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Patent Office Launches Electronic Filing Prototype

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is testing a new system to replace its standard paper processing of patent applications with electronic processing. The prototype will include front-end administrative processing of selected new applications, as well as processing and examination of pending applications in three art units that handle biotech and semiconductor inventions.

The electronic image-based processing system being used in the prototype was designed with core software developed by the European Patent Office. USPTO will incorporate the experience and lessons learned from this prototype into a production system for all patent applications.

"This prototype is a major component of the agencys 21st Century Strategic Plan and efforts to efficiently deliver high quality products through implementing electronic patent processing by the end of 2004," said James E. Rogan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.

In June, Rogan set a goal for the USPTO to deliver a an electronic processing system by Oct. 1, 2004. At the same time, he announced partnership contracts to develop the electronic filing system with Aspen Grove, AutoDocs, First to File, LegalStar and LexisNexis. The plan is expected to save the USPTO more than $500 million over five years.