Electronic Filing of Patents
A patent application may be filed electronically with the U.S.PTO. The electronic filing system was revamped in March 2006 to make the electronic filing process simpler and more robust. To file the patent application, the patent applicant or patent attorney can upload the completed and signed PDF forms provided by the U.S.PTO onto the electronic filing section of the U.S.PTO website. The patent applicant can also pay the required filing fees under this system using either a credit card or a U.S.PTO deposit account. The U.S.PTO offers this e-filing provision for both registered and unregistered users. However, registered e-filers have more options open to them, such as filing of certain documents and payment of fees for existing patent applications.
  A benefit of electronic filing of patent applications is that the system offers a lower filing fee as opposed to that of a manual paper filing. For example, the basic filing fee, search and examination fee for an e-filed application for a small entity is $462 compared to a fee of $545 for a manual, paper filing of the same application. In addition to the filing fee advantage, the applicant cuts printing and postage costs when choosing to electronically file a patent application. Another advantage is that the turnaround rate is much faster. Patent applications filed electronically move faster through the initial examination process than that of manual or paper filings. The applicant is provided with a patent application number and date of receipt immediately on completion of the filing process. In addition, the applicant is provided an e-filing acknowledgment receipt as proof of the electronic filing of the patent application. For a manual, paper filing, the U.S.PTO would need to send the acknowledgment receipt with the patent application number and date of receipt to the applicant's correspondence address.

The electronic filing system to file a patent application may be accessed athttp://www.uspto.gov/ebc/efs_help.html. The U.S.PTO offers full technical support to patent applicants who wish to file a patent application electronically at 866-217-9197 from 6 a.m. to 12 Midnight Eastern Time, Monday – Friday.


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