Patent assignments now visible on the web!

The USPTO did a nice thing today.  As of today, youAOTW can receive a PDF copy of a recorded patent assignment!

Until now, the only way to get a copy of a patent assignment was to place an order with the Order Entry Management System and pay $25.  And then wait a couple of weeks for the copy to show up in the mail.

But now, thanks to alert reader Rick Neifeld, I have learned that you can get it for free, and you can get it instantly.  The way to make this work requires the user to learn a few steps, but once you learn it, it’s easy.

A first thing to appreciate is that you can’t start with the “assignments” tab of PAIR.  You need to go to Assignments on the Web (Patents).  Then do a search.  You can search on any of the usual things — application number, patent number, whatever.  Eventually you will figure out the reel and frame number that you care about.  Click on the reel and frame number to get to a page that is specific to your reel and frame number.  You will then see a page like the screen shot above (click on the image to see it bigger).  Look for a barely visible icon just to the right of the word “details” (marked with a green rectangle), and click on it.  What will pop up is a PDF copy of the recordation cover letter and the assignment itself.

This is a welcome development at the USPTO!  USPTO deserves kudos for providing this helpful service.


USPTO patent application numbers way out of sequence?

A member of the EFS-Web listserv posted this question to the listserv earlier today:

I filed a national phase application earlier today on EFS-Web and the list of documents on the electronic receipt is complete, but it still hasn’t shown up on Private PAIR yet so I’m not sure.  The thing that makes me wonder is I noticed that the assigned application number has a lower numeric value than another (continuation) application filed a couple of months ago in a different family.
Does anyone else think this is weird?  I have the receipt so I should be able to get the filing date but I find it odd that the application number is lower and wonder if there is some problem.


His question is a very interesting question.  Here is the answer. Continue reading “USPTO patent application numbers way out of sequence?”

USPTO does very well lately with PPH requests

Readers will recall my blog posts over the past year or so, complaining about the USPTO’s having fallen so far behind in handling requests for Patent Prosecution Highway status.  I had reported delays of six months or more.

But now in recent weeks the USPTO has done much, much better.  We track these things pretty closely at our firm, and the improvement is very striking.  Here are some examples: Continue reading “USPTO does very well lately with PPH requests”

Financial Manager gradually restores search functionality

USPTO’s new Financial Manager system is supposed to be a replacement to the much-loved system that came before, called Financial Profile.  For many many years FP would let the user do a search for transactions of interest and the search could, if desired, be carried out across all possible payment methods.

For our billing staff an example of a daily recurring task was to do a search looking for all of the payments that happened since two days ago, across all of our (approximately a dozen) payment methods.

With FP this was a matter of a few mouse clicks.

And of course what the designers of FM were supposed to do (but did not do very well) was to replicate the user functions of FP in FM.  Unfortunately when USPTO released FM, the FM system did not permit any search across all payment methods.  It meant for example that our billing staff were forced to do about a dozen searches each day instead of a single search, so as to identify all of the transactions that had happened in the past day or two.

One annoying aspect of FM was that when USPTO released FM, on April 8, 2016, USPTO shut down FP.  So if some important feature in FP was missing from FM, there was nothing the customer could do about it.  USPTO should have kept FP running in parallel with FM until all of the features of FP had been migrated over to FM.

I blogged about this search-across-all-payment-methods deficiency on June 29, 2016.

I am delighted to be able to report that on August 10, USPTO finally migrated the search-across-all-payment-methods feature to FM.

For four months (starting with the abrupt shut-down of FP), customers were denied the feature.  But now the feature is back.

This is a welcome development.

Now let’s hope that the USPTO folks can keep up the good work, providing for example the user features that I detailed in this blog article on June 22, 2016.

Financial Manager forcing password changes

Some months ago I griped that the USPTO’s new Financial Manager system had a much-too-short sixty-day period for forcing users to change passwords.  (Fourth bad thing about FM, blog post of June 22, 2016.)

After this, some listserv members reported doing password changes and being told by FM that the next change would be six months in the future.  This sounded like good news to me.

I also found, as of a couple of months ago, that when the FM system would force me to change my password, I could simply “change” it to the same password that I was using before.

Now it seems there have been at least two customer-unfriendly steps backwards.  The time period for forced expiration of an FM password seems to have been cut back to a mere sixty days again.  And the system now refuses to let me enter the same password as before.  Indeed someone at the USPTO with too much time on their hands has gone to the trouble of coding this step so that I am denied the ability to use any of the previous twenty-four passwords that I have used before.

Again this makes things less secure, rather than more secure.  It guarantees that the user will have no choice but to write the password down and tape it to the computer monitor.

We customers are grown-ups and we can make our own decisions what sort of password we are happy with.  (It’s not good that the system imposes unnecessary requirements about the password having to contain a capital letter and lower-case letter and a smiley face and a punctuation mark and a numerical digit, and requiring that it be at least twenty-four characters in length, and so on.)

We can make our own decisions when we want to change our passwords.  (It’s not good that the system forces a change every sixty days.)


USPTO makes a little progress on web server security

Back in August of 2014 I blogged about the urgent need for USPTO to use “https://” instead of “https://” in all of its servers.  In June of 2015 I noted that USPTO had made no progress on this, so I blogged about it again.  I am delighted to be able to report that USPTO has now made a baby step.  On August 11, 2016, USPTO made an announcement about this.

Continue reading “USPTO makes a little progress on web server security”

USPTO failed to go to Capitol Hill about the massive system crash

It will be recalled that USPTO had a massive systems crash on December 22, 2015 which shut down every one of USPTO’s external-facing e-commerce systems, including the EFS-Web system for filing of patent applications and the TEAS system for filing of trademark applications.

On December 23, 2015 USPTO purported to “deem” December 22 and 23 to be holidays.  The next day, I pointed out (see blog article) that USPTO probably lacked the power to do this.  I said that the USPTO needed to head over to Capitol Hill to get a special bill passed which would cause December 22 and 23, 2015 to be real holidays (for purposes of the USPTO).

It was, of course, only a matter of time before the USPTO’s power to “deem” a day to be a federal holiday in the District of Columbia would be tested in litigation.  And now that day has come. Continue reading “USPTO failed to go to Capitol Hill about the massive system crash”

Excellent guidance on Hague design drawings

When you get ready to file an international design application (a “Hague application”) you have no choice but to try to figure out what to do about drawings, with the goal of (hopefully) satisfying the requirements of each Office that you are planning to designate.

In the early days of Hague, most Offices that belonged to Hague were “registration” Offices, meaning that they checked formalities but did not do much in the way of substantive examination.  But in recent times more and more Offices that have recently joined are Offices that do carry out some amount of substantive examination.  Perhaps the Office in which an applicant would be most likely to run into trouble would be the USPTO.

And indeed it is true that some Hague applications that designate the US have been running into problems because of the drawings.

WIPO, together with various of the designated Offices, have developed guidelines for applicants.  You can see the guidelines here.

These guidelines should be studied by any applicant that is planning to designate Hungary, Japan, Kyrgystan, South Korea, Moldova, Romania, Syria, or the US.

Keep in mind that for a US applicant, one option offered by the Hague Agreement is that the US applicant could designate the US.  (I call this a “hairpin turn”.)  Such a US applicant should likewise study these guidelines.