Posting to make clear that any patent examiner should at least follow-up should it seriously be considered acceptable.

Does anybody here believe this is a valid set of claims in the patent application? Is is not overly broad? Obvious? Not novel?

DocuSign U.S. Patent Application number 13/158,937 (filed 13 June 2011) has claim 1 as:

A method in an electronic signature service, comprising:

without use of a Portable Document Format processing module,

  • creating a template that specifies required electronic signature data;

  • transmitting a URL that identifies the template;

  • receiving a request based on the transmitted URL;

  • in response to the received request, preparing a form based on the template;
  • presenting the form within a Web browser; and
  • receiving the required electronic signature data.

We hope that the patent examiner will look at competing technologies before they decide on the validity here. Claim 1 as written above has been in our customer deployed practice since June 2001. Every web form is a template accessible via an URL, and if that web form allows for an electronic signature (legal agreement), it would do exactly this, with possibly the only exception that such forms were not "in an electronic signature service." Of course, our web forms were part of an electronic signature service and did exactly this. We even expanded greatly on this concept in November 2005 with our eSignForms product, and most recently in July 2009 with Open eSignForms.

Clearly, this is an obvious solution to signing on the web and nobody should have a patent on it, and this one certainly is far too late to the game without significant changes to the claims.

It is surprising that a company with significant legal representation would even think the claims are novel and non-obvious considering their founder met with Yozons before even starting the company. Clearly they know better.

  • 2
    Welcome to Stack Exchange. Please take a minute to read about what this site is. Posting prior art for a patent application is within the mandate of this site, but please make this a question (e.g. “is there prior art for this claim?”) and post the prior art as an answer to your question. Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 19:34

4 Answers 4


The bullet points quoted describe the most obvious "login" form/box that has existed since the implementation of web forms. The key element is

  • receiving the required electronic signature data.

My login to this site is, in effect, my "electronic signature data" - it identifies me and only me. Unless their patent invents a new form of electronic signature that does not simply use a combination of logins, passwords, cypher keys, IP or other known elements - I consider it as obvious in its entirety.


The concept of "electronic signature" made me think straight away of GPG. Does a a web interface requiring public-key signatures come close to this?

What is FireGPG?

There's a small bit on that page talking about a fireGPG "API that allows you to design a website that uses GPG's features on the client; for example to autheticate a user for an administration pane."

Plenty of other sites use related methods, mostly done on the server side. Github provides a form for filling out your ssh key to authorise that you have access to the code repository.

Generating SSH Keys


You should also investigate PKI as this has been used to sign documents for quite some time. You might want to contact Verisign or Network Solutions to see if they can provide you with prior art as they most likely do.

Frankly their patent is laughably easy to work around.


These points seem overly vague/broad:

  • transmitting a URL that identifies the template;
  • receiving a request based on the transmitted URL;

Every HTTP server in existence would satisfy the 2nd point as it's worded.

  • Yes, of course, but the patent claims a method that includes all the steps. It does not claim a method that includes only these two steps. Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 12:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .