Updated Information about Digital Certificates
By Christopher P. Singer --
In an e-mail notification sent January 31, 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provided its latest e-Commerce Update, which included a link to recent information regarding the use and recovery of digital certificates, which are required to access Private PAIR and use EFS-Web. The link provides several categories of FAQs all relating to EFS-Web. The FAQ page has five questions and answers that relate specifically to the topic of digital certificates, which will be relevant for any practitioner preparing to use EFS-Web or Private PAIR for the first time. Even though the initial setup can be a bit of a headache, I have found that EFS-Web is well worth the effort and encourage everyone to give it a try. The FAQs and answers are reproduced below.
Q1. How long do customers have to use the authorization code and reference number initially received from the Electronic Business Center (EBC) to create and download their digital certificate?
A1. 120 days.
Q2. What should a customer do if the 120 days has passed and the authorization code and reference number have expired?
A2. The customer should contact the EBC, who will reissue the authorization code and reference number. Reissue should take five to six business days.
Q3. What is the life of a digital certificate?
A3. The certificate expires 27 months after it was originally issued or recovered. If the customer uses the digital certificate during the last 100 days of this time period, the certificate will be updated automatically. Once updated, the certificate will be renewed for another 27 months. This renewal process continues indefinitely. If the certificate is not used by the customer during that 100-day period, it will expire and the customer must use either self recovery or must have an EBC-assisted recovery.
Q4. What if multiple copies of the digital certificate exist?
A4. Only one copy of the digital certificate will be renewed through the automatic update process. Any other copy, on a customer's alternate computer or disk drive, will not be renewed. Copies not renewed will stop working when the certificate was originally set to expire. Customers may make copies of the renewed certificate.
Q5. How can a customer determine when the 100-day automatic update time period begins and whether a copy of the digital certificate was automatically renewed?
A5. There is no automatic notification. Customers should contact the EBC for renewal information by calling 1-866-217-9197.