Issue 96 | August 13, 2003
Bar Codes and Shading No Longer Allowed in Patent Correspondence
 On July 15, 2003, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("Office") announced that Customer Number bar codes and correspondence with a non-white background should no longer be used due to certain limitation in the image file wrapper ("IFW") system.

The only acceptable mode of presenting a Customer Number on correspondence, including Office forms, will be by typing or printing it. Office forms that formerly permitted placing or affixing a bar code label for a Customer Number have been recently revised (with a June 2003 revision date) to delete all references to an attached bar code label and to require that a Customer Number be typed or printed thereon. While former versions of Office forms may still be used, applicants should print or type-in the Customer Number, instead of affixing a bar code label. In the event that a bar code label for a Customer Number is used, and it cannot be processed by the Office, the Office will follow the procedures set forth in Section 403 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure.

Forms or other correspondence that do not have a white background (e.g., shading or colored backgrounds) are difficult to read when scanned and viewed as part of an IFW. In fact, text on a background other than white is often indistinguishable from the shaded or colored background in the scanned images and therefore illegible. Consequently, applicants may now only use or create documents with dark text (preferably black ink) with a white background. Office forms that formerly had gray backgrounds have also been recently revised and applicants should only use the recently revised forms. If a scanned image of a document with a gray background is added to an IFW, and is found to be illegible, the Office will attempt to find the information elsewhere. For example, if an applicant submits a document with a Customer Number typed in a box with a gray background, and the document states that the address associated with the Customer Number should be used for the correspondence address, the Office will look for a designation of a correspondence address in another location.

A copy of the official, pre-OG Notice is available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac
. To discuss these changes, or to suggest other topics for future issues of this newsletter, please contact the author, Bill Heinze (billheinze@tkhr.com) at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley in Atlanta, Georgia USA

The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.