Recent Data Breach at USPTO: What You Need to Know

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently issued notices regarding a data breach that occurred over a two-month period, affecting unpublished patent applications.
The breach has largely gone unnoticed, and many practitioners are awaiting an official announcement from the USPTO. 

During the breach, which took place from February 5 to March 29, 2024, certain details of unpublished patent applications, specifically titles and application numbers, were inadvertently made visible to unauthorized individuals with access to specific USPTO accounts. However, the detailed descriptions and claims of the patents, which are crucial components, were not accessed or exposed. 

The USPTO has assured applicants that the breach does not impact their patent rights in the United States, contending that the exposed information was insufficient to affect the patentability of the inventions. They have also pledged to assist in resolving any issues stemming from the breach by acknowledging that the exposure was a mistake. 

As of now, the USPTO has not made a public announcement about the breach, opting to inform affected applicants through individual notices.
For those concerned about the security of their applications, the option to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the USPTO exists to ascertain whether their data was accessed. 

This breach underscores the significance of robust data protection measures, particularly when handling sensitive information like patent applications. It is advisable to stay updated on any developments from the USPTO and consider reaching out to them if there are concerns about potential impact on an application.

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