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Starting January 17, 2024, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) will begin assessing a surcharge of $400 (large entity)/$160 (small entity)/$80 (micro entity) for electronically filing certain 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. To assist us in continuing to provide you with the most cost-effective US patent application filing service, we are providing the below information to guide you in providing us with properly formatted patent applications.

The DOCX format requirement applies to new utility non-provisional applications, Paris Convention conversion applications, continuation applications, and divisional applications. This includes applications filed in non-English languages. The specification, claims, and abstract of these applications must all be filed in DOCX format.
Provisional patent applications, PCT National Stage application filings, design patent applications, and plant patent applications may be filed in PDF format without incurring the surcharge. However, such applications may be filed in DOCX format, if desired.

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.

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.

Applications must meet the following requirements:

  • The Specification, Claims, and Abstract must all begin on separate pages
  • No macros may be included in the application document
  • Pages must 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 may be used, preferably in 12-point size. (See full list here)

We will check DOCX applications provided to us for errors using the USPTO upload tool. If we must substantively correct an application filed in DOCX format based on errors detected by the USPTO during the validation process, we will invoice for the time spent reviewing and/or correcting the application.
If we receive only a PDF copy of the application, our default will be to file the application in PDF format and pay the non-DOCX surcharge, absent instructions from you to the contrary. If we receive both PDF and Word versions, our default will be to file the application in DOCX format and file the PDF as an auxiliary copy (there is no fee for filing a PDF auxiliary copy of the application and the PDF auxiliary copy does not count against the page limit), absent instructions from you to the contrary. If, on the other hand, we receive only a Word version of the application, our default will also be to file the application in DOCX format and file a PDF which we will generate as an auxiliary copy.

If we receive an application which must be filed in a foreign language due to an upcoming deadline, we will file the application in PDF format and pay the non-DOCX surcharge (as well as the late English translation surcharge). The USPTO is not recommending that foreign language applications be filed in DOCX (despite the non-DOCX surcharge for filing in PDF).

Our present recommendation is to file applications in DOCX format in part because there is no fee for filing a PDF auxiliary copy of the application and the PDF auxiliary copy does not count against the page limit.
However, we will follow your indicated preference for DOCX or PDF filing. Note that we intend to reevaluate the issue on an ongoing basis as more applications are filed in DOCX format. Should our recommendations change, we will inform you.

You can read more about the USPTO’s DOCX program here.

For previous updates please click here.

If you have any questions about the USPTO’s formatting and DOCX requirements, please email us at and we will be happy to help in any way we can. As always, we appreciate being your trusted partner for filing patent applications.

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