The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is increasing the availability of its patent electronic filing system, Electronic Filing System—Web (EFS-Web) by providing a new contingency option when the primary portal to EFS-Web has an unscheduled outage. Previously, the entire EFS-Web system is not available to the users during such an outage. The contingency option in EFS-Web will permit users to sign-on as unregistered EFS-Web users to file new applications, national stage submissions under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage, requests for reexamination, and certain petitions, during an unscheduled outage of the primary portal to EFS-Web.

EFS-Web Contingency Option

Effective immediately, the USPTO will provide EFS-Web Contingency Option to users to file new applications, national stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371, requests for reexamination, and certain petitions when the primary portal to EFS-Web is unavailable during an unscheduled outage. The USPTO will post a notification of any unscheduled outage of the primary portal to EFS-Web and provide the link to EFS-Web Contingency Option on the EFS-Web Internet page. The EFS-Web Contingency Option will have the same functionality as EFS-Web for unregistered e-filers.

It will permit users to sign on as unregistered EFS-Web users to file new applications, national stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371 submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage, requests for reexamination, and certain petitions. However, other follow-on documents and fee payments filed after the initial submission of the application or reexamination request (e.g., amendments and replies to Office actions) cannot be filed using EFS-Web Contingency Option.

Specifically, EFS-Web Contingency Option will only permit users to electronically file the following items as unregistered EFS-Web users:

  1. Provisional patent applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(b);
  2. Nonprovisional utility patent applications under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) (including reissue utility patent applications);
  3. Nonprovisional design patent applications under 35 U.S.C. 171 (including reissue design patent applications);
  4. International applications under PCT Article 11 for filing in the United States Receiving Office;
  5. National stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371 submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage;
  6. Requests for ex parte reexamination under 35 U.S.C. 302 for utility or design patents;
  7. Requests for inter partes reexamination under 35 U.S.C. 311 for utility or design patents;
  8. Petitions to make special based on age under 37 CFR 1.102(c) when filed as an e-petition using the EFS-Web SB130 form, for the automatic processing of the e-petition (for more information see here);
  9. Petitions to accept an unintentionally delayed payment of maintenance fee under 37 CFR 1.378(c) when filed as an e-petition using the EFS-Web SB66 form, for the automatic processing of the e-petition (for more information see here); and
  10. Petition to make special under the accelerated examination program (must be filed with a nonprovisional utility patent application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a)).

Documents filed via EFS-Web Contingency Option as part of the submissions listed above must meet the same file format requirements established for EFS-Web, e.g., file size and PDF embedded-font requirements. The same file validation performed in EFS-Web will be performed in EFS-Web Contingency Option. Similar to EFS-Web, EFS-Web Contingency Option will provide an Electronic Acknowledgement Receipt that establishes the date of receipt by the USPTO of an application or document submitted via EFS-Web Contingency Option. .

When the primary portal to EFS-Web is unavailable during an unscheduled outage, applicants may also file new applications, national stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371 submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage, and reexamination requests, by hand-delivery to the USPTO, or ‘‘Express Mail’’ from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in accordance with 37 CFR 1.10, to establish the filing date or national stage entry date. See Revised Legal Framework for EFS-Web. New applications, national stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371 submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage, and reexamination requests cannot be submitted by facsimile transmission, and certificate of mailing procedures under 37 CFR 1.8 do not apply to these items.

The EFS-Web Contingency Option does not permit follow-on fee payments and follow-on documents other than those listed above. Applicants may file the documents or fee payments by: (1) Facsimile transmission, (2) first class mail with a certificate of mailing in accordance with 37 CFR 1.8, (3) hand- delivery to the USPTO, or (4) ‘‘Express Mail’’ from USPS in accordance with 37 CFR 1.10. Documents that are required to establish the filing date of an application (e.g., a missing drawing figure or page of the specification) cannot be submitted by facsimile transmission, and certificate of mailing procedures under 37 CFR 1.8 do not apply to these documents.

Improperly Filed Follow-on Documents

As previously stated, EFS-Web Contingency Option and EFS-Web for unregistered e-filers permit users to sign on as unregistered EFS-Web users to file new applications, national stage submissions under 35 U.S.C. 371 submitted with the basic national fee necessary to enter the national stage, requests for reexamination and certain petitions. Unfortunately, EFS-Web Contingency and EFS-Web for unregistered e-filers have limited functionality, which do not permit users to file other follow-on documents and follow-on fee payments after the initial submission of the application or reexamination request (e.g., amendments and replies to Office actions). Accordingly, it will be improper for users to file follow-on documents as new applications.

See all the details in the USPTO Notice here.

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