General

19Jan 2024

As part of the continued move toward total electronic processing, the USPTO will issue certificates of correction for patents electronically beginning January 30, 2024. The electronic certificate of correction will be the official certificate of correction issued under seal as provided for by the applicable statute. The USPTO will make electronic certificates of correction available in both the public and private views of Patent Center on the certificate’s date of issuance. Therefore, the public and the patent owner will be able to immediately view the official electronic certificate of correction. The USPTO will not mail a paper copy of the certificate of correction. Patents issued on or after April 18, 2023, are issued electronically, whereas patents issued before April 18, 2023, were issued on paper. All certificates of correction for patents issued on or after January 30, 2024, will be issued electronically, regardless of whether the patent was issued on paper or electronically. The other practices incident to issuance of a certificate of correction for notifying the public and the patent owner, as detailed in the Background section above, will not change. A notice will be sent to the patent owner to indicate that an electronic certificate of correction has issued. If the patent is associated with a Customer Number enrolled in the Patent Center Electronic Office (e-Office) Action program, the USPTO will send an email notification of the certificate of correction to the designated email addresses. Otherwise, the USPTO will mail a notification that the certificate of correction has issued to the correspondence address of record

18Jan 2024

Starting on January 17, 2024, non-provisional utility patent applications, with specification, claims and abstract in non DOCX filing formats, i.e., in PDF, will incur a surcharge of $400. An option for applicants to provide a backup PDF, or auxiliary PDF, version of their application with their DOCX version is available. There are no fees associated with providing the backup PDF. However, keep in mind the following issues:

The DOCX document that you upload (“D1”) will not control, because during the filing process the USPTO creates a different DOCX filed (“D2”) which will actually control. Therefore, if D1 and D2 are different, your patent will have errors which could no longer be corrected by requesting a certificate of correction, but can be corrected only by filing petition (which might or might not be granted).

The auxiliary PDF also will not control, therefore, filing it will not assure you that your patent will be free from USPTO errors.

What is the best way to proceed?

In my opinion (and in the opinion of many other practitioners) the best way to proceed is to continue to file all the applications in PDF format, paying the surcharge of $400. It would be much more expensive to correct a patent with error in chemical or mathematical formulas.

Of course this new USPTO surcharge is not applicable to National Stage Applications, which can still safely filed in PDF format.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if you wish to discuss this matter in more details.

24Mar 2023

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a final rule in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020, that includes a fee for patent applications that are not filed in the DOCX format. The fee only applies to non-provisional utility applications and not to design, plant, or provisional applications.

The effective date of this new fee was most recently delayed in a final rule published in the Federal Register on December 29, 2022 and was scheduled to become effective on April 3, 2023. Through a new final rule, the USPTO is delaying the effective date of this fee until June 30, 2023.

The USPTO is committed to ensuring a successful and smooth transition to the DOCX format for patent applicants. You can find the full text of the final rule in the Federal Register and on the USPTO’s Patent Related Notices webpage

17Mar 2023

On April 18, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will begin issuing electronic patent grants (eGrants) rather than paper patents.

Part of this changeover involves modifying the Issue Fee Transmittal form (PTOL-85B) and its web-based version. The form no longer allows for advance orders of patent copies, because patents may be printed directly from Patent Center when issued. Advance orders for copies of patents issuing on or after April 18 will not be processed.

Additionally, since eGrants may be issued shortly after paying the issue fee and sooner than applicants are accustomed to, the PTOL-85B form includes a reminder to file any continuing application prior to issue-fee payment so as not to jeopardize copendency. The newly modified form can be found here

02Mar 2023

To further advance its information technology strategy of achieving complete, beginning-to-end electronic processing of patent-related submissions, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a final rule to require that patent term extension (PTE) applications, interim PTE applications, and any PTE-related submissions to the USPTO be submitted electronically via the USPTO patent electronic filing system. This change reduces the administrative burden on PTE applicants and improves administrative efficiency by facilitating electronic file management, optimizing workflow processes, and reducing processing errors. The full text of the final rule is available at the Federal Register and on the USPTO’s Patent Related Notices webpage.

