proposals including services that convert word processor documents or that include other strategies for collecting information for producing the XML documents for delivery to the USPTO are within the scope of this solicitation." [from RFA]

USPTO Electronic Filing Initiatives: Trademark Filing. "The USPTO has implemented the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). TEAS allows the applicant to complete a Trademark application, check it for completeness, and submit the completed validated application directly to the USPTO over the Internet. The applicant may pay the necessary fee(s) using an on-line credit card transaction or a USPTO deposit account. The USPTO plans to add additional business transactions to TEAS in April 2000 and implement electronic correspondence using e-mail in the summer of 2000. XML DTDs have been defined for the 7 most common Trademark transactions." [from RFA]

USPTO Electronic Filing Initiatives: Electronic Filing System (EFS). The USPTO has introduced a pilot for the receipt of specially authored XML electronic versions of patent applications from participating applicants. EFS is designed to create an XML encoded document for the USPTO. EFS uses another USPTO software application, the Electronic Packaging and Validation Engine (EPAVE), which is supported by the PTO's Public Key Infrastructure that grants filers digital certificates to secure the filings. EFS relies on the EPAVE secure delivery software for the submission of the XML document to the USPTO over the Internet. The submission of biotechnology sequence information is also supported by EFS and EPAVE." [from RFA]

"Assignments of interests in Patents and Trademarks: A patent or trademark is personal property and may be sold to others or mortgaged; it may be bequeathed by a will, and it may pass to the heirs of a deceased owner. The USPTO records and acknowledges assignments of interest, a security interest, a merger, a lien or a free-format explanation that describes the transfer. The assignment documents along with a recordation cover sheet are scanned or faxed into the Patent and Trademark Assignment System (PTAS) and then stored (no paper is handled for faxed-in documents) until they are ready to be mailed back to the customer with either a notice of recordation or a notice of non-recordation. In 1999 USPTO conducted a pilot test for electronic submission of assignments and plans to implement a production system in September 2000. XML DTDs are being defined to support electronic filing of assignments..."[from RFA]

Backgroups (from RFA): "The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has established a strategic information technology goal of conducting business electronically with its customers over the Internet. Current plans call for expanding its electronic commerce offerings by adding electronic filing and communication with customers. USPTO is offering the opportunity for partnerships with industry to stimulate electronic filing and correspondence in regard to patent and/or trademark application filing with the release of USPTO's first Request for Agreements (RFA). This is a solicitation of proposals for non-monetary agreements only... The PTO is one of the world's largest Intellectual Property Offices, processing in excess of 400,000 patent and trademark applications and in excess of 1,600,000 transactions in connection with these applications in 1999. These largely paper-based transactions include receiving and processing applications, responses to office actions, amendments, petitions, status inquiries, payments and other correspondence. While some of the transactions are electronic, the PTO still devotes significant resources to convert much of the information provided by its customers and partners into an electronically processable format. There were 272,221 patent applications, 295,165 trademark applications, and 501,052 assignments of intellectual property rights filed in 1999. A total of 20,610 electronically filed trademark applications and a small number of patent applications were received in 1999."

The Electronic Filing System (EFS) supports secure electronic filing. EFS includes: (1) authoring tools to help the applicant prepare a patent specification in XML format (2) a software package called ePAVE (electronic packaging and validation engine) to assemble the various parts of the application and transmit the application to USPTO over the Internet (3) a digital certificate to secure the transmission of the application to the USPTO The specification document created by the authoring tools, as well as the fee, transmittal, and application data sheet documents created by ePAVE are formated in XML. The USPTO uses Internet Explorer 5.5 in conjunction with style sheets to render the XML in human-readble form.... EFS provides Patent applicants and practitioners with software capabilities and technical guidance to electronically author Patent application information for submission to the USPTO via the Internet. EFS is comprised of two software components: 1) authoring software that complies with USPTO business rules and electronic data capture standards; and 2) submission software that validates bundles, compresses, and securely submits the electronic application files and information. USPTO makes available at no cost authoring and submission software. To author your specification document you may use the preferred Authoring tool known as PASAT (Patent Application Specification Authoring Tool)... The submission software is called the electronic Packaging and Validation Engine, or ePAVE. The submission software after successful transmission, returns an acknowledgement receipt that includes the date of receipt at the USPTO and an assigned Patent application number. EFS implements Patent business rules and practices using Internet technologies. The Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) is one technical standard implemented. Applicants author their Patent application specifications off-line as intelligent, tagged, electronic documents using XML. Using ePAVE applicants author other patent application information as XML 'forms'. The Extensible Markup Language is a non-proprietary standard approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). XML is a format used for exchange of information between different applications as well as for publishing information. USPTO EFS software automatically tags the patent application specification and other related application information." [EPS Introduction]

