USPTO gets it right — new way to pay issue fees

Note:  I was mistaken that USPTO did something right this time.  See my followup blog post.

USPTO gets credit for doing something right this time.

First a bit of background.  For many years, as many readers know, the process of paying an Issue Fee has been cumbersome and error-prone.  You take Form 85B and you copy and paste the various pieces of information onto the form.  (In our office we use the “typewriter” function of paid-for Acrobat to fill in the various fields.)  What happens then is that somebody at the USPTO hand-types the various pieces of information into USPTO systems for use in typesetting the to-be-issued patent.

We track this stuff pretty closely for our clients’ patents, and over the course of twenty years we have seen USPTO fat-finger the Form-85B information no less often than 2.8% of the time.  When this happens we often feel we must ask USPTO to issue a Certificate of Correction.  And what’s very unfortunate is that USPTO does not update its Full-Text database to reflect the the CofC.  In practical terms this means that a search in the Full-Text database that failed before the CofC (because USPTO misspelled, say, the assignee name) will still fail even after the issuance of the CofC.

So what is it that the USPTO got right this time? Continue reading “USPTO gets it right — new way to pay issue fees”

How to receive PCT communications electronically?

A member of the PCT listserv asks:

A colleague recently filed a PCT application with the USPTO and we’ve been receiving the notifications (such as the “Notification of the International Application Number and of the International Filing Date”, Form PCT/RO/105) by hard copy.
Is it possible to receive electronic versions of notifications concerning a PCT application?  If yes, how do I set it up to do so?
The answer is “yes” as I will now

Continue reading “How to receive PCT communications electronically?”

Is a PCT protest worthwhile?

A member of the PCT listserv posed a question earlier today:

I’d like to protest a lack of unity of invention finding from the ISA/US where the authorized officer has indicated that the first and second inventions share technical features known in the art at the time of the invention, and thus cannot be considered special technical features that would otherwise unify the groups.  The art used to support this finding is suspect and I will indicate the reasoning for my position in my protest.  I will also be paying the second search fee.

Has any listmate successfully protested such a finding from ISA/US?  If so, would you be willing to share your protest document?  I am debating how detailed to make my response.  How seriously can these protests be reviewed when they are free of charge?

I’ll talk a bit about PCT protests and I will try to answer this list member’s questions as best I can. Continue reading “Is a PCT protest worthwhile?”

Over-the-top as it relates to telephone services

(Summary:  SIP telephone service is really neat and you should learn about it and use it if you want to be trendy, modern, and up-to-date.)

“Over-the-top” is a general term for the Schumpeterian sort of disruption that we see over and over again as various categories of commerce get disrupted by new distribution mechanisms (generally involving the Internet).  We see the traditional world of record labels, a world in which ten or twenty years ago a handful of companies had a stranglehold on the distribution of music.  A world in which I had no choice but to purchase a “record album” of maybe ten tracks to get the one or two tracks that I actually wanted to listen to.  That traditional world is now in the past, replaced by an over-the-top world in which the consumer can download the one or two tracks of interest by clicking around on the Internet at iTunes or Amazon.

We see the traditional world of video entertainment, a world in which ten years ago a handful of cable TV and satellite TV companies had a stranglehold on the distribution of things like HBO and sports event broadcasts as parts of bundles of dozens or hundreds of channels which the consumer was forced to buy to get the two or three or four channels that the consumer actually wanted to watch.  That world is likewise gradually receding into the past, with OTT mechanisms like HBO Now and Netflix and Hulu and CBS All Access.

I’ve recently encountered some aspects of modern telephone service that also count as over-the-top, new services called “SIP” that bypass the traditional landline telephone companies and that will likely be as disruptive in the telephone world as the OTT services have been for music and video.  I will tell you about some of the SIP services. Continue reading “Over-the-top as it relates to telephone services”

Over-the-top entertainment redux

The last you heard from me about over-the-top entertainment was here (blog article) where I commented on the growing resolve at HBO that it might eventually be able to bypass its traditional distributiohbo-nownhbo-go mechanisms (cable TV companies and satellite TV companies) and distribute its programs straight to consumers.  This has now reached fruition.  Those who wish to be trendy, modern, and up-to-date will want to try out HBO Now as a successor to HBO Go. Continue reading “Over-the-top entertainment redux”

Adopting a digital wallet – now Android Pay

(Summary:  Install Android Pay on your smart phone and use it, because it is trendy and modern and up-to-date and greatly reduces the risk of someone misusing your credit card information.)

