Patentcenter Ack Receipt lies

Today in a particular patent application I uploaded two PDFs in Patentcenter.  The Ack Receipt says I uploaded five PDFs (which is not true).  When I try to match up the three non-existent PDFs that the Ack Receipt says I uploaded (which I did not) with the three supposedly corresponding PDFs in IFW, the file names do not match and the SHA-512 hashes (message digests) do not match and the file sizes do not match.  Nothing about this part of the Ack Receipt is true.  Continue reading “Patentcenter Ack Receipt lies”

Patentcenter lied in the ack receipt about the DOCX file that I uploaded

Now I have seen with my own eyes what others have reported.  Until I saw it myself I could not be sure.

Yes, it really is true that Patentcenter sometimes lies about what exactly the document is that the filer uploaded to Patentcenter.  The Acknowledgment Receipt sometimes lies.

This is a profoundly serious matter.

For what it’s worth, so far as I can see, the lying happens only with DOCX files.   It looks to me like the lying does not happen with PDF files.

It seems that customers who use Patentcenter are going to need to scrutinize their ack receipts very closely between now and such time as the Patentcenter developers get this corrected.

Continue reading “Patentcenter lied in the ack receipt about the DOCX file that I uploaded”

Pick a trouble ticket

This page is mostly for members of the Patentcenter listserv.  You should of course join the Patentcenter listserv if you have not done so already.  The goal of this page is to make it easy for people to pick trouble tickets and contribute to the communications with the USPTO about Patentcenter.  Here is the background.

Right now there are 289 members of the Patentcenter listserv.  Seventy-four members signed a letter Dated December 16, 2021 to Drew Hirshfeld, the Acting Director of the USPTO, as you may see here:  https://blog.oppedahl.com/?p=7307 .  The letter presented six “asks”:

  • Direct your Patentcenter developers to identify one or two people from their developer team to subscribe to the Patentcenter listserv to follow the postings. This might sometimes permit those people to pass things along from the listserv to appropriate colleagues on the Patentcenter developer team.
  • Direct your developers to formally adopt the Patentcenter listserv trouble ticket page as a “to do” list for trouble ticket action by the developers
  • Direct your developers to formally adopt the Patentcenter listserv feature request page as a place for the developers to receive feature requests for Patentcenter.
  • Direct your developers to report back to the people of the Patentcenter listserv each time the developers clear a trouble ticket, referencing the listserv trouble ticket number in the report.
  • Direct your developers to report back to the people of the Patentcenter listserv each time the developers implement a feature request, referencing the listserv feature request number in the report.
  • Direct your developers to cooperate with the people of the Patentcenter listserv by means of some periodic two-way communications by which the progress with trouble tickets and feature requests may be reviewed.

A few days ago, apparently prompted by the letter to Drew Hirshfeld, I received an email from one of the USPTO people in charge of the development of Patentcenter.  Of course what I would have hoped is that maybe this person would be calling to say that we will get our six “asks”.  That is not what happened during the telephone call.

What did happen is that after some discussion this person agreed to have his people get back to us with USPTO’s view as to its “clearance status” for a selected fraction of the trouble tickets.  By this I mean that his people will provide a table with rows and columns, with a row for each of a selected fraction of the tickets.  The trouble ticket page presently has 72 tickets number CP1 through CP72.  I had hoped to get the USPTO people to agree to provide such a table for all 72 tickets, but we did not get that.  Bargaining against myself, I then asked if they would provide such a table for all of the tickets for which the ticket number was a multiple of 3.  We did not reach agreement on this.  Bargaining further against myself, I then asked if they would provide such a table for all of the tickets for which the ticket number was a multiple of 4.  This they agreed to.  We will thus hear back, I imagine within a week or two, as to the USPTO’s assessment of the status of 18 of the 72 trouble tickets for Patentcenter.  I am sure you will agree with me that this is a very encouraging sign and a reason for guarded optimism as to possible further dialogue about the remaining 54 trouble tickets.

Another development is an agreement on a trial basis to have some small-group get-togethers between selected members of the listserv and selected people from the USPTO who are connected with the Patentcenter developer process.  These would be on a weekly basis.  The get-togethers would be set up so that there could be shared desktop activity.  A chief goal would be to provide opportunities for a listserv member to click and demonstrate or illustrate a particular trouble ticket.  A typical goal of this would be to assist the USPTO people for the tickets where the status is that the USPTO had not been able to reproduce the problem.  The hope would be that when the listserv person reproduces the problem and the USPTO people see it happening on the screen, this would help the USPTO better appreciate the problem being reported.  This might also permit the listserv people to explain verbally how the problem affects users or what might be done to fix the problem.  Maybe in some cases the USPTO people would be able to offer comments in response.

If you look at what I just wrote in the previous paragraph, what will jump out at you is that there is an extremely urgent need.  We need to figure out which particular tickets are the best candidates for discussion in these upcoming small-group get-togethers.  Tickets might fall into several categories.

Tickets that are already fixed.  If a particular bug has actually been fixed, and has been fixed correctly, then barring some surprise it seems to me that the ticket would not be a good candidate for discussion in the get-togethers.  But we want to be thoughtful about this.  It is possible to imagine that as for some particular ticket, the USPTO people might in all good faith think they had fixed the problem but it might actually be that with some particular inputs or application status, the problem still comes up.