Steps for creating an electronic Patent Application: "(1) Create image files [e.g., drawings, declaration); (2) Tag the specification text using an XML word processing application [e.g., PASAT]; (3) Attach drawings to the specification XML document while authoring XML document; (4) View the authored XML tagged specification document using a web browser - (e.g., Internet Explorer 5.5 with TIFF viewer plug-in) and the USPTO standard style sheet format that is provided as part of the EFS authoring software [Patent Application Specification Authoring Tool - PASAT]; (5) Author tagged Patent application transmittal, fee, and application bibliographic information using the EFS submission software [Electronic Packaging and Validation Engine - ePAVE]; (6) Create a submission package by attaching the tagged specification XML document, the TIFF images containing scanned pages of the oath or declaration using ePAVE. ePAVE will automatically attach the transmittal, fee, and application data forms authored using ePAVE; (7) Digitally sign the submission package using ePAVE and your digital certificate; (8) Submit the submission package to USPTO via the Internet using EFS ePAVE submission software; (9) Receive the electronic acknowledgement receipt that USPTO sends you upon successful completion of the transmission using ePAVE."


  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

  • Patent Electronic Business Center

  • [August 11, 2004] "RTIS Wins Patent Data Capture Contract. $876 Million Dollar Award Is 11th Consecutive Win at USPTO for LexisNexis Unit." - "Reed Technology and Information Services Inc. (RTIS) today announced that they have been awarded the Patent Data Capture contract (PaDaCap2) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Under PaDaCap2, RTIS will continue to capture, manage, and prepare for publication patent applications submitted to the USPTO. The $876 million contract, the largest ever awarded by the USPTO, is for 7 years with a potential for 3 additional option years and is scheduled to begin January 1, 2005. RTIS is part of the LexisNexis Group, a leading global provider of legal, news and business information services. RTIS has been a best-value supplier to the USPTO for nearly 35 years, providing services that support publication of U.S. patent grants since 1970 and publication of U.S. patent applications since 2001. They have tailored their strong and flexible work flow management system to meet the USPTO's business rules to convert large volumes of complex scientific and technical information, such as chemical structures and mathematical equations, DNA sequences, tabular information and graphics, into searchable XML and image databases. The XML- and image-based patent information products that RTIS delivers under the PaDaCap2 contract are used by USPTO examiners and staff internally and disseminated worldwide by the USPTO. 'As RTIS seeks to expand its federal business, we are proud to point to our latest contract with the USPTO,' said Sam Hardman, President of RTIS. 'Our track record with the USPTO speaks to our reputation in the field and our commitment to quality and customer service. We look forward to our expanded role there and to the opportunity to share our capabilities with other Federal agencies in Washington and the global intellectual property community.' RTIS has a long history of successfully partnering with the USPTO in support of their strategic objectives through a continuous succession of eleven contract cycles. Under the new contract, RTIS will be supporting implementation of the USPTO's 21st Century Strategic Plan which is designed to keep the agency on the cutting edge of technological innovation. The new contract's work scope will expand by integrating the scanning and indexing of all new applications and follow-on correspondence received by the USPTO with other patent data capture processes. Total scanning and indexing volume processed under the expanded scope is expected to exceed 75,000,000 pages in 2005. The integrated process will serve as the foundation for implementation of key components of the USPTO's strategic vision..."

