Formatting ASCII Tables for submission to the USPTO

Formatting ASCII Tables for submission to the USPTO

Katie Henderson
Tuesday Mar 15th, 2016

Did you know that any single table over 50 pages in length or multiple tables totaling over 100 pages in length may be submitted as ASCII formatted text files rather than being incorporated into a patent application?  Depending on the length of the tables this can significantly decrease the overall page fees for an application; however, ensuring the tables are properly saved in ASCII format can be tricky.

Here are our suggested steps for saving tables in ASCII text (assuming you are beginning with an Excel .xls spreadsheet or something similar).

  1. Check for non-ASCII characters.  Before doing any type of conversion, manually scan the data for any symbols (Greek letters or mathematical characters (≠, ±, ≤, ÷, µ or ×) or other non-ASCII characters).
  2. Save the Excel file as a text file.  Please note, if there are multiple tabs in the spreadsheet, each tab will need to be saved individually.
    • Instead of using "Save" select "Save as"
    • Find the location on your system where you want to save the table
    • Name the file
    • Set the "save as type" drop down menu to "Text (Tab delimited) (*.txt)"
    • Open the saved file in Microsoft Word and follow the steps outlined in our blog on saving a Sequence Listing as ASCII text.

Once you have completed these steps, your table should be formatted as ASCII text and be in condition to submit to the patent office either via EFS or on duplicate discs; however, for peace of mind, you may want to verify that the file is properly formatted. 

A method for doing just that involves using the text editor Notepad++ (available free to download).  This software is particularly useful because it displays the file format in the bottom right of the window (see below).  If properly formatted, the "ANSI" code should be displayed rather than "Unicode" or other file formats.

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On the other hand, we do not recommend opening the file in Word once you save it in ASCII format.  As Word is not a traditional text editor it automatically scans the file's content to determine the type of file it believes it is dealing with.  Depending on the data in the original Excel file it would not be surprising for Word to suggest opening the file as Unicode.  It's important to note that this DOES NOT mean the file is non-ASCII is simply means that the content better represents a Unicode file by Word's standards.

As you can see, on the surface, the process of saving tables in ASCII text is quite simply.  That being said, the content, number of tabs, number of tables, etc. can quickly turn this into a complex task.  If you ever have a need to submit ASCII tables in a patent application HCIP will happily assist you!