/s/ Signature - how to sign the USPTO form signature

/s/ Signature - how to sign the USPTO form signature

  • 03 April, 2024
  • Nyall Engfield

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires signatures on many of its forms, whether they are related to patent applications, trademark registrations, or other procedural documents. One of the signature formats accepted by the USPTO, particularly in electronic filings, is the "/s/" signature. Understanding the implications, legality, and proper use of the "/s/" signature is crucial for anyone engaging with the USPTO's processes.

Introduction to the "/s/" Signature

The "/s/" signature is a form of electronic signature recognized by the USPTO. It is used to sign documents electronically submitted through the USPTO's various online systems. This signature method involves typing "/s/" followed by the person's name printed below. For example, "/s/" or "/John Doe/" would be a valid electronic signature for an individual named John Doe. This form of signing is derived from federal regulations that allow for electronic signatures on documents submitted to federal agencies, including the USPTO.

As you can see from the instructions below the signature, the signature must be inserted personally by the individual listed below in the Signatory field. The person signing may not enter someone else's signature.

Legal Basis and Acceptance

The acceptance of the "/s/" signature by the USPTO is grounded in the broader legal acceptance of electronic signatures, as outlined in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN Act) and the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA). These laws affirm that electronic signatures carry the same legal weight as traditional handwritten signatures, provided they meet certain criteria for authenticity and integrity. The USPTO’s adoption of the "/s/" signature format is a reflection of its commitment to leveraging technology to streamline processes and make them more accessible.

How to Use the "/s/" Signature

Using the "/s/" signature on USPTO forms is straightforward. When filling out a form electronically, instead of a handwritten signature, the filer types "/s/" followed by their name in the signature field. This signifies that the filer intends the entered name to serve as their legal signature. It's important to ensure that the name typed after "/s/" matches the name of the individual who is authorized to sign the document. Misrepresentation or unauthorized use of the "/s/" signature could lead to legal consequences and impact the validity of the filing.

Just looking at the field, you can see that there are some examples below. So the signature could be anything between two slashes, for example /john doe/ , /jd/ , or /123-4567/. Any of these, or other text between the slashes, would be acceptable. The text cannot, however, contain further slashes - slashes between first and last name would be unacceptable.

Unacceptable: /john/doe/

Implications for Trademark and Patent Filings

For trademark and patent filings, the use of the "/s/" signature simplifies the submission process, making it faster and more efficient. It allows attorneys, agents, and applicants to submit documents without the need for printing, hand-signing, and scanning. This efficiency is particularly beneficial given the USPTO's deadlines and the often time-sensitive nature of intellectual property filings. However, it's crucial that the use of the "/s/" signature is backed by a clear understanding between attorneys and their clients regarding authorization and representation, to avoid any issues of invalidity due to signature discrepancies.

A digital signature with a slash on either side is acceptable for government documents in certain contexts. For instance, in the context of patent office rules and practice, a legible electronic image of a handwritten signature inserted into the correspondence may be considered an acceptable signature if the signature is surrounded by a first single forward slash mark before the electronic image and a second single forward slash mark after the electronic image.

It's important to note that the use of such a signature may be subject to specific requirements and limitations depending on the context and the specific government entity involved. For example, the records custodian, chief records officer, or records liaison officer may request a digital signature for the purpose of submitting approved designation and destruction forms to the state commission of public records

Considerations and Best Practices

While the "/s/" signature streamlines electronic filings, several considerations should be kept in mind:

  • Authorization: Ensure that the person using the "/s/" signature is authorized to sign on behalf of the individual or entity. Unauthorized use could invalidate the document.
  • Consistency: Use the name consistently across filings to avoid confusion or questions about the identity of the signer.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain records of authorization for using the "/s/" signature, especially when used by agents or representatives, to demonstrate consent if ever questioned by the USPTO or in legal proceedings.

The Future of Electronic Signatures at the USPTO

The USPTO's embrace of the "/s/" signature is indicative of a broader move towards digital processes. This transition not only facilitates easier submissions but also aligns with environmental goals by reducing paper use. As technology evolves, we may see further innovations in how electronic signatures are used and authenticated, including potentially more secure and verifiable methods beyond the "/s/" format.

The "/s/" signature represents a modern adaptation of legal processes to the digital age, embodying both the challenges and opportunities presented by electronic filing systems. In all cases, the digital signature should be unique to the person using it, capable of verification, under the sole control of the person using it, and linked to the document in such a manner that if the data are changed, the digital signature is invalidated § DIGITAL SIGNATURE ISSUANCE AND USAGE

Its use by the USPTO is a testament to the legal profession's willingness to embrace technology to improve efficiency and accessibility. However, it also underscores the importance of understanding and adhering to the legal frameworks that govern electronic signatures to ensure the integrity and validity of intellectual property filings. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so too will the mechanisms for securing and verifying the electronic signatures that play a crucial role in the protection of innovations and brands

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published