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A Brief Overview of Application Data Sheets and How They Help Applicants in the US Patent Office

What is an Application Data Sheet?

An application data sheet or “ADS” is a document that provides the bibliographic data for an application to the USPTO. The USPTO prefers, but does not require, the use of an ADS. An ADS can be advantageous, however, because it tends to reduce errors in the conversion/recordation of application data into the USPTO’s official electronic data record. While electronic filing via the USPTO’s EFS-Web has certainly reduced some errors, the USPTO relies on the uploaded documents (e.g., declaration, specification), rather than a user’s input, to create its official electronic record. For example, in a national stage application filed under 35 USC & 371, the USPTO might look to the publication of the international application for the title and to other documents for the listing of inventors and the correspondence address. The use of an ADS, because it provides this information in a single document and in a specified format, improves the accuracy of this conversion and the resulting electronic record.

Examples of What Can Happen Without an ADS

The USPTO’s procedures for converting the application data of paper applications and for recording electronic data into its official data record are surprisingly accurate, in view of the number of application data records it must create. Nonetheless, as with any system, errors do occur. And, even when they are remedied early in the prosecution process, they still take time and can cause processing delays. Worse yet, sometimes errors in the USPTO data records are not corrected. Consider the following U.S. patents, which could have benefited from an ADS:

   1. U.S. Patent Nos. 6,112,451, 6,631,400, and 6,637,044, each for a “Statement Regarding Federally Sponsored Research or Development”;

   2. U.S. Patent No. 7,263,562 for a “Method and System for Describing Uploaded Files Statement Regarding Federally Sponsored Research or Development”; and

   3. U.S. Patent No. 6,389,215 for “Low Birefringent Polyimides for Optical Waveguides Statement Regarding Federally Sponsored Research or Development”.

And then there are:

   1. U.S. Patent No. 6,930,045 for “Cross Reference to Related Application”;

   2. U.S. Patent No. 6,829,526 for a “Train Detection System and a Train Detection Method Cross Reference to Related Application”; and

   3. U.S. Patent No.  6,786,734 for an “Electrical Adapter With a Foldable Housing Cross-Reference to Related Application”.

Clearly, there are instances when an ADS would have helped the USPTO more accurately convert bibliographic information into an official data record.

The Requirements for an ADS

Section 1.76 of Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations governs application data sheets and sets forth specific requirements for each ADS. The following are some of the more noteworthy.

1. An ADS may be used in provisional and nonprovisional applications.

2. The USPTO offers a fillable pdf form (Form PTO/SB/14) on its website. Try to use the USPTO fillable form whenever possible, because an ADS must be submitted as a text-based PDF file. A scanned version of the ADS fillable form will be rejected via EFS-Web because EFS-Web will not be able to auto-load scanned in data into backend systems.

3. An ADS must be in a specific format. An ADS must be titled “Application Data Sheet” and must contain all of the following section headings, with any appropriate data for each section heading:

  • Applicant information (i.e., the name, residence, mailing address, and citizenship of each applicant);
  • Correspondence information (i.e., the correspondence address, which may be indicated by reference to a customer number);
  • Application information (i.e., the title of the invention, a suggested classification, by class and subclass, the Technology Center to which the subject matter of the invention is assigned, the total number of drawing sheets, any docket number assigned to the application, the type of application);
  • Representative information (i.e., the registration number of each practitioner having a power of attorney in the application);
  • Domestic priority information (i.e., the application number, the filing date, the status, and relationship of each application for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. §§ 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c));
  • Foreign priority information (i.e., the application number, country, and filing date of each foreign application for which priority is claimed) (NOTE – providing this information in the application data sheet constitutes the claim for priority as required by 35 U.S.C. § 119(b); and
  • Assignee information.

4. Providing domestic priority information in an ADS constitutes the specific reference required by 35 USC § 119(e) or 120, and 37 CFR §§ 1.78(a)(2) or 1.78(a)(5), such that this information need not otherwise be made part of the specification.

5. The USPTO will interpret any blank section in an ADS to mean that there is no corresponding data for that label anywhere in the application.

6. In the event of an inconsistency between the ADS and other submitted documents, the timing of the submission of the conflicting information controls.  So, when the conflicting information is submitted at different times, the latest submitted information governs regardless of how it is supplied, except that an oath or declaration governs inconsistencies in the naming of inventors or their citizenship.  Conversely, when the conflicting information is submitted at the same time, the ADS will govern when the inconsistent information is supplied at the same time, except that an oath or declaration governs inconsistencies in the naming of inventors or their citizenship.

How to Write a Product Data Sheet – A Handout

A data sheet helps the prospect to make right decisions about the product. A prospect goes through the data provided in the sheet and decides whether the product is according to his/her requirements or not; if the stuff listed in the sheet makes the prospect feels positive, no doubt, the maker of the product can see a sale around the corner. A data sheet lists out all the features of a product including the technical details and explains them in an easily understandable language to the prospect. It lists out all the advantages the prospect can get after using the product. Before buying a particular product, experienced technical people like to go through its data sheet and then take the decision whether to buy or not.

