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IP Alert: USPTO Revises Electronic Signature Rule in Patent Correspondence

March 22, 2024

The USPTO has revised the electronic signature rule. Effective March 22, 2024, patent correspondence signed using third-party document-signing software, such as DocuSign® and Acrobat® Sign, may be accepted under newly added 37 CFR §1.4(d)(4). To be acceptable, the software must be designed to generate the electronic signature and preserve signature date for later inspection. The software must also indicate that the page/form was generated or electronically signed using the document-signing software. The USPTO recommends that the software generate the date the signature was applied.

In addition to being signed by a proper person (e.g., §1.33(b)), the submission must be personally signed by the individual identified in the Signer Name field. The electronic signatures under §1.4(d)(4) do not require the forward slashes (“/”), which are required for “S-signatures” (§1.4(d)(2)). Further, the signature block under §1.4(d)(4) must have the name of the person who signed the document presented in printed or typed form immediately below or adjacent to the electronic signature.

If the signer is a patent practitioner, their registration number must be supplied either as part of the signature or immediately below or adjacent to the signature. Moreover, if the signer is a design patent practitioner, the design patent practitioner status must be indicated by placing the word “design” (in any format) adjacent to the signature.

For more information, please contact Fitch Even attorney Jennifer V. Suarez, author of this alert.

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