I am getting the error "The attached PDF file is not a PDF file. Please remove file, create PDF and reattach." for the SB0016 - provisional patent PDF form.

I downloaded the file from their own server here: https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/sb0016.pdf and then saved it to my mac - filled it out using the default mac osx program preview and get this error when uploading their file.

I am uploading to their 'unregistered' website here: https://efs.uspto.gov/EFSWebUIUnregistered/EFSWebUnregistered?ActionString=go

I get this error when uploading a completely blank and unedited version of their own PDF, and I get this error when I try to edit their PDF before uploading it.

does anyone know how to deal with this?

  • have you used the Finder info to see what kind of a file your Mac thinks it is? Preview should work but you could also try Adobe Reader. FYI - EFS-Web is very fussy about imbedded fonts and page size.
    – George White
    Jul 18, 2019 at 0:15
  • You might try File>Print...>PDF>Save as PDF. This sometimes produces cleaner PDFs than just saving the file with changes.
    – Eric S
    Jul 18, 2019 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


doing 'file > export as pdf' worked for me (but not 'save as pdf' for some reason)

  • But we are supposed to print it, sign it, scan it, and only then do we give it to USPTO. So, how do you do that using "export as pdf"?
    – IAM_AL_X
    Jun 11, 2020 at 22:15
  • "export" did not work for me. I used "curl" at the unix command line; that helped. As for a signed copy, I have scanned on an old Windows 7 machine, and on a Mac, using Adobe Acrobat of different eras, but nothing worked.
    – IAM_AL_X
    Jun 11, 2020 at 22:32

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