United States: USPTO eMod Project To Improve E- Filing/Managing Patent Applications

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is implementing eCommerce Modernization (eMod), as discussed at a Patent Quality Chat webinar on May 9, 2017 (click here for the webinar slides). Highlighted features and the status of the eMod project are described below.

Patent Center

The eMod project will provide a new interface, Patent Center, that combines EFS-Web and PAIR into a single interface for filing and managing patent applications. Benefits of Patent Center include an improved interface and improved processes for submitting, reviewing, and managing patent applications and increased application processing and publication accuracy. The Patent Center aims to be more efficient and have more functionality and features than EFS-Web and PAIR, including:

  • A new document upload feature that allows a user to drag and drop files and upload multiple documents at the same time.
  • Intuitive document codes/descriptions where a tool will identify words from a document to decide a code, though a user can change the selected code.
  • DOCX/XML features that allow Applicants to submit and receive from the USPTO structured text (DOCX or XML).
  • The ability to save submissions at any time during a process.

Other Patent Center features still in development include:

  • A new authentication system in which each user will have one account with one sign in to access different features of the USPTO website at the same time. A non-registered assistant thus can have one account that can be connected to multiple registered attorneys or agents.
  • Role-based access in which a user may only have access to certain features depending on role (e.g., paralegal or attorney).
  • Customizable views in which a user can decide what to view in Patent Center.
  • Web ADS, which will include autofill fields from previous applications, an interactive navigation menu that allows a user to move around a form and add up to 10 registration numbers which will bring up the associated names, and ability to preview the ADS pdf at any time.
  • Document indexing which provides type-ahead functionality (only type first few letters), an intuitive on-screen document description list, and an auto-index based on document headers and file names.

eMod Text Pilot Program

On August 15, 2016, the USPTO launched the eMod Text Pilot Program for Pilot participants to use new features that will be incorporated into Patent Center. Participants can download specifications, claims, and abstracts for non-provisional utility applications as structured text (DOCX or XML), in addition to pdfs, and receive structured text Office Actions. Participants can access these features through EFS-Web and Private PAIR.

In the future, users will be able to download other documents such as responses in structured text. The USPTO will incorporate other updates based on user feedback.

The eMod Text Pilot Program will continue until August 2017, and users can still register to participate. Users can also email the USPTO with any questions about this program.

Planned Schedule

After the eMod Text Pilot Program ends in August 2017, the USPTO's planned schedule for the eMod Project is as follows:

  • August 2017: The structured text features of the eMod Text Pilot Program will be open to all EFS-Web registered filers via EFS-Web and PAIR.
  • September 2017: The eMod Text Pilot participants will have access to the eMod Patent Center Alpha Release. The USPTO will limit filings to utility, provisional, international, and design applications and any follow-on submissions. Patent Center will have limited functionality but the legacy tools will still be available for other functionalities.
  • Early 2018: The eMod Patent Center Beta Release, available to all users who register, will have a unified user interface and include updates from the eMod Text Pilot Program and the Alpha Release, and key functions of EFS-Web and PAIR.

Future USPTO Plans/Public Involvement

Future plans for the eMod project include releasing Patent Center to the public for filing and managing patent applications, and after a transition period retiring EFS-Web and PAIR. The USPTO will inform users of the schedule for these plans via outreach events and Patents Alerts.

The USPTO also plans on working with stakeholders to understand business needs, conducting outreach to inform stakeholders and gather user feedback, and continue to improve Patent Center based on user feedback.

The public can get involved with the eMod project by receiving updates from the USPTO website, attending information sessions, providing feedback via focus or user sessions, or the patent quality chat mailbox, and using Idea Scale to provide feedback, read other users' ideas, make comments, and vote on ideas.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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