Patentees have long been able to file patent applications online. The old process was so much more complicated that hard copy filing however, that it was completely ignored by most inventors and law firms. In an effort to encourage online patent filing, the Patent Office has just introduced the new electronic filing system ( EFS-Web). According to the Patent Office, the new system offers online filers several advantages. EFS-Web works in conjunction with filers’ existing software provides for submission of documents using PDF files. The EFS-Web system also allows staff to file documents prepared and reviewed by patent attorneys. Patent filers can also now pay filing fees online.
While the new EFS-Web system will come as welcome news to patent attorneys, the system is probably still too complex and time consuming for individual or “one-time” filers. As before, the Patent Office still recommends individual inventors still seek the advice of a patent attorney for the preparation and filing of patent applications. Individual inventors will still see benefits of the new system in the form of quicker filings, earlier priority dates and more rapid access to their applications. Online EFS-Web patent filings are rapidly accessible through the existing Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system, allowing inventors and patent attorneys to confirm the accuracy and completeness of filings. EFS-Web also provides filers with an automatic electronic receipt.