The last that you heard from me about digital wallets (blog article) wandroid-payas that Softcard, the non-Apple digital wallet, had bitten the dust, and that Google had rather carefully not actually purchased Softcard but instead merely purchased its IP (mostly, its pending patent applications).   This left Google Wallet as the successor app for Android phones.  Google Wallet was decidedly clunky in several ways.  Industry observers stood around waiting for Google’s next step, whatever it might turn out to be.  Now we can see Google’s next step.  It is Android Pay. Continue reading “Adopting a digital wallet – now Android Pay”

USPTO now provides PDF patents

In our patent firm, every day somebody needs to obtain afull-patent US patent or published US patent application as a PDF.  We send the PDFs to clients and foreign agents and we save them to our own file servers for internal use.

For many years USPTO went out of its way to make it very difficult for a user to obtain a copy of a US patent or published application, providing only TIF images (not PDFs) and those only one page at a time.  Users wanting a PDF had to use software such as GetIPDL which would download the TIF images one by one and stitch them together into a PDF.  Another approach for a user was to draw upon any of a number of private web sites for a multipage PDF of a patent.  Some of these private web sites charged money for the PDFs, and one of them tacked an advertising message across the bottom of the first page of the PDF.

Now the USPTO has quietly changed its PatFT (patents full text) and AppFT (patent application full text) databases so that with the click of a mouse, the user can view a multipage PDF containing all pages of a patent or published application.  With another click of the mouse (see the “full pages” button above), the user can download the PDF and make normal use of it.

Refreshingly, USPTO has done this in a way that tacks the Certificate of Correction (if any) onto the back of the PDF.

What one wishes, of course, is that USPTO would provide a “constructable” link which would directly yield the PDF file.  The wish is that a link along the lines of would retrieve a PDF of US patent number 7123456 and something similar for published US patent applications.  As far as I can see the new USPTO system does not provide such a constructable link.  Instead USPTO seems to have designed this new “full pages” link in a way that requires a human being to do the mouse clicks to obtain the PDF file.

Setting aside my disappointment about the lack of constructable links for the PDF files, the fact is that USPTO has moved closer toward actual user-friendliness in this area.  Kudos to the USPTO!

Fast appeals for Small Entities

Readers will recall that in June 2015, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced its two-for-one sale.  Any filer that had two ex parte appeals pending as of June 19, 2015 could get one of the appeals decided right away by dropping the other appeal.  When the PTAB announced this program, I blogged about it.  I noted that this program was likely to be of interest only to sophisticated, high-volume corporate filers, since only such filers would (a) have two appeals pending and (b) be in a position to make a decision to drop an appeal in a case that previously seemed important enough to appeal.  I noted that few if any small or micro entities would be able to use this program because they would not have two appeals pending (one of which would have to be dropped to qualify for the two-for-one program).  I predicted that very few filers (large or small) would actually choose to use this two-for-one program, and my prediction turned out to be correct.

Now the PTAB has announced a second program for getting ex parte appeals decided fast.  This second program, fetchingly named S-EPAP for Small Entities, is described in a Federal Register notice dated September 15, 2015 and on an FAQ page.  This program permits a small entity or micro entity to get an ex parte appeal decided fast under certain conditions.

It is interesting to note USPTO’s explanation for setting up this second fast-appeals program:

Members of the public noted that small entities having only one appeal pending before the PTAB would not be able to take advantage of the EPAP program to secure expedited review of an ex parte appeal.

It seems I was one of those “members of the public”.

So how does this second, new fast-appeals program work? Continue reading “Fast appeals for Small Entities”

PTAB’s two-for-one sale — three months on

Readers will recall that in June 2015 the Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced its Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot.  This is the program in which, if you have two ex parte appeals pending, you could abandon one of them and the PTAB would decide the other one faster.  I blogged about this program and I predicted that very few applicants would choose to use this program.  How did my prediction turn out? Continue reading “PTAB’s two-for-one sale — three months on”