Dealing with Very Fancy Adobe Acrobat files

Several sites (including the USPTO office) provide an interactive Adobe Acrobat File that can only be submitted as a regular black and white printout. Unfortunately, the Acrobat Suite does not allow saving as an ordinary PDF. This is a hack around it. A clear warning that this problem is about to occur is if you try to open an Adobe file in Adobe Preview or Adobe Reader and you get the above ScreenShot.

This problem happened for me specifically when filing the ADS form in compliance with the USPTO guideline and requirements for filing a patent. For future reference, I've created a blank version of the form for download here. A few very important disclaimers to keep in mind:

  • Application Data Sheet 37 CFR 1.76 as a regular PDF
  • There are a few circles already filled out here: US Residency, Customer Number and Single Entity Assignee
  • Note that these forms change regularly on the USPTO Website

It is unlikely that the above printed form will satisfy your specific needs. That said, here's how to generate your own submittable PDF file. You must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Even then, it's unnecessarily difficult to do this. In fact, if you have a real life printer, I'd almost suggest filling the form out electronically, printing it out and then scanning it back in.

Other than that, here's what I did:

  • Fill out the form electronically in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
  • Convert to a .doc or .docx using the "Export" function
  • Close everything and use "Create New Adobe Acrobat File" function
  • Select your .doc and ask Adobe Acrobat Reader to create a new pdf
  • Download and open the new pdf using your default pdf Viewer and click Print to PDF for your submittable document

If you read this far, you know that the problem is that you cannot "Print to PDF" within the interactive Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. This is almost certainly a bug as most document check websites including the USPTO Electronic Filing System does not accept interactive PDFs as a part of submission. The idea behind this hack is to save to a format that can both be opened and printed to a regular Pdf. I've submitted a complaint to Adobe but I don't expect it to be fixed by the next time I have the same issue. Hope this helps.

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Documenting makes the mundane seem interesting. Interesting matters seem to demand attention on their own.