Application Data Sheets in Patent Applications

An Application Data Sheet is a sheet or sheets that may be voluntarily submitted in either a provisional or a nonprovisional application, which contains bibliographic data, arranged in a format specified by the Patent Office. The Patent Office provides a pre-formatted form that can be filled in, and the Office has recently begun allowing applicants to enter bibliographic information electronically and directly on the portal used to upload a patent application.

An application data sheet must be titled “Application Data Sheet” and must contain all required section headings. If an application data sheet is provided, the application data sheet becomes part of the provisional or nonprovisional application for which it has been submitted, and thus part of the file history.

The ADS must include applicant information, correspondent information, application information, representative information. It can include domestic and foreign priority information, as well as assignee information. It can also include a non-publication request. A non-publication is a request to keep an application secret, and it can only be made once, at the time of filing. If it isn’t made at the time of filing, it cannot be made later.

The ADS must be properly signed. The Patent Office will accept a handwritten signature. For electronically produced documents, however, the PTO accepts a very precise type of signature, in the form of “/Name/”. Failure to sign the ADS properly can cause a number of administrative problems. If the ADS isn’t signed properly – and that can include forgetting the leading or trailing “/” – then the requests and information provided in the application data sheet will be largely ignored. The Office will not recognize the inventor and applicants’ addresses, the priority claim, the request for non-publication (if made), an authorization for a foreign patent office to access the application, and a few other things. Fortunately, most of these can be remedied fairly easily by filing a corrected ADS and pointing out what information was previously “missing.” However, the non-publication request cannot be re-made, so the application will be published according to the normal publication schedule at 18 months. The only way to recapture the non-publication request is to expressly abandon the application and file it anew. That should only be done after serious consideration of financial, co-pendency, prior art issues, because those issues may affect the validity of the application or patent issuing from it.