37 CFR 1.4
Nature of correspondence and signature requirements.
This document contains one section of Chapter 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This page was last updated in November, 2005. You may return to the main 37 CFR Index, or to the index for one of the follow parts:
part 1 (patents);
part 2 (trademarks);
part 3 (assignments);
part 10 (representation); or
part 200+ (copyrights).
(a)Correspondence with the Patent and Trademark Office comprises:
(1)Correspondence relating to services and facilities of the Office, such as general inquiries, requests for publications supplied by the Office, orders for printed copies of patents, orders for copies of records, transmission of assignments for recording, and the like, and
(2)Correspondence in and relating to a particular application or other proceeding in the Office. See particularly the rules relating to the filing, processing, or other proceedings of national applications in subpart B, § § 1.31 to 1.378; of international applications in subpart C, § § 1.401 to 1.499; of ex parte reexaminations of patents in subpart D, § § 1.501 to 1.570; of extension of patent term in subpart F, § § 1.710 to 1.785; of inter partes reexaminations of patents in subpart H, § § 1.902 to 1.997; and of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in part 41 of this title.
(b)Since each file must be complete in itself, a separate copy of every paper to be filed in a patent application, patent file, or other proceeding must be furnished for each file to which the paper pertains, even though the contents of the papers filed in two or more files may be identical. The filing of duplicate copies of correspondence in the file of an application, patent, or other proceeding should be avoided, except in situations in which the Office requires the filing of duplicate copies. The Office may dispose of duplicate copies of correspondence in the file of an application, patent, or other proceeding.
(c)Since different matters may be considered by different branches or sections of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, each distinct subject, inquiry or order must be contained in a separate paper to avoid confusion and delay in answering papers dealing with different subjects. (d)(1) Handwritten signature. Each piece of correspondence, except as provided in paragraphs (d)(2), (d)(3), (e) and (f) of this section, filed in an application, patent file, or other proceeding in the Office which requires a person's signature, must:
(i)Be an original, that is, have an original handwritten signature personally signed, in permanent dark ink or its equivalent, by that person; or
(ii)Be a direct or indirect copy, such as a photocopy or facsimile transmission (§ 1.6(d)), of an original. In the event that a copy of the original is filed, the original should be retained as evidence of authenticity. If a question of authenticity arises, the Office may require submission of the original.
(2)S-signature. An S-signature is a signature inserted between forward slash marks, but not a handwritten signature as defined by § 1.4(d)(1). An S-signature includes any signature made by electronic or mechanical means, and any other mode of making or applying a signature not covered by either a handwritten signature of § 1.4(d)(1) or an Office Electronic Filing System (EFS) character coded signature of § 1.4(d)(3). Correspondence being filed in the Office in paper, by facsimile transmission as provided in § 1.6(d), or via the Office Electronic Filing System as an EFS Tag(ged) Image File Format (TIFF) attachment, for a patent application, patent, or a reexamination proceeding may be S-signature signed instead of being personally signed (i.e., with a handwritten signature) as provided for in paragraph (d)(1) of this section. The requirements for an S-signature under this paragraph (d)(2) are as follows.
(i)The S-signature must consist only of letters, or Arabic numerals, or both, with appropriate spaces and commas, periods, apostrophes, or hyphens for punctuation, and the person signing the correspondence must insert his or her own S-signature with a first single forward slash mark before, and a second single forward slash mark after, the S-signature (e.g., /Dr. James T. Jones, Jr./); and
(ii)A patent practitioner (§ 1.32(a)(1)), signing pursuant to § § 1.33(b)(1) or 1.33(b)(2), must supply his/her registration number either as part of the S-signature, or immediately below or adjacent to the S-signature. The number (#) character may be used only as part of the S-signature when appearing before a practitioner's registration number; otherwise the number character may not be used in an S-signature.
(iii)The signer's name must be:
(3)EFS character coded signature. Correspondence in character coded form being filed via the Office Electronic Filing System for a patent application or patent may be signed electronically. The electronic signature must consist only of letters of the English alphabet, or Arabic numerals, or both, with appropriate spaces and commas, periods, apostrophes, or hyphens for punctuation. The person signing the correspondence must personally insert the electronic signature with a first single forward slash mark before, and a second single forward slash mark after, the electronic signature (e.g., /Dr. James T. Jones, Jr./).
(4)Certifications. (i) Section 10.18 certifications: The presentation to the Office (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) of any paper by a party, whether a practitioner or non-practitioner, constitutes a certification under § 10.18(b) of this chapter. Violations of § 10.18(b)(2) of this chapter by a party, whether a practitioner or non-practitioner, may result in the imposition of sanctions under § 10.18(c) of this chapter. Any practitioner violating § 10.18(b) of this chapter may also be subject to disciplinary action. See § § 10.18(d) and 10.23(c)(15) of this chapter.
(ii)Certifications as to the signature: (A) Of another: A person submitting a document signed by another under paragraphs (d)(2) or (d)(3) of this section is obligated to have a reasonable basis to believe that the person whose signature is present on the document was actually inserted by that person, and should retain evidence of authenticity of the signature.
(B)Self certification: The person inserting a signature under paragraphs (d)(2) or (d)(3) of this section in a document submitted to the Office certifies that the inserted signature appearing in the document is his or her own signature.
(C)Sanctions: Violations of the certifications as to the signature of another or a person's own signature, set forth in paragraphs (d)(4)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section, may result in the imposition of sanctions under § 10.18(c) and (d) of this chapter.