USPTO published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking some months ago, proposing to hit the filer with a $400 if the filer files a patent application in a format other than Microsoft Word word processor format. (USPTO says “DOCX” but realistically the only way a filer can get USPTO’s system to work accurately is to generate the word processor file with Microsoft Word, and even then, only with Microsoft Word for Windows, in a very recent version of the software.)
I published two comments (here and here) explaining some of the reasons why I feel the USPTO got it wrong on this. And I joined seventy-two other patent practitioners in signing a comment that explored in quite some detail some of the things that USPTO got wrong on this.
I imagine most of us nowadays have started at least trying to e-file in DOCX, just to try to find out how bad it is so that we can get ready for how bad it will be when USPTO starts charging the $400 penalty. And recently I realized that there is a very interesting fact pattern that I am quite confident that no one at the USPTO thought about at all when it promulgated this Rule — the fact pattern where the initial filing is in a non-English language. Continue reading