A good data sheet never neglects to list out even the minor features, which can make a difference to the person who uses the product. Showing the features in a graphical way besides explaining about the same makes a huge value addition to the product. The data sheet lay out should be in such a way that the content and the graphics presented in the sheet should appear in neatly divided sections (without overlapping) with the explanation and the graphics changing positions from left-to-right or right-to-left in every alternative succeeding sections.

Depending upon the product features, the data sheet has to be divided into clear-cut sections with the subheadings describing the characteristics of the product. The main components of a data sheet are

1. The product introduction: An introduction should be given about the product and its related other market categories.

2. Advantages of using the product: List out how the user can profit by using the product

3. Working process of the product: Explain the working process outline of the product for the benefit of the readers interested in the technical aspect of the same

4. Performance measurement factors of the product: List out the benchmarks to measure the performance of the product with respect to other products of the same/related category

5. Benefits in using the product: List out how the user will be benefited after using the product

6. Legal and safe use of the product: List out all the legal and safety aspects for using the product; list out all the safety certifications to tell the user how safe is the product and in what way

7. The cost-effectiveness of the product: This aspect is very important for the user as this factor forces the user to decide whether to buy the product or not

8. The disadvantages and how the user can minimize them: List out the disadvantages but give solutions to the user how they can be overcome. Listing out disadvantages, with solutions explained in brief, increases the credibility of both the product and the company, which built it.

9. Automation features of the product (if any): List out all the points the user can automate while using the product. Remember, everybody wants to break away from the monotonous way of doing things.

10. How the product can save the user’s money: The prospect is always interested in how fast the investment made on the product can be recovered. The product ROI (Return on Investment) gives the prospect an idea of how fast the money invested can be recuperated and through what factors.

Finally, the data sheet can make or mar the selling prospects of a product. Presenting the nuances of the product in a crispy, concise, and informative manner in a data sheet really helps a product to make a hit.

ANSI Material Safety Data Sheet – The Safer Way to Critical Chemical Hazard Information

Unfortunately, hazardous materials are part of our lives. Many workers see them on their job every day and avoiding them is not an option. Hazardous chemicals come in many varieties with multiple dangers and problems. Protecting yourself from the hazards associated with these chemicals and knowing what to do in an emergency are imperative.

This is where the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) comes into play. It contains the answers that workers need to guide them in the safe use, storing and transporting of hazardous chemicals. However, reading information in Material Safety Data Sheets has often been a problem due to the complex variety of ways the data is presented in the sheets. Recently, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has created a standard format for Material Safety Data Sheets. This format is well on its way to being an industry standard and can greatly reduce the complexity of Material Safety Data Sheets.

While OSHA requires through the “Right-to-Know” regulations that chemical manufacturers must provide MSDS on their products, it does not require a standard format be used. Because of this, the organization and technical language of Material Safety Data Sheets can be confusing and in an emergency when the quick gathering of information is critical, the results can be tragic. Because of this, the Chemical Manufacturers Association in conjunction with the American National Standard Institute created the ANSI Standard Z400.1. While compliance with the standard is voluntary, many major chemical manufacturers as well as users have adopted the ANSI MSDS format.

The ANSI standard is presented in an “as needed” order – emergency instructions first, basic safety next, then lastly technical data. The standard is designed to answer four basic questions: What is the material and what are its hazards? What do to if a problem occurs? What precautions to take? Is there anything else I should know about this material?

Section I identifies the material and lists its product name, its generic chemical name, its common name, the manufacturers contact information and lastly an emergency telephone number. Section II provides the ingredients in the material. It requires the hazardous components be listed but sometimes the non-hazardous are listed as well.

Section III provides the emergency overview and potential health effects of the material. The emergency overview is first followed by the key hazards that demand your attention first followed by the potential health effects of those hazards. These include symptoms and a note to physicians.

Sections IV, V and VI cover what to do if a problem occurs when working with the material. This includes first aid measures, fire fighting instructions, hazards that occur if the fire burns, what to do in case of a spill or release and decontamination procedures.

Sections VII, VIII, IX and X cover precautions to take to prevent problems working with the material including safe handling, storage, engineering controls, personal protective equipment, exposure guidelines, Physical and chemical properties of the material and stability and reactivity.

The last sections answer the fourth question of ANSI. Is there anything else I should know about the material? This section usually covers toxological information, ecological information, disposal considerations, transport information and regulatory information. These sections are generally used under the guidance of health and safety professionals and not by the general worker.

It is important to note that MSDS are not the only sources of chemical information and container labels and warning stickers should also be read along with emergency plans and hazard communication program literature. Every worker should be as informed as possible.

Material Safety Data Sheets are designed to make every worker more safe, the ANSI data sheets have taken safety a step further. General workers can now feel safe that they can read, understand and find critical information more quickly.