There are few things more painful than uploading documents via EFS-Web and receiving the dreaded warning that:
The attached PDF file does not follow the supported PDF specifications (Versions 1.1 to 1.6). Please remove file, recreate with a current version of PDF and reattach.
I truly wonder how many curse words (and holes punched in walls) those two sentences have caused in the last few years…
What is a “PDF specification”?
The “PDF specifications (Versions 1.1 to 1.6)” referred to are created (specified) by Adobe. Essentially, every time Adobe releases a new version of Acrobat/Acrobat Reader, new features are added and a new version of the specification is created. For instance [Via]:
- PDF 1.0/Acrobat 1.0
- PDF 1.1/Acrobat 2.0
- PDF 1.2/Acrobat 3.0
- PDF 1.3/Acrobat 4.0
- PDF 1.4/Acrobat 5.0
- PDF 1.5/Acrobat 6.0
- PDF 1.6/Acrobat 7.0
- PDF 1.7/Acrobat 8.0
- PDF 1.7, Adobe Extension Level 3/Acrobat 9.0
- PDF 1.7, Adobe Extension Level 5/Acrobat 9.1
What triggers the warning?
When you upload PDFs to EFS-Web, the USPTO checks to make sure the file uploaded complies with the USPTO’s “PDF Guidelines for EFS-Web.” If your file doesn’t comply, you receive the warning.
The problem is that Adobe is constantly fiddling with the specification, fixing bugs, plugging security holes, etc. It seems like every time they update Acrobat/Acrobat Reader, EFS-Web balks at the resulting file, thinking it does not comply with the currently accepted standards. Until someone at the USPTO determines what needs to be updated in the software…EFS-Web will give you the error. Over and over and over…
How can I force Adobe Acrobat (Version 9 Pro) to fix an existing PDF so I can upload it successfully?
In the menu bar, select “Advanced” and then “Preflight” (or just press Shift-Ctrl-X).
In Preflight, select “Acrobat/PDF version compatibility” and select “Compatible with Acrobat 7.”
Press the “Analyze and fix” button and Adobe with reformat the file to be compatible with Acrobat 7, savig it as a PDF 1.6 document.
Also see this blog post: PDF Creation and Font Embedding for USPTO Submissions.
What other options are there for working around the issue?
- Open the file in another PDF generator/reader (e.g., Acrobat Reader, PDFpenPro, PDF995), and save it.
- Print the file and scan it back to PDF.
- Print the file using another PDF printer
Sadly, those options won’t always work.
The take-away tip: do not allow your PDF generating software to automatically update itself. Instead, manually apply the updates after you double check to make sure that there are no issues with EFS-Web (or at least wait a few weeks). To check for issues, see the USPTO’s EFS-Web Announcements page.
[edited to add a link to EFS-Web Announcements 2011-04-29]