The What, When and How of ST.26

The What, When and How of ST.26

Monday Sep 8th, 2014

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.