27Feb 2023

Beginning April 18, 2023, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is shifting towards issuing paper waste-reducing electronic patent grants (eGrants) to patent recipients—a new process that delivers the official copy of patent grants in an electronic format. A bound paper version as a ceremonial copy throughout a limited transition period will be provided, and then for a nominal fee thereafter. 

“By issuing eGrants, the USPTO is making considerable strides toward more environmentally-conscious operations at the USPTO,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Providing 21st century service to our stakeholders means shifting our processes to reflect 21st century policies. The eGrant process not only minimizes paper waste, but it also benefits stakeholders by reducing pendency and streamlining the process. It’s a win-win for the agency and for our customers.”

The eGrant process significantly decreases USPTO’s printing and mailing needs, potentially reducing patent pendency, and saving the agency nearly $2 million in annual printing and mailing costs. Further, under the new process, patent recipients will receive their electronic patent grant in PDF format on the day of issuance.

During the transition period, patent awardees will have access to the eGrant official copy in Patent Center and receive the bound paper version as a ceremonial copy. Patent recipients may still request USPTO certified copies and presentation copies from the USPTO’s certified copy center for an additional fee. Unlimited free copies of eGrants can also be printed from USPTO’s online Patent Center. The agency already provides electronic trademark registration certificates to trademark owners.

For more information, read the full Federal Register Noticeor visit the eGrant webpage on the USPTO website, where you can find our eGrant FAQ document and additional information.

05Jan 2023

Effective immediately, small entities are entitled to a 60% discount (up from a 50% discount) and micro entities are entitled to an 80% discount (up from a 75% discount). The new fee schedule can be found at https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/fees-and-payment/uspto-fee-schedule.

New penalties, however, are set forth for false assertions.

Under the new law, “ an entity that is found to have falsely asserted entitlement to a fee reduction under this section shall be subject to a fine, to be determined by the Director, the amount of which shall be not less than 3 times the amount that the entity failed to pay as a result of the false assertion, whether the Director discovers the false assertion before or after the date on which a patent has been issued.” It should be kept in mind that there is a duty to investigate entitlement to claim small entity status, which must be verified before small entity status is first claimed (e.g., when paying discounted filing fees), again when the issue fee payment is made, and again when each maintenance fee payment is made.

29Dec 2022
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a final rule in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020 that includes a fee for patent applications that are not filed in DOCX format, except for design, plant, or provisional applications. This new fee was scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2023. Through this final rule, the USPTO is delaying the effective date of this fee until April 3, 2023. The USPTO has held and continues to hold many discussions with stakeholders to ensure a fair and reasonable transition to the DOCX format.  This final rule is effective December 29, 2022. The change to 37 CFR 1.16(u) in amendatory instruction 2.i., published at 85 FR 46932 on August 3, 2020, is applicable only to nonprovisional utility applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 on or after April 3, 2023. You can find the full text of the final rule in the Federal Register and on the USPTO’s Patent Related Notices webpage.
13Dec 2022

{3 minutes to read}  The Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program is designed to positively impact the climate by accelerating the examination of patent applications for innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under this program, qualifying applications involving greenhouse gas reduction technologies are advanced out of turn (granted special status) for examination until a first action on the merits — typically the first substantive examination — is complete. 

For qualifying applications, the applicant does not incur the “petition to make special” fee and is not required to satisfy the other requirements of the accelerated examination program. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will accept petitions to make special under this program until June 5, 2023, or the date when 1,000 applications have been granted special status under this program, whichever occurs first. This program aligns and supports the USPTO’s efforts to secure an equitable economic future, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Requirements:

Applications must contain one or more claims to a product or process that mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This Program Is Open To:

•Non-continuing original utility nonprovisional applications; and 

•Original utility nonprovisional applications that claim the benefit of the filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) of only one prior application that is either a nonprovisional application or an international application designating the United States.

