USPTO falling behind in deciding PPH petitions

(Followup postings here and here and here and here.)

USPTO’s internal standard for deciding PPH petitions is to try to attend to each petition with two months of when it was filed.  But the Office is falling behind.  What can you do?

The last time I asked USPTO about this kind of backlog, which was about two years ago, the Office cheerfully explained that if you want your PPH petition decided promptly, you can file a second petition.  This second petition is a petition under Rule 182, with a fee of $400 (smaller for small or micro entities), to ask that the PPH petition be decided promptly.

Anyway after we filed half a dozen of these $400 petitions, USPTO somehow allocated enough resources to the problem that PPH petitions were again being attended to promptly.  That was a couple of years ago.  But now USPTO has fallen behind again.

It sort of misses the point of PPH if USPTO fails to take up the PPH petitions promptly, seems to me.

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The ghost art unit at the USPTO

There’s a ghost art unit at the USPTO.  It has patent applications assigned to it, but it has no Examiners.  If you have the bad luck to have one of your patent applications assigned to this ghost art unit, the application will never get examined.  At least, it will never get examined for so long as it sits in this art unit.

At our firm we try to track the FOAPs — first office action predictions — for our pending patent applications.  We try to keep track of which art units are bogged down and which ones take up new applications sooner.  We stumbled upon the existence of this ghost art unit when we kept noticing that some of our pending applications had no FOAP at all.

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New USPTO “series code” for Hague Agreement cases

Those whose practice includes “inbound” Madrid Protocol trademark applications are accustomed to the series code “79”.  When you see a USPTO application number that starts with “79” you know that it is a trademark application number and that it came to the USPTO from the International Bureau of WIPO.  Someone who filed a Madrid Protocol trademark application (in a place other than the USPTO) must have designated the US.

Now the USPTO has picked the series code that it will use for Hague Agreement applications.

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