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Archived updates for Thursday, September 01, 2005

USPTO Seeks Comments on Trilateral Document Sharing

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently considering whether and to what extent documents contained in the files of published foreign patent applications may be entered by Examiners into the official record in U.S. patent application files. Comments regarding this matter may be directed to Mark Powell, Technology Center director, at or Jay Lucas, Sr. Legal Advisor-Automation, at

For a number of years, the USPTO, European Patent Office and Japan Patent Office (Trilateral Offices) have been considering ways to maximize the mutal exploitation of search results. Together, the Trilateral Offices represent nearly 90% of all patent applications filed in the world, illustrating the dramatic potential for workload reduction in the USPTO through effective work sharing.

As part of this ongoing cooperation, the Trilateral offices have established a trilateral document access (TDA) standard by which any one office may access electronic files of published applications in the other two offices. One of the main benefits of TDA over currently available published application sources (e.g. public PAIR) is a common interface standard, by which examiners in each office can view the file contents of a published application in one of the other two offices in the examiner's own native viewing format, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

Examiner usage of TDA is limited to viewing and printing application documents from the published files of the other Trilateral Offices. The proposal would expand TDA usage to permit examiners to import certain published documents from the files of a "donor" office into the application file of the "recipient" office, becoming part of that file. Likewise, examiners from the other Trilateral Offices similarly will be able to import documents from the USPTO file of published applications.

It is proposed that TDA importation be limited to the following documents:
  • Application As Filed (Request, Claims, Description, Drawings, etc)
  • List of cited references
  • available reference copies in the file
  • Search report (without examiner comments or arguments), and
  • Appropriate translations, when available.
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