Note: Claiming the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of one or more prior provisional applications or claiming a right of foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or (f) to one or more foreign applications will not affect eligibility for this pilot program.

The application or national stage entry must be electronically filed using the Patent Center, and the specification, claims, and abstract must be submitted in DOCX format.

Applicants must file the petition to make special with the application or entry into the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 or within 30 days of the filing date or entry date of the application. The fee for the petition to make special under 37 CFR 1.102(d) has been waived for this program.

Petition Filing Limitations: 

Applicants may not file a petition to participate in this pilot program if the inventor or any joint inventor has been named on more than four other nonprovisional applications in which a petition to make special under this program has been filed.

All other requirements and conditions of this program are provided in the 2022 Federal Register notice for the program.

Silvia Salvadori, PhD Silvia Salvadori, PhD
Salvadori Law
Silvia@salvdorilaw.com
Please contact me at silvia@salvadorilaw.com with questions or comments.
11Oct 2022

{4 minutes to read}  In a recent case, the Federal Circuit upheld the USPTO’s interpretation of the Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) statute that limits the availability of PTA for time spent appealing an Examiner’s rejections only. 

The portion of the PTA statute at issue says:

[I]  the issue of an original patent is delayed due to . . .

(iii) Appellate review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or by a Federal court in a case in which the patent was issued under a decision under review reversing an adverse determination of patentability, the term of the patent shall be extended 1 day for each day of the pendency of the proceeding, order, or review, as the case may be.

PTA for this type of delay is referred to as “Type C” PTA.

The Courts analyzed two issued patents. The District Court held that the “…unambiguous language imposes two requirements: that an adverse determination of patentability be reversed, and that the application reviewed in that appeal issues as a patent as a result of that reversal.” Applying this interpretation to the prosecution history of the patents at issue, the district court held that no Type C PTA was due.

The Federal Circuit generally agreed with the District Court’s interpretation of the PTA statute as being in accordance with its “unambiguous language.” Thus, the Federal Circuit only reviewed the record to assess whether the “two requirements” for Type C delay were met:

1. Was an adverse determination of patentability reversed?

2. Did the application issue a patent as a result of that reversal?

Concerning the first patent, the court acknowledged that the Board held one of the claims unpatentable, but for reasons different than those discussed by the examiner during prosecution. According to the Federal Circuit, what matters for Type C PTA is that “[t]he adverse determination of unpatentability remained before and after the appeal.”

The Federal Circuit also agreed with the District Court’s second reason for denying PTA — The statutory requirement was not met because the claim that was ultimately issued differed substantively from the claim under review.

Turning to the second patent, the Federal Circuit again rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and reiterated that the PTA statute requires reversal of “an adverse determination of patentability,” not just a reversal of individual rejection(s). Even though the District Court reversed the anticipation rejection of claim 1, the claim remained unpatentable after the appeal because of the pending obviousness-type double patenting rejection. Thus, the first prong of the Type C PTA test was not met.

The Federal Circuit also found the second patent to fail the second prong of the Type C PTA test, because “[t]he patent, as issued, did not include the claim as appealed.” Rather, as noted above, the plaintiff canceled the claim and obtained claims based on a different claim set.

According to this decision, for a Type C PTA to be available, it is not sufficient to obtain reversal of specific rejections; a claim that was unpatentable before the appeal must be patentable after the appeal, and the claim that ultimately grants must not differ substantively from the claim on appeal. This suggests that applicants should consider structuring their appeals such that reversal of the appealed rejections will result in the allowability of at least some claims.

Silvia Salvadori, PhD Silvia Salvadori, PhD
Salvadori Law
Silvia@salvdorilaw.com
Please contact me at silvia@salvadorilaw.com with questions or comments.