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  • Writer's pictureTautz & Schuhmacher Patentanwälte

U.S. moves towards electronic patent grant

After 232 years of issuing patents in print [1], the USPTO will switch to solely issuing electronic patent grants on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 [2]. The electronic copy will constitute the official statutory patent grant. A stated goal of the transition to electronic copies is the reduction of application pendency by accelerating the issuance of patents after payment of the issue fee. The electronic copies are expected to issue two weeks earlier than the traditional paper copies. The electronic issuance is intended to streamline processes and to save costs for the USPTO and Applicants.

The tradition of issuing all patents on a Tuesday, even if the day in question is a Federal Holiday, will be maintained. Certified paper copies of patent applications, which may be required for a patent application filed abroad, will continue to be available from the USPTO for a fee. Likewise, for the time being the USPTO will continue to mail paper copies of certificates of correction. However, planning is underway to also move to the electronic issuance of certificates of correction. Further, the USPTO will no longer issue advanced copies of patents once electronic copies are issued. Nonetheless, patentees and the public may electronically retrieve and print copies of the issued patents through the USPTO’s Patent Center.

A potential pitfall for Applicants is that the accelerated issuance also means that less time is available to file a continuing (i.e., divisional or continuation) application, which must occur no later than the date on which the patent issues. As a practical matter, Tautz & Schuhmacher will continue to strive to file continuing applications no later than the date on which the issue fee is paid, which will exclude the risk of missing the deadline for filing continuing applications.

For a transition period of undetermined length, the USPTO will mail Ceremonial Copies of the granted patents to the correspondence address of record free of charge. The Ceremonial Copies will resemble the traditional paper copies and may be given to an inventor and/or framed for display. Once the transition period expires, Ceremonial Copies will be available for a fee.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Tautz & Schuhmacher IP team.

[1] On July 31, 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilization.



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