  • [April 07, 2004] "Thinking XML: Patent Filings Meet XML." By Uche Ogbuji (Principal Consultant, Fourthought, Inc). From IBM developerWorks (April 07, 2004). "The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has long tried to make electronic filings practical. This is not surprising for a bureau whose very charter is to work with a clientele that focuses on the future. Furthermore the large patent offices process an extreme volume of data and need all the help they can get in keeping that data flow clean. From 1998 through 2000 the USPTO developed SGML DTDs for patent documents; in 2000 the bureau turned its attention to XML, initiating a process to develop XML DTDs by 2002. This work expanded to include trademark-related documents. The USPTO is not alone in this endeavor. The two other large patent offices are the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO). The latter was pioneering electronic filings as far back as 1990. The WIPO acts among other things as an international arbiter for cooperation of patent offices, and it is working to standardize data interchange related to patent filing and processing. The WIPO standard is called the Electronic Patent Cooperation Treaty (E-PCT) or Annex F. It includes a set of XML DTDs that are separate from but similar to those developed by the large patent offices. In this article, I briefly discuss the WIPO XML format developed for standard electronic patent filings and interview an expert on XML-related patent filings..."

  • See also: "WIPO XML DTDs for the Electronic Patent Cooperation Treaty Application."

  • REQUEST FOR AGREEMENT (RFA) for the USPTO ELECTRONIC FILING PARTNERSHIP (EFP). Project 1, Cooperative Marketing to Promote Electronic Patent and Trademark Application Filing. 60-PBPT-0-00001. Issued: October 3, 2000. Proposals Due: 2:00 p.m. EST, March 1, 2001 [date extended]. 20 pages. Attachment 1 [cache] supplies a List of Trademark, Patent, and Assignment DTDs: (7) Trademark Transaction DTDs, (23) Patent Transaction DTDs, (2) Assignment DTDs. "The purpose of the RFA is to increase the use of electronic filing for both Trademark and Patent filings in the form of XML encoded documents. A process that results in the production of such XML encoded documents can be a stand-alone or web based software application that uses whatever data collection strategy the proponent thinks appropriate. This might include use of web based forms for collection of data that is use to create XML documents, the creation of the XML document using data bases of applicant information or a service for the conversion or word processing documents to XML compliant with USPTO DTDs. RFAs should not be limited to those that dovetail with current USPTO initiatives but should focus on the creation and delivery of the documents compliant with the USPTO XML DTDs. They should, however, explain what would be required at the USPTO to receive and acknowledge the XML encoded documents if an alternative to ePAVE is proposed for delivery." See also the HTML version. [cache]

  • RFA Comments Comments on the draft Request for Agreements (RFA) published originally in the Commerce Business Daily, April 5, 2000. "...The USPTO will maintain the in-house efforts supporting electronic filing for at least the near future until it is clear that there is a viable competitive market for software that facilitates electronic filing and correspondence between the USPTO and its customers. The ability to accept XML encoded Trademark applications will be added as will the ability to accept validated signed XML submissions of Patent applications produced by RFA developed software. Every effort will be made to integrate different submission strategies, provided that there is net benefit to the USPTO and its customers. It should be noted that delivery and validation of the XML created by external software applications is currently done by ePAVE. Once the external software has created the XML, a solution that simply proposes using ePAVE or integrating ePAVE functionality would be acceptable in an RFA." [cache]

  • (Future) Grant Red Book DTD V2.4. 2000-09-20. Specification for SGML Markup of United States Patent Grant Publications. First issue 10/17/2000. Changes have been made in the DTD of ('st32-us-grant-024nf.dtd') for compatibility with XML. [cache]

  • (Current) Grant Red Book DTD V2.3. 2000-09-08. Specification for SGML Markup of United States Patent Grant Publications. First issue 10/10/2000 (zipped). [cache]

  • Application Red Book: Specification for SGML Markup of United States Patent Application Publications. Patent Application V1.5 2000-10-11 DTD. [cache]

  • Electronic Filing System DTDs

  • [December 06, 2000] "Agency [The Patent and Trademark Office] Broadens its Use of XML." By Patricia Daukantas. In Government Computer News (GCN) Volume 19, Number 33 (November 20, 2000), page 41. "The Patent and Trademark Office is replacing its longtime proprietary markup language with more current technology. Starting in January, the agency will use Standard Generalized Markup Language for publishing patents and then will switch to Extensible Markup Language in January 2002, said Bruce Cox, manager of PTO's Information Products Division. PTO in the 1970s started using computerized phototypesetting machines with a proprietary markup language informally known as BlueBook, Cox said. More recently it began accepting certain types of patent applications in XML, a subset of SGML. 'XML has more or less taken over the world,' Cox said. The agency wanted a format that would remain system-independent for a long time. The agency tried to make the SGML specification as close to XML as possible to smooth the transition, Cox said. 'We can't absolutely prevent people from filing on paper,' he said. He acknowledged that the transition to electronic patent publishing could be tough for people accustomed to paper searches. 'But physically there's hardly any alternative,' Cox said. PTO will move to new headquarters in 2003, and its new building won't have space for the paper files." For the SGML DTDs, see the Grant Red Book Specification for SGML Markup of United States Patent Grant Publications. This document also contains references for (1) the "Application Red Book: Specification for SGML Markup of United States Patent Application Publications" and for (2) "Electronic Filing System DTDs."

