* USPTO Unilaterally Enacts $400 ‘Microsoft Tax’ On Patent Applications

This Is Our “17 Seconds” Newsletter #117: 17 Seconds = Useful Info Quickly.

I have seen some ill-conceived policies rolled out by the USPTO in my time, but the requirement that patent applications be submitted in Microsoft’s proprietary DOCX format is one of the worst.

When I became a patent attorney in 1995, patents were filed in paper, filing receipts were postcards. Clocktower sent/received our last postcard in 2007.

Around 2007, Clocktower started filing patents electronically as image PDFs. The USPTO then OCRed the image PDFs into renderable text. This lasted until around 2010, when PDFs with renderable text were allowed to be filed. PDFs may not be perfect, but multiple applications produce accurate PDFs of the source documents.

Then the USPTO got in bed with Microsoft.

On 2024-01-17, the USPTO enacted a $400 Microsoft tax for those with the temerity not to file patents in the DOCX format (https://www.uspto.gov/patents/docx).

Clocktower will not be bullied into using a buggy proprietary file format from a monopolistic tech giant that has no commitment to open source standards (such as the ODT format used by the OpenOffice.org project). We will continue to work to minimize our time on make-work projects that increase costs for our clients.

For more on Clocktower’s commitment to open source, see the “Open Source” category on our website (https://www.clocktowerlaw.com/category/open-source) and on Erik’s blog (https://www.giantpeople.com/category/open-source).

For more on the DOCX debacle, see the “Non-DOCX Penalty” category on Carl Oppedahl’s “Ant-Like Persistence” blog (https://blog.oppedahl.com/category/patents/non-docx-penalty/).

And, I don’t know, write to your representatives in Congress or something.

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