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Archived updates for Friday, August 26, 2005

USPTO Reminds Applicants to Remove Personal Information from Filings

According to Tom Ramstack writing for the Wshington Time on August 23, 2005, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records allow nearly unlimited access to the Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers of hundreds of individual inventors who petition to reclaim their patent rights each year.

In response to a lawsuit filed by David Brown, who noticed the identity-theft vulnerability when he petitoined to reinstate one of his patents in 2003, the Office agreed to publish Privacy Act statements on patent forms telling inventors their personal information could be disclosed in public records. The following an advisory appeared on Aug. 10 at http://www.uspto.gov

To Our USPTO Customers:

When filing documentation in support of applications or petitions, please take steps to protect all personal information. “Personal information” includes social security, credit card and banking account numbers. This type of personal data is never required by the USPTO to support a petition or application.

To protect your privacy, we suggest that you delete such information from any documentation you send the office. Alternatively, you may request that the submissions be kept out of the public file, if appropriate. (See MPEP
Sections 724. 02 to 724.06
.)

Please remember that all patent application files are published and made available to the public 18 months from the filing date, unless a non-publication request is made in the application. Additionally, all patented application files will become available to the public upon the grant of the patent.

If you have questions about what information may be published and how to remove the material from documents you plan to submit to the USPTO, please call the Inventors Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 or 571-272-1000 TTY: 571-272-9950.

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