WIPO ST.26 Update

October 28, 2016

WIPO Standard ST.26 Update 

On Thursday, October 27th, 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce published a Notice in the Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 208 titled "Standard ST.26 - Request for Comments on the Recommended Standard for the Presentation of Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listings Using XML (eXtensible Markup Language)".  The notice requests comments from the public regarding the revision of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standard ST.26 for the presentation of nucleotide and/or amino acid sequences in patent applications and the transition from ASCII text to eXtensible Markup language (XML).  Once WIPO Standard ST.26 has been approved by the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS), the United States rules of practice will be revised to allow for implementation of the new standard.

All written comments must be received on or before December 27, 2016 to ensure consideration.  No public hearing will be held.  For further information, please read the notice published in the Federal Register at 81 FR 74775. 


March 5, 2015

New Year, New Standard?

Will 2015 be the year that the new Sequence Listing standard (WIPO ST.26) goes into effect?

It all depends on whether or not the Task Force, lead by the EPO, is able to provide a solution to the transitional aspect of enacting the standard.  To date the discussions have been focused on the actual standard, however, now that the ST.26 standard has been agreed upon and informally adopted, the Task Force has moved its attention to determining how to put the standard into effect.

At the PCT Union - Meeting of International Authorities under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT): Twenty-Second Session scheduled to take place February 4-February 6 in Tokyo, Japan it is expected that the Task Force will present a proposal for the transition from WIPO Standard ST.25 (current requirements) to WIPO ST.26.

In our opinion, there are a couple of likely options for the transition:

          (1) the acceptance of both ST.25 and ST.26 compliant listings by patent offices for a certain amount of time

          (2) a hard cutoff date after which all ST.25 Sequence Listings would be rejected and all listings would need to be ST.26 compliant 

With any luck the Task Force will see the benefit of option 1 to allow both the patent offices and applicants a grace period to get familiar with the new guidelines. Further to this point, it will be interesting to see if there will be the creation of a software program to convert ST.25 formatted listings into ST.26 compliant listings.  If so, this could prolong the implementation of ST.26 as there will certainly be bugs to work out as with all new software programs. 

Hopefully the discussions that take place at the Meeting of International Authorities provide some insight into how and when the new standard will go into effect.


September 8, 2014.

The What, When and How of ST.26

To date, our discussion has been focused on the status updates of the new Sequence Listing standard, deemed ST.26.  We have followed its proposal, drafting and adoption, and continue to follow its implementation and transition into the new, exclusive Sequence Listing standard.  That said, let's not forget the content of the standard itself.

What is ST.26?

ST.26 (informally adopted) is the new "Standard on the Presentation of Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listings Using Extensible Mark-up Language (XML)".  As the standard is now final and available for review, we are able to analyze the new content and formatting requirements.  Probably the most notable change is the transition from text format to XML format.  Some other noted changes include:

  • The requirement to include D-amino acids and other modified amino acids
  • The specific exclusion of sequences with fewer than 10 nucleotides or 4 amino acids
  • Changes in the requirements for gapped sequences, branched sequences, and variants positions.
  • Different and additional features and annotations and requirements for including both.

When will it take effect?

Based on the June summary of the Patent Cooperation Treaty Working Group, the Task Force has now been requested to prepare a proposal for the transition from WIPO Standard ST.25 (current requirements) to ST.26 for consideration and approval in 2015.  Additionally, it is noted that the implementation of the standard will not occur until the transition has been resolved. 

How will XML Sequence Listings be prepared?


One key aspect of the transition is the availability of a tool for the preparation of XML listings, as well as a tool for easy conversion of sequence listing files from one format to another.  As the EPO is the task force leader, they have created a Sequence Listing generation program "BiSSAP" which can create Sequence Listings in both ST.25 and ST.26, as well as convert Sequence Listings from one standard to the other.  While this type of software program seems ideal, there are many gaps in the conversion process that need to be filled.  Some of these include:

  • Loss of cursory information (applicant, inventors, title, etc.)
  • The requirement for manual intervention regarding feature key and qualifiers, which inherently introduces chances for error or inaccuracies in the conversion.

It is also expected that the USPTO will create their own software for the preparation of XML listings based on ST.26 as they have done with the current PatentIn software they provide. 

As always, only time can tell how the progression of ST.26 will occur

July 14, 2014. 

Until then, we'll break down the components of the standard and the transitional aspect into greater detail so that when it takes effect you are prepared!

We know one of the major changes in ST.26 is the conversion from ASCII text based documents to XML.  This move is predicated on the fact that XML is easier for computers to “read.”   

From a Sequence Listing and Search standpoint, the transition from ST.25 to ST.26 and the requirements associated therewith is not yet defined or specifically addressed.  However, and as previously noted, the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS) met in Geneva from May 12th to 16th to discuss, amongst other things, the adoption of ST.26.  Based on the Summary by the Chair, it appears that informal discussions regarding the topic were held, however, no agreement on the meeting’s agenda was made and therefore it was not accepted and the session adjourned.

The Task Force will continue to work on the transitional aspects of the rule change for the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 with the goal of submitting its recommendations for approval of the CWS at its fifth session in 2015.  No date is yet available. 

Following the meeting of the CWS, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Working Group met from June 10th to 13th. The discussion was based on the results of the CWS meetings, and the Summary by the Chair confirms that "the draft WIPO standard ST.26 has been informally agreed upon at the recent session of the Committee on WIPO Standards, but that no decisions had been taken because the agenda for the session had not been adopted."  The document also reiterates that the Task Force is now in the process of making an assessment of the transitional requirements by the end of this year.

HCIP will continue to be you go-to partner for all updates regarding ST.26 as they become available.

June 1, 2014

As scheduled, the Committee of WIPO Standards met from May 12th through 16th to discuss, amongst other things, the adoption of the proposed ST.26 standard. At this time, documents have not been made public regarding the outcome of the meeting. If the past holds true, little information will be provided to the public. HCIP is closely following these developments and you can count on us to provide you updates on any decisions. We want to make sure that the first Sequence Listing rules change since 1998 stays in the forefront of everyone's minds.

May 6, 2014

Nearly two years have passed since members of our community (us included) reviewed and provided comments on the proposed new Sequence Listing Standard, deemed ST.26. So much time has passed without published updates from the patent offices' that for many the new standard has become "out of sight, out of mind," information. But don't let it slip too far to the back of your mind, because the revised standard IS coming!

Over the past couple of years, the EPO, USPTO and WIPO have provided little information regarding to the status of the new standard. However, the Sequence Listing task force has been working continuously since comments were submitted to address the public's concerns. The goal is still to replace the current Sequence Listing standards with a revised XML focused version in the future.

Summaries of the "Meeting of International Authorities under the PCT-Twenty-First Session" and "PCT Working Group" released in the first quarter of this year indicate the following:

  • A new draft of the standard has been drafted, taking into account public comments and input from database providers, which is being reviewed internally by members of the task force.
  • It is expected that the final standard will be released to WIPO for adoption at the 4th Session of the Committee of WIPO Standards (CWS).
  • An additional round of discussion will begin to address the transition from ST.25 to ST.26.