USPTO Transitions to Electronic Patent Grants, Tightening Important Post-Allowance Timeframes

March 29, 2023

The end of patent grants issued on paper is here. According to a Final Rule published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on February 28, 2023, patent grants will no longer be issued on paper and instead be transmitted to grantees as Electronic Patent Grants (eGrants). While patent owners can still obtain a certified cover page or ceremonial paper copy of their patent for a fee upon request, the change has substantive impacts on applicants beyond the lack of a suitable-for-framing patent grant.

Currently, the USPTO issues “letters patent” as paper patents under the seal of the USPTO. This usually occurs several weeks after an applicant receives a Notice of Allowance, pays the required Issue Fee, and receives an Issue Notification.

Beginning on April 18, 2023, the USPTO will issue patents electronically under a new digital USPTO seal bearing the USPTO Director’s digital seal. This electronic patent grant will constitute the official statutory patent grant. Each patent, including the cover sheet, front page, drawings, specification, and claims, will be available to applicants and the public via the office’s Patent Center upon patent issuance.

The switch to eGrants means applicants will have access to their patent earlier rather than waiting for their paper patent to arrive by mail. Specifically, the USPTO will now issue a patent within one to two days after payment of the Issue Fee rather than two to three weeks later, as is the case now. As a result, applicants will have significantly less time after paying the fee to file a continuation, continuation-in-part or divisional application, Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement, or petition to withdraw an application from issue.

Accordingly, patent applicants need to have their post-allowance ducks in a row when they receive a Notice of Allowance and pay the Issue Fee. If you have a pending application and want to know more about the switch from paper to electronic patent grants and how it will impact your patent, please contact Brent Nix at Johnson, Marcou, Isaacs & Nix, LLC.