The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) and China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) have launched a free service that will allow the two offices to electronically exchange certain patent application documents. Officials say this will help streamline the patent application process and reduce costs for businesses seeking patent protection for their inventions in both the U.S. and China. The service will allow PTO and SIPO to obtain electronic copies of application documents filed with the other office at no cost to the applicant. With this service, applicants will no longer need to file paper copies of the documents, says PTO Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee. The U.S. already has electronic document exchange agreements in place with the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.