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US Patent & Trademark Office is moving to Electronic Patent Grant Certificates

March 1, 2023

The USPTO has announced that it will commence issuing patent certificates only electronically through its electronic patent application filing and management system, Patent Center. This is in line with the USPTO's efforts to achieve fully electronic processing of patent applications[1]. The paper patent issuance process, which involved physically delivering “ribbon copy” patents to the correspondence address of record, will be replaced with the issuance of patents electronically under a new digital USPTO seal and digital signature from the USPTO Director. Patent Center will enable the patentee and the public to view and print the official electronic patent grant immediately upon issuance. To implement electronic patent issuance, the USPTO is removing and reserving 37 CFR 1.315, which refers to the delivery or mailing of the patent upon issuance to the correspondence address of record. 

Under the previous paper patent issuance process, the USPTO mailed the paper patents to the patentee several weeks after the Issue Notification was mailed. On the issue date, the USPTO's Official Gazette publication included the patent number, title of the patent, names and residences of the inventors, the applicant, the assignee (if applicable), the filing and priority dates, the text of the first claim of the patent, the total number of claims in the patent, and a representative figure (if applicable). However, under the new electronic patent issuance process, electronic capture of the information needed to issue a patent will commence shortly after mailing the notice of allowance.

The electronic patent issuance process will result in the reduction of pendency for allowed patent applications, with the patent being available to applicants and the public approximately two weeks sooner. Detailed patent information will continue to be printed in the Official Gazette and made available on the USPTO's website on the issue date. The legal rights granted by the patent can be exercised independently of physical possession of the patent.

Other jurisdictions have implemented similar electronic processing services for their granted patent certificates. For example, in April of 2021, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) launched an electronic patent issuance service, allowing patentees to download their patent documents from a secure repository. The e-issuance process delivers patents under electronic seal and digital signature using Notarius software. Similarly, the EPO formally launched its electronic patent issuance service in April 2022, providing digital color electronically issued certificates for European patents.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) still offers certified copies and presentation copies of patents for a fee, which recipients may request from the certified copy center. In addition, free unlimited copies of eGrants are available for printing on the USPTO's online Patent Center. Trademark owners have already been provided with electronic registration certificates for quite some time. To learn more, please refer to the complete Federal Register Notice or visit the USPTO website's eGrant webpage, where you can find an eGrant FAQ document and additional information.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Trevor K. Copeland
Partner – Chicago
Phone: +1.312.222.8104
Alexis White
Associate – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.919.998.5731

[1] Additionally, the USPTO is considering expanding their electronic processing offerings to issuing electronic reexamination certificates, statutory invention registrations, patent term extension certificates, and certificates of correction.