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What’s Important To Know About Signatures In Patent Applications?

It's critical to ensure all papers submitted relating to patent applications are signed correctly by the correct people.

When opening a new startup or running your existing business, paperwork never ends and always seems to top the list of tedious tasks. At Mertzlufft Law, we work with our clients to understand and maintain a smooth patent application process and managing necessary paperwork for our clients, regardless of the task at hand.

To properly complete and submit a patent application and necessary forms, beyond deadlines, it’s important to understand the intricacies of the law’s stringent requirements for formalities of patent applications. One such requirement demands those involved in the patenting process ensure all papers filed are signed—and signed correctly—to be accepted. Unsigned or improperly signed documents can harm or even be fatal to a patent application or a later-issued patent.

What kind of signatures can be used?

  • Wet Signature – A handwritten original signature signed with ink on paper
  • S-Signature – A signature represented by a typed signer’s name within forward slashes
  • E-Signature – A hand-drawn digital signature generated via a commercial signature platform such as Adobe Sign® or DocuSign®, or a graphical representation of a handwritten signature

The patent office sets forth a very specific format for signatures. For example, in the case of an “S-Signature,” the signature must identify the signer within forward slashes. If the signature is not in the proper form, the patent office could simply reject the submission. Sometimes, this means a resubmission could be late and pose serious and fatal issues to a patent application.

Who can sign a patent application?

Generally, for applications by solo inventors or groups of inventors, papers have to be signed by the applicant on the patent or a patent practitioner representing the applicant. Where the applicant is the inventor personally, the inventor may sign.

Who signs for a company?

Organization clients, for example, corporations or LLCs, are what the law calls “juristic entities.” For these juristic entities, beyond needing to have legal rights to prosecute an application, there are certain rules as to who can sign papers submitted relating to patent applications. These rules are more specific than for an individual inventor or group of inventors. Generally for juristic entities, the signer has to be a patent practitioner—an officer or representative of the organization can’t be the signer solely based on position. Patent practitioners are attorneys or agents who are authorized to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

In conclusion

The takeaway is to ensure all papers submitted relating to patent applications have correctly formatted signatures and are signed by the correct people. The patent process can be daunting, though it is often essential to the timeline of a product or service launch, and top startups know that any patent strategy needs to begin early. Stay up-to-date on patent law by keeping up with our blog and social media.

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