A Discussion About S-Signatures With Examples

March 31, 2010

in News,Practice Suggestions,Useful Information

Introduction

“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.

The Rules

37 CFR 1.4(d)(2) sets forth the following four requirements for a valid S-signature:

  1. It must consist of only letters and/or Arabic numbers, along with appropriate spaces, commas, periods, apostrophes, or hyphens for punctuation;
  2. It must be placed between forward slashes;
  3. The person signing must insert his or her own signature; and
  4. 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.

Examples

Example 1 – An S-signature for a pro se applicant

Respectfully submitted,

/John Smith/
John Smith

Example 2 – An S-signature for registered practitioner

Respectfully submitted,

By: /John Smith/
John Smith
Reg. No. 01234

Example 3 – An S-signature for registered practitioner

Respectfully submitted,

By: /John Smith, #01234/
John Smith

Other examples of acceptable (and unacceptable) S-signatures can be found here.

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© 2010, Michael E. Kondoudis

The Law Office of Michael E. Kondoudis
DC Patent Attorney
www.mekiplaw.com

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Brown March 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm

There’s a major problem with the example sheet you link to, and, actually, with the examples you give, too. All of the “proper” signatures on the sheet are a full name (First I. Last), which has led some examiners and clerks at the PTO to decide that the rules somehow require a full name to be a proper signature.

That’s simply not true – as long as you follow the rules you posted – the characters listed in section 1 between slashes as in section 2 – ANYTHING can be an s-signature. In fact, it makes sense not to use your full name, since anyone could enter that, but an arbitrary character string is identifiably yours.

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