  • [December 06, 2000] "PTO Starts E-government Shift." By Patricia Daukantas. In Government Computer News (GCN) Volume 19, Number 33 (November 20, 2000), pages 1, 41. ['An agency whose first 100 years was defined by paper faces future without it.] "For the first time since 1790, the Patent and Trademark Office is forgoing paper documents from inventors applying for patents. Using custom-designed software that incorporates encryption technology and an Extensible Markup Language tool, inventors or their agents now can send documents to PTO via the Internet. The new Electronic Filing System (EFS) excludes several categories of patents, and only people who have the authority to file applications -- independent inventors, patent attorneys and patent agents -- can use it. PTO officials view EFS as a move toward reducing the amount of paper the agency handles, an effort that includes wider use of XML). EFS uses a public-key infrastructure to encrypt and digitally sign submissions, said Deron Burba, manager of PTO's Patent Re-engineering Systems Division. The e-filing system handles applications for utility patents, or general inventions, project manager Diane Lewis said. In addition, applicants who have submitted biotechnology patent applications on paper can submit the lengthy gene sequence data electronically. To help applicants prepare an electronic application without extensive tutoring in XML, PTO developed a downloadable program called the Patent Application Specification Authoring Tool. PASAT works with Microsoft Word 97 to export a document as an XML file. A template also is available for Corel WordPerfect 9, which has built-in XML capability. PASAT uses S4/Text, an XML editing tool from Infrastructures for Information Inc. of Toronto, Burba said. It lets the applicant embed .tif files such as drawings, diagrams, chemical formulas and mathematical equations into a document. Another EFS program, the Electronic Packaging and Validation Engine, bundles the patent application files with authorship and filing fee data, all in XML, for transmission. It also electronically signs the application. Lockheed Martin Corp. assisted the ePAVE development effort." See Patent Electronic Business Center. Nearly 7 million patents are online in the USPTO Web Patent Databases at http//

  • [September 29, 2000] "i4i Bags Significant XML Contract." By Paul Nicholls. From (September 29, 2000). "i4i has inked a contract for the largest ever deployment of XML authoring licences. The contract with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to provide 30,000 licences seems to confirm i4i as the world's dominant supplier of XML collaborative content development tools. 'We have supplied more seats in one implementation than all our competitors combined,' said Rick Makos, chief executive officer and president of i4i. 'The USPTO contract confirms S4/TEXT is the application that will take XML mainstream, with broad appeal to a number of vertical industries, including financial services, government, manufacturing, and all regulated industries.' i4i's S4/TEXT will help the USPTO implement a new electronic system for filing patents. Lawyers and patent agents will be able to file patent applications using Microsoft Word, the world's most widely used software application. With a combination of budget cuts and a 75 percent increase in workload over the next five years, an electronic filing system is crucial to the USPTO in its day-to-day operations. 'We have four and a half acres of office space devoted to paper,' said Dennis Shaw, USPTO chief information officer. 'What we are trying to get out of is searching for paper, reproducing paper, and shipping paper.' If even 40 percent of patent lawyers and inventors make up their own applications in XML using S4/TEXT, the USPTO expects to save more than US $25 million. The USPTO's goal is to conduct 80 percent of transactions electronically by 2003. The electronic filing of patent applications offers a number of significant benefits, including: Turnaround time to process a patent application will be reduced from four years to two. Patents will be filed in multiple jurisdictions through a single filing. International standards for patent searches can be implemented. 'The i4i technology makes the electronic patent like a regular Word document,' said Shaw. 'That is what we are hoping will move us forward in our quest for customer acceptance." Similarly from News.


