As part of its plan to modernize the U.S. intellectual property registration system, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plans to stop issuing patent and trademark certificates in hard copy format. In a recent blog post, USPTO Director Drew Hirshfeld announced that the USPTO will soon publish a proposed rule to eliminate the USPTO’s regulatory obligation to mail a paper copy of the patent to the correspondence address of record.
The USPTO expects the new rule to speed up patent grants by reducing the time required for publication. Under the new rule, patents will issue electronically within one week after the patent number is assigned.
The USPTO’s trademark regulations do not require the USPTO to mail trademark registrations in hard copy form. Nonetheless, the USPTO plans to issue a notice and seek public comment on this procedural change before applying it to trademarks, too.
When the new rule takes effect, patent applicants who plan to file a continuation application before a patent grants will need to take extra care, as less time will be available between the issue fee payment date and the patent grant date. As a best practice, applicants should try to file the continuation before they pay the issue fee, as they will lose the opportunity to file a continuation when the patent grants.
The USPTO’s announcement indicated that hard copies of patents and trademarks, with an embossed gold seal and the Director’s signature, will still available to registrants who request them and pay an extra fee.