Priority Document Access Service
Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants (Updated May 10, 2010)
- What is the Priority Document Access Service?
- Who can use the service?
- What are the advantages for applicants?
- How are priority documents made available via the service?
- How are priority documents retrieved from the service?
- What if things go wrong?
- What if the Office of first filing or an Office of second filing does not participate in the service?
- How is confidentiality ensured?
- How are access codes issued and monitored?
- What if an applicant does not have adequate Internet connections?
- What costs are associated with the service?
- What guidelines should be followed for participation?
This service provided by WIPO offers a simple and safe digital alternative to filing paper copies of priority documents with multiple patent Offices. It enables a patent applicant claiming priority to ask patent Offices of second filing to retrieve a copy of the priority document themselves via the service. A demo is available for comments on this web site.
The use of the service is voluntary for both applicants and Offices.
If an applicant files priority applications in many countries, he does not have to request and pay for multiple copies of paper priority documents, wait for them to arrive and send them to his agents in each country to pass on to the relevant Offices. The applicant can just request the Office of first filing to deposit the patent application in a digital library (or this might happen automatically in the case of some Offices), and can then decide to make it available via the service to any participating Office of second filing.
Some details depend on the Office of first filing, but essentially, the Office makes the priority document available via the service at the applicant's request (in some cases this might be done automatically) and an "access code" is sent to the applicant. Using this code and the application number, the applicant can manage the list of Offices authorized to access the document.
The applicant claims priority in exactly the same way as normal, but instead of sending a priority document to the Office of second filing, he asks the Office to retrieve a copy for itself (for example, by marking a checkbox on the application form). The applicant also has to ensure that access by that Office is authorized by actively controlling which Offices have access to the document.
The service is designed to be very reliable and to cope with short periods where the systems of any Office become unavailable. However, participating Offices of second filing have to provide safeguards for applicants to protect their rights in cases where a document cannot in practice be retrieved for some reason. This can either be by ensuring that access via the service is restored or by obtaining and transmitting a conventional certified copy from the Office of first filing.
What if the Office of first filing or an Office of second filing does not participate in the service?
If the Office of first filing does not participate in the system, the applicant can nevertheless make use of the service by obtaining a single certified copy and submitting it to WIPO. If an Office of second filing does not participate, a paper copy in traditional form will still have to be filed with that Office.
The confidentiality of priority documents that are not yet publicly available is ensured via a simple access control list within the service monitored by the patent applicant. An applicant requesting a certified copy of a priority document to be made available via the service will receive an access code either from the Office of first filing or from WIPO depending on the cases. This access code enables the patent applicant to maintain control over access to the document to specify which Offices should have permission to access the priority document. For applicants that are not be able to access the service online, the management of the access control list might be performed on their behalf by WIPO by simply filling a paper form.
Not all Offices of first filing that participate in the service necessarily opt to manage access codes for applicants to set access rights in the service. In such a case the Office of first filing will forward to WIPO either the actual priority document or the reference link to the document to be made available in the service along with the applicant’s name and contact details, and it is WIPO that will issue the applicant with the access code. Such exchanges are done over secure channels between WIPO and participating Offices. Applicants might subsequently change the access code generated by the service to a code of their choice.
The service also offers paper-based options for the benefit of applicants who are not in a position to access the service on-line.
The service is offered for free by WIPO. However, fees might be charged by the Offices of first or second filing for the storage or retrieval of documents. WIPO will give details of such fees if they are notified, but applicants should check with the individual Offices to be certain.
What guidelines should be followed for participation?
The following guidelines are provided for Applicants to provide a certified copy of a priority document through DAS:
- Simply ask the Office of first filing to add the certified copy of the priority document into the system. For example, please see instructions given by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Korean Intellectual Property Office
- Enable access by Offices of second filing by marking checkboxes through this on-line service
- Request Offices of second filing to use the service for obtaining access to the certified copy of the priority document.