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USPTO to Allow E-Signatures but Foreign Jurisdictions Still Require Ink Signatures

While e-signatures have been accepted for transactions in many facets of life for years, the USPTO finally has approved e-signatures for use with patent filings. However, e-signatures still carry risks.

First, at a high level, Federal Circuit law covers patent assignments but ambiguities in patent assignments are governed by state law. Different states have different requirements regarding electronic signatures.

Second, some foreign countries such as China and India do not accept electronic signatures. Thus, if there are plans to file a patent application in a foreign country, ink signatures will still be required.

Clients have been clamoring for electronic signatures for years and the USPTO approval is a great step forward. Over time, we hope states and countries will adopt similar rules.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is revising the rules of practice in patent cases to update the signature rule to provide for the broader permissibility of electronic signatures using third-party document-signing software, such as DocuSign® and Acrobat® Sign, and more closely align signature requirements with the rules of practice in trademark cases.


uspto, e-signatures, patents, patent filings