The Patent and Trademark Office announced on Friday that it has begun to implement a prototype for a new system that will allow the agency to fully process patent applications electronically.
If successful, the prototype eventually would replace the agency's processing paper-based patent applications.
Under the system, select patent applications would be transferred to an electronic format and then be reviewed by patent examiners.
"Automating the patent-examination process is another example of the ongoing efforts of [office] and the Bush administration to create a quality-focused, market-driven, e-commerce-based organization that rapidly responds to the demands of the national and global marketplaces," PTO Director James Rogan said in a statement.
The European Patent Office designed core software used in the electronic image-based processing system contained in the prototype.