The problem with USPTO’s proposed non-DOCX penalty

(Update:  it is time for you, dear reader to consider signing another letter.  See blog posting.)

Until now, it has been optional for a practitioner to file a US patent application in DOCX format rather than in PDF format.  But USPTO now proposes to charge a $400 penalty for filing a patent application in non-DOCX format.  This is a very bad idea, for reasons that I will discuss in detail.  Only if USPTO were to make fundamental changes in its way of receiving DOCX files would it be acceptable for USPTO to impose a penalty for filing in a non-DOCX format.

USPTO needs to follow WIPO’s example, permitting the practitioner to file a “pre-conversion format” version of a patent application along with the DOCX file.  In the event of some later problem with USPTO’s rendering of the DOCX file, the practitioner would be permitted to point to the pre-conversion format, which would control in the event of any discrepancy.

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A new Best Practice – reporting docx

A year ago or so, the USPTO started a beta-test of its system in which docx files play an important role.  In the best-test system, an applicant was permitted to file a patent application in docx format rather than PDF format.  Likewise, the applicant had the opportunity to receive some documents from the USPTO in docx format in addition to PDF format.  Our firm was among the beta-testers of this docx system.

Now, as of September 10, 2017, these features have been made available to all USPTO customers (not merely the beta-test users).  This offers a new Best Practice for reporting to clients.

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