[Description and references from 1998-1999.]

[19981222] The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) "is a non-commercial federal entity and one of 14 bureaus in the Department of Commerce (DOC). The office occupies a combined total of over 1,400,000 square feet, in numerous buildings in Arlington, Virginia. The office employs over 5,000 full time equivalent (FTE) staff to support its major functions -- the examination and issuance of patents and the examination and registration of trademarks." As of November 1998, an collection of USPTO Web Patent Databases was available online.

[December 22, 1998] The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has released a revised version of its DTD for patent documents - ST32 US Patent Grant. The revision of 1998-December-4 under the editorship of Bruce B. Cox revises the DTD "to comply with latest revisions to Red Book and XML 1.0 (except empty tags and UNICODE)." The FPI: "-//USPTO//DTD ST.32 US Patent Grant v1.0 1998-12-08//EN". "This DTD was developed by the USPTO in August of 1997 to support the publishing of patent documents. It was derived from version 3.4 of the WIPO Standard ST.32 DTD. The original DTD was modified to handle only those elements used by the USPTO. It incorporates the CALS table and equation models, and handles graphics as external entities." The DTD itself is supplied in Appendix A of the PTO's "Red Book" SGML Data Format Definition. The collection of technical specifications documentation provides a "detailed description of the organization and content of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Patent Data/SGML. The Patent Data/SGML will consist of patent data records appearing in the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), as defined by this documentation, the ST32US Document Type Definition (DTD) file, reference Appendix A, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standard ST. 32, reference Appendix B [Appendix B: World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standard S32 - Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The SGML tag identifiers, and the appropriate data content, described in this document are used for the creation and subsequent use of the compound data of U.S. Patent documents." [local archive materials]

[October 15, 1998] A press release of October 14, 1998 announced that Reed Technology and Information Services has been "awarded a $172 million contract by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to convert hard-copy patent application files into electronic form. Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) will replace the PTO's current system of tagging information in their database. The SGML format is independent of operating systems and will provide the PTO and its customers much more flexible delivery methods. 'The SGML format should make data easier for users to search and will enable Internet access.' Also increasing is the volume of patents processed from 3,300 per week currently to an average of 4,000 or more than 200,000 annually. The PTO will eventually replace the data capture contract with a project that will allow SGML patent documents to go directly into publication. The system should be in place by 2003 and will be tested this coming year. The SGML-to-publication system will save the PTO $20 million a year."

At the SGML/XML Asia/Pacific '98 Conference, Dallas Powell (Corel) presented "XML and User Interfaces." The abstract: "Many companies realise the value of providing information in a non-proprietary structured format such as XML. It is easy to programmatically generate and act upon XML data. Data extracted from databases or from forms provides a straightforward method of implementation. Many prime opportunities exist today for widespread usage of XML but clearly what is holding progress back is the challenge users experience in creating complex structured documents with existing user interfaces. This discussion will present ideas and methods that DTD designers and interface developers can work with in order to ease the creation of XML data.

Corel has been working closely with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to develop a capability to author marked-up patent and trademark applications. The discussion will utilise the PTO technology to demonstrate the challenges and ideas." The corresponding author bio (in part): "Dallas Powell has promoted and assisted the US Patent and Trademark office in using WP SGML, assisted the US House of Representatives and Congress to use WP SGML for writing legistature and has promoted and visited with the European Patent Office to add the WP8 SGML features into their Easy Filing CD for distribution. Dallas also proposed and began the development process of WP SGML and has spoken at several conferences on SGML and other related topics."

See the Texcel press release of December 16, 1998: "U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Adopts Texcel Information Manager for Electronic Patent Examination Initiative." - "The PTO is implementing an electronic patent and trademark submission, review, and publishing process that is aimed at decreasing the time required to grant patents. Each year, over 200,000 applications are received, with each application taking over 22 months to process before a patent is awarded. . . Since processing and maintaining paper-based applications has become increasingly time-consuming, error-prone and expensive, the PTO is moving to an automated system using electronic documents. The PTO plans to begin deploying the automated system by 2001 and is projecting savings of $20 million per year. As part of this initiative, the PTO will incorporate electronic document interchange standards such as the International Standards Organization's SGML and, going forward, the World Wide Web Consortium's XML." [local archive copy]

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