Patent Office Preps to Overhaul Patent Filing Process

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seen in Alexandria, Va.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seen in Alexandria, Va. Alex Brandon/AP

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The public is asked to help the agency determine the best way to give its digital patent application system a large-scale refresh.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office wants to make your experience filing patents as simple as possible.

Later this summer, the office will begin work on one of its newest initiatives, eCommerce Modernization, or eMod, which aims to upgrade the electronic patent application process by modernizing both the filing and viewing systems, according to a notice on its website.

“The purpose is to enrich the user experience by enabling more efficient system integration and expanding system usefulness,” the notice stated.

The announcement comes about five months after Michelle Lee officially assumed the role as USPTO director, and pledged to tackle the office’s more than 500,000 patents sitting in application limbo and also raise the quality of those it issues.

Likely, the revamp will involve improving the user interface and associated documents, as well as helping make the overall patent application process much more user friendly, according to the office website.

EMod is also expected to simplify the patent examiners' job by providing structured text to make communication with applicants easier. It will likely also enhance both the accuracy associated with processing applications and publication data, according to the agency.

The system would replace its current databases, including the public and private Patent Application Information Retrieval systems, and the patent application and documents submission system, EFS-Web.

USPTO plans to begin development at the end of the summer, and will work in stages. The pilot program is scheduled to launch early next summer.

But in the meantime, the office is seeking your input.

USPTO has used the cloud-based software company IdeaScale’s crowdsourcing platform to reach out to the public for feedback on its project plans. Users can submit ideas for additions to eMod, and comment and vote on other ideas.

One key idea it’s considering is whether it will provide its filers with the option of submitting their patent applications in a DocX format.

“We have already started receiving feedback from the IP community and the public, and are incorporating these suggestions into the development process,” USPTO Deputy Director Russ Slifer said in a statement.