“S-signatures” have been accepted by the USPTO for several years now. An S-signature is an electronic signature betwen forward slashes and includes any signature made by non-handwritten means (i.e. electronic or mechanical). See MPEP 502.02 and 37 CFR 1.4(d)(2). This type of signature was part of the changes made in the USPTO to support the implementation of its 21st Century Strategic Plan and makes using the USPTO’s EFS-Web far more efficient and secure.
There is no one acceptable form of an S-signature. Rather, so long as the requirements for S-signatures are satisfied, almost any S-signature will be accepted by the USPTO.
37 CFR 1.4(d)(2) sets forth the following four requirements for a valid S-signature:
- It must consist of only letters and/or Arabic numbers, along with appropriate spaces, commas, periods, apostrophes, or hyphens for punctuation;
- It must be placed between forward slashes;
- The person signing must insert his or her own signature; and
- The name of the person signing must be printed or typed immediately adjacent to the S-signature, and be reasonably specific, so the identity of the signer can be readily recognized. In addition, the S-signature of a registered patent practitioner must be accompanied by a registration number.
This Rule places restrictions on the form of the S-signature. It does not restrict content, however. Consequently, a wide variety of s-signature formats are acceptable. In fact, the USPTO instructs employees who review S-signatures not to reject or refuse correspondence based on the content of the S-signature so long as it complies with the broad criteria set forth above.
Example 1 – An S-signature for a pro se applicant
Example 2 – An S-signature for registered practitioner
By: /John Smith/
Reg. No. 01234
Example 3 – An S-signature for registered practitioner
By: /John Smith, #01234/
Other examples of acceptable (and unacceptable) S-signatures can be found here.
© 2010, Michael E. Kondoudis
The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney