I just received a Notice to File Corrected Application Papers telling me that the PDF claims in IFW for my newly filed patent application don’t have the right line spacing. The Notice says that I have to reprint the claims and send them in again. But get this — I filed those claims as a DOCX file — a character-based file. Would you like to make a guess who it is that converted that DOCX file into a PDF file? Yes. It was the USPTO that did the conversion to PDF. Not me. So it’s the USPTO that got the line spacing wrong.
But on top of that, if what I file is a DOCX file, who cares about line spacing? Who cares about margins? It is the USPTO’s idea that somehow it is better if an applicant hands in the claims as characters instead of PDF images. Once the USPTO has characters, the USPTO can print the claims however they wish — single-spaced, double-spaced, wide margins, narrow margins, whatever.
You just can’t make this stuff up. To keep this case from going abandoned, I guess I will have to convert the DOCX file into a new PDF file, doing whatever is needed to increase the line spacing in the rendered PDF to whatever the USPTO wants it to be. And then I will have to upload the new PDF into EFS-Web (or Patentcenter) and then the USPTO won’t use it for anything anyway, because what the USPTO wanted was the DOCX file.
Oh, and you wanna know how the USPTO got the line spacing wrong? I’ll have to dig around to find out for sure, but I suspect it’s because I did not use Microsoft Word to create that DOCX file. USPTO uses a PDF rendering engine that renders Microsoft Word files accurately (at least for some versions of Microsoft Word) but that changes things and gets formatting wrong if the DOCX file was created using a word processor other than Microsoft Word.
But still, no matter what exactly turns out to be the detailed explanation for why the PDF in IFW is 1.49 spaced instead of 1.5 spaced, it absolutely should not matter, for the simple reason that every bit of USPTO workflow in this case is (supposedly, if the USPTO is telling the truth about why it is making us hand in DOCX files) going to be based upon the characters in the DOCX file. The exact formatting of the PDF that is in IFW is thus irrelevant to any later USPTO workflow.