This just in from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:
The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today the implementation of the e-Office Action program following a successful pilot project. Under the program, patent applicants receive an e-mail notification of office communications instead of paper mailings. An e-mail is sent to program participants when new office communications are available for viewing and downloading in Private PAIR, the patent application information retrieval system that allows applicants electronic access to the entire file history of their applications.
The e-Office Action program minimizes the possibility of lost or delayed postal mail and makes it faster and more efficient for participants to process and docket USPTO communications in electronic format, thus reducing processing costs. During the pilot, participants were able to retrieve office communications several days faster than postal mail. Participants in the pilot program have also suggested several enhancements to the system which will be under consideration for future implementation as the IT infrastructure is strengthened.
Participation in the e-Office Action program is optional and open to any registered attorney or agent of record, or pro se inventor who is a named inventor, in a patent application associated with a customer number. Program participants also will have the flexibility to opt-out of the e-Office Action program at any time and return to receiving office communications through the postal mail.
The program includes provisional applications and non-provisional applications including utility, plant, design, and reissue applications and national stage applications. International applications, reexamination proceedings, and interference proceedings are not included in the program.
Full requirements for e-Office Action program participation, training, and other program resource information are available at www.uspto.gov/eoa. For specific questions or suggestions about e-Office Action, contact the Patent Electronic Business Center (EBC) Customer Service Center at 866-217-9197 (toll-free) or 571-272-4100 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.