The USPTO rules currently require the submission of a sequence as an ASCII text file as detailed in WIPO Standard ST. 25, see MPEP § 2422 and 37 CFR § 1.821. The USPTO has not published a notice of rulemaking regarding implementing the new WIPO standard but MPEP § 2421.04 provides that “the Office intends to accommodate progress in the areas of both standardization and computerization as they relate to sequence data by subsequently amending the rules to take into account any such progress. As the Office progresses in these areas, the Office will do so by the publication of notices in the Official Gazette or formal rulemaking proposals, as appropriate.” The standard will apply to all PCT applications which must comply with the PCT rules.
WIPO has not provided for any transition period and the rule will apply to all applications, including divisional and continuation applications filed on or after July 1. This includes applications which complied with prior WIPO Standard ST. 25.
While standardization is a good thing, deciphering an XML file will require the use of the WIPO tool or other XML viewing program. While XML is based on the use tags designed, in this case by WIPO, it is a standardized format so that some of the issues encountered with the DOCX format should not be an issue.
WIPO terms the introduction of the XML format the “Big Bang.”