We don’t list a fax number any more

When I founded our firm a quarter of a century ago, I did some of the things that were absolutely mandatory in those days, for example:

  • Contact Martindale-Hubbell to get the firm listed there
  • Get a postage meter
  • Get a fax machine and connect it with a dedicated land line telephone line

We used to pay a thousand dollars a year for our listing in Martindale-Hubbell, but we dropped that maybe ten years ago.  We got rid of our postage meter, which used to cost us a hundred dollars a month, maybe five years ago.  And now in 2018 we have dropped our public fax number.  Maybe you should, too.  

What happened within the past couple of years is that almost no businesses use land line telephone lines any more.  A traditional land line costs $40 or more per month.  If you migrate to a SIP trunk, your monthly phone bill drops to maybe 85¢ per month (see my blog article about our firm’s migration to SIP trunks).  Pretty much every business, everywhere in the world, has carried out this migration.

Which is fine, except that fax machines were designed in a way that won’t work on SIP trunks (see my blog article about this).

This development, that nowadays one cannot reliably send a fax, especially internationally, led WIPO to announce recently that the IB is considering “the discontinuation of PCT fax services at the IB entirely from the end of 2018.”  What’s more, WIPO already announced that it has discontinued Madrid-related fax services on April 1, 2018.

Recently at OPLF we reviewed all of the faxes that we received in recent months.  We had received maybe twenty faxes in the past few months, every one of which was a junk fax.  Most of the faxes were for driveway resurfacing or discount vacation packages.  Notably, not one of the faxes received in recent months was from a client or foreign associate.

So we deleted the listing of a fax number on our firm’s web site.  We removed it from our letterhead.  We no longer provide a fax number on our business cards.

We then took the somewhat scary step of disconnecting that fax number.  So far as I can see, this will disappoint no one except the providers of driveway resurfacing services and discount vacation packages.  Yes, I worry a little bit that some foreign associate might try to send urgent instructions to us by fax.  But I do not worry very much.

We did pick up a new fax number.  It is, of course, a fax-to-email service.  It cost us nothing (no installation fee or setup fee) to get the new number and the service costs only $2 per month from our SIP trunk provider (see voip.ms).  The new fax number is not published anywhere.  But if some caller (such as a client or foreign associate) were to contact us wishing to send a fax, we will be able to look up the number on our intranet and provide the number to the caller.

Importantly, if the new fax number were to fall into the wrong hands, leading to a new stream of junk faxes, we could very easily cancel that fax number and get a new fax number from our SIP trunk provider.

My best guess is that in the next twelve months, the number of times that a client or foreign associate will contact us wishing to send a fax will turn out to be zero.

Do you still list a fax number on your web site and letterhead and business cards?  If so, why?  Please post a comment below.

7 Replies to “We don’t list a fax number any more”

  1. When I joined the business a few years back – coming from a research background – I insisted on not having my firm’s fax number listed on my business card. Why? Because it signals being stuck in a by-gone era. Among people up into their 30s and 40s, fax machines are objects of outright ridicule these days.

  2. Please explain what you do in lieu of using a postage meter for mailing out issued patents of varying weights in addition to mailing for example, checks for services that cannot be paid online. What if EFS-Web goes down and you have to file a response to an Office Action with a Certificate of First-Class Mail (no fax, or fax not going through), and you don’t want to waste time waiting on line at the post office/the post office is closed? Do you simply always use fixed-price USPS Priority envelopes and have plenty of stamps at hand? Is occasionally overpaying for postage still cheaper then renting a postage meter (which comes with a small discount on postage), paying for ink, etc?

    1. Thank you for posting.

      We have a policy that when we are sending something important, such as a physical patent or physical trademark registration certificate, we send it in a way that must be signed for. This rules out any prospect of putting stamps on an envelope and dropping the item into the mail.

      In cases where US Postal Service is an option, we usually use Click-n-Ship which provides free tracking. With Click-n-Ship we bill the postage to a credit card and we print a label which we affix to the envelope.

      For some destinations, US Postal Service is not an option or is not fast enough. Then we use a private courier such as Federal Express.

      We do keep plain old postage stamps around just in case. Those stamps do not get used very often these days.

      Again thanks.


  3. Our firm are still using fax number because of some special clients. Several Japanese companies will send us messages only via fax mail. Once, we sent an email to our Japanese agency but didn’t receive any reply. Later, we contracted with them by phone and was told they were not handled the case anymore. They provided us with the website of applicant, however, we found except the phone number but fax number, so we had to send them a fax mail. Our partner who masters Japanese and worked in Japan for two years said that the format of Internet in Japan is different from other countries, so it is more often for Japanese to use the fax mail instead of email since sometimes they could not receive the emails successfully. So that is why.:)

  4. 5.13 Petition for license; no corresponding application.
    If no corresponding national, international design, or international application has been filed in the United States, the petition for license under § 5.12(b) must also be accompanied by a legible copy of the material upon which a license is desired. This copy will be retained as a measure of the license granted.

    We had a situation — no corresponding US application, had to FAX petition and related materials for PETITION FOR FOREIGN FILING LICENSE….for material NOT RELATED to any pending application (37 CFR 5.13), may be mailed, faxed, hand-delivered….

    Facsimiles must be sent to: 571 273-0185
    Hand delivery: Room 4B31
    Regular mail: Mail Stop: L&R

    All licenses will be mailed …., however, a courtesy copy may be provided by facsimile if such notification is requested.

    We’re not in DC so our option was FAX or snail mail in situations with no pending US application. Post Office closes too early to be useful.

    Our firm has only granted a few licenses to the FAX software for sending faxes. When EFS is down, it is nice to have the option to fax something, assuming it is the type of document that may be accepted by fax.

    I’ve run into some entities, such as mortgage banks, estate planning attorneys, tax preparers, etc., that won’t accept e-mail communications. It is fax or snail mail.

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