Intellectual Property Law Knowledge Center

USPTO Announces DOCX Requirement for Certain Patent Applications

October 28th, 2021

By Stephen E. Murray and Sandra M. Katz

Starting January 1, 2022, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPUSPTO-Announces-DOCX-Requirement-for-Certain-Patent-ApplicationsTO”) will begin requiring that certain patent applications be filed electronically in “DOCX” format to increase efficiency and accuracy during the examination process.  At the same time, the USPTO will begin assessing a surcharge of up to $400 for electronically filing these patent applications in PDF format.  This surcharge is designed to encourage applicants to file using the DOCX format supported by Microsoft Word 2007 and higher, Google Docs, and other popular word processing applications.  Below is some important information to know about that transition:

WHICH APPLICATIONS MUST BE FILED IN DOCX?

New utility non-provisional applications, Paris Convention conversion applications, continuation applications, and divisional applications must be filed in DOCX format.  This includes applications filed in non-English languages.  The specification, claims, and abstract of these applications must all be filed in DOCX format.

ARE THERE APPLICATIONS WHERE DOCX IS NOT REQUIRED?

Provisional patent applications, PCT National Stage application filings, design patent applications, and plant patent applications do not need to be in DOCX format.

IS DOCX SECURE?

Yes, the DOCX format is secure. Any metadata found in the application during the validation process during application upload will be automatically removed by the USPTO prior to submission.

WILL CHEMICAL STRUCTURES, MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS, AND SYMBOLS BE UPLOADED CORRECTLY?

Yes. DOCX fully supports equation editing software (e.g., MathML), and chemical structure editing software (e.g., ChemDraw).  When using an approved font (see below), the USPTO has determined through extensive testing that DOCX documents filed through its system should exhibit high fidelity, no errors, and correct rendering.

ARE THERE SPECIFIC FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS THE APPLICATION TEXT?

Applications must should adhere to the following requirements:

  • The Specification, Claims, and Abstract must all begin on separate pages
  • No macros may be included in the application document
  • Pages should be numbered consecutively, with page numbers located centrally below the text
  • The specification lines of text must be 1.5 or double-spaced
  • Paper size must be A4 or 8½ inches x 11 inches
  • The top, bottom, and right margins must be at least 2 cm (3/4 inch), and the left margin must be at least 2.5 cm (1 inch)
  • The text must be formed in a single column
  • Any tables in the text must maintain column and row alignment
  • Only approved fonts (including Arial, Courier New, and Times New Roman – see full list below) may be used, preferably in 12 point size: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/DOCX%20Supported%20Font%20List%20_4_15_20.pdf)

DOES THE USPTO HAVE ADDITIONAL MATERIAL WE CAN REVIEW?

You can read more about the USPTO’s DOCX program here: https://www.uspto.gov/patents/docx.

If you have any questions about the USPTO’s formatting and DOCX requirements, please contact us at (215) 965-1330.

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