The biggest invention news this week has not been American Inventor but an update to the way patent applications are filed. While we’ve been participating in the beta testing program for months now, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) has officially released the new electronic filing system (EFS-Web) that will allow applicants to file over the Internet.

The new system offers a number of advantages including patent applicants can file applications and related documents using the Internet without the need for specialized software. Users of PASAT (or attempted users, as the case may be) will certainly cheer over this. And no, not that one. In the new system, applicants submit documents by simply creating applications and related parts as normal, converting these to PDF files and then uploading the PDF files directly over the web. If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, you can use other PDF creators, e.g., CutePDF (we just love it for the name). Patent fees can also be paid over the Internet using a credit card.

EFS-Web submissions are automatically processed through the USPTO so patent filers receive rapid access to their applications through the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. In my experience with using the system, I found that I can view submissions and confirm that documents have been securely and accurately received almost instantaneously. Most importantly, you receive an automatic electronic filing receipt immediately upon uploading – no more return postcards to get lost!

The PTO is planning to add additional functionalities over the coming months but we already think this is a giant step for Mankind.

For more information on EFS-Web, see here.

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