Tickets where USPTO people say they are unable to reproduce the problem.  This strikes me as an area where the get-togethers could be very very helpful.  If a listserv member were able to pick out one or two sets of inputs that reliably demonstrate what goes wrong with some trouble ticket item, and if this can be shown on a shared desktop with the USPTO developers, just imagine how this could make a big difference for all of the people involved.

Tickets where the need is particularly urgent.  Some of the Patentcenter bugs strike me as particularly urgent.  I can think of several ways that we might think of a particular bug as being urgent. 

A bug that presents a big risk of loss of substantive rights, or a trap for the unwary.  There are some bugs that I think many of us would feel are urgent simply because the longer they go without being fixed, the more times some applicant will have gotten “burned” by a loss of rights or the need to spend money to fix a problem that should never have arisen.  I think of the bugs that have caused me to either lose a filing date or that have caused me to come very close to losing a filing date.  I think of the bugs where a perfectly good document like a scanned oath or declaration or a perfectly good scanned IDS got turned into a blank sheet of paper.

A bug where the developers really ought to have fixed it years ago.  I am thinking of the “last 40 ack receipts”.  Probably there are others in this category. 

Tickets where the fix is needed because supposedly the USPTO people are replicating functions of PAIR and EFS-Web.  Even now after four years since Patentcenter got launched, with the stated goal that all of the functions of PAIR and EFS-Web would be provided in Patentcenter, there are gaping voids, large and small.  For the longest time it was simply impossible to e-file any SFD (subsequently filed document, or follow-on submission) in any 35-series design patent application.  Finally they fixed that, sort of.  But even now, many seemingly ordinary recurring tasks that you can do in a 29-series design application, such as paying an Issue Fee, are not possible in a 35-series design application.  (Well, there is a workaround, but there is no good reason why a workaround should be needed.)  Right now if you decide you want to look at recent outgoing correspondence, it works in PAIR but broadly speaking it does not work in Patentcenter.  Right now if you want to “search by attorney docket number”, this is easy to do from a starting screen in PAIR, but if you want to try to do it in Patentcenter it is buried in layers of clicking. 

Back to “we need your help”.

So what we really need right now is to get a second pair of eyes, and a third pair of eyes, and fourth and fifth, on the trouble ticket list.  One reason this is needed is that if indeed the USPTO has fixed some particular bug, we might as well give them credit for it.  Shame on them if they never bothered to get back to us to tell us they think they fixed it, but that is a separate matter.  The fact is, if they have indeed fixed it, we might as well give them credit for it, and we need to know it is fixed so that we do not accidentally waste the precious and limited small-group meeting time talking about that instead of some ticket that needs fixing.

So each and every one of you practitioners and paralegals who belong to the Patentcenter listserv … please help.  Here is what you can do:

Please click “Generate” to pick a trouble ticket number.

Then please go to this page to see which ticket has that number.  Then please decide what you think about that trouble ticket.  Then please click here to report your findings.  Then please come back here to pick another trouble ticket.

If you are not a member of the Patentcenter listserv, please join now.  And then please join in this effort to evaluate the trouble tickets, so that we can make best use of this valuable opportunity for direct communication with some of the USPTO people responsible for Patentcenter.

Thank you.

Seventy-four members of the Patentcenter listserv write to the Acting Director of the USPTO

Here you can see a letter that seventy-four members of the Patentcenter listserv sent today to Drew Hirshfeld, the Acting Director of the USPTO.  You can track the priority mail envelope here. The letter makes six “asks”:

  • Direct your Patentcenter developers to identify one or two people from their developer team to subscribe to the Patentcenter listserv to follow the postings. This might sometimes permit those people to pass things along from the listserv to appropriate colleagues on the Patentcenter developer team.
  • Direct your developers to formally adopt the Patentcenter listserv trouble ticket page as a “to do” list for trouble ticket action by the developers.
  • Direct your developers to formally adopt the Patentcenter listserv feature request page as a place for the developers to receive feature requests for Patentcenter.
  • Direct your developers to report back to the people of the Patentcenter listserv each time the developers clear a trouble ticket, referencing the listserv trouble ticket number in the report.
  • Direct your developers to report back to the people of the Patentcenter listserv each time the developers implement a feature request, referencing the listserv feature request number in the report.
  • Direct your developers to cooperate with the people of the Patentcenter listserv by means of some periodic two-way communications by which the progress with trouble tickets and feature requests may be reviewed.

You can sign a letter about Patentcenter to the Acting Director of the USPTO

Maybe you have made use of Patentcenter, and have been disappointed with it.  Maybe you have seen the ever-growing list of Patentcenter trouble tickets. Maybe you are aware of the Patentcenter listserv, a group of users of Patentcenter that hopes to help the USPTO with correcting the bugs in Patentcenter.  Maybe you are aware that the USPTO has not been very responsive to repeated efforts by the listserv to set up two-way communications about Patentcenter.  

You could help with this by signing a letter to the Acting Director of the USPTO, Drew Hirshfeld.  You can see the letter here.  The letter will close for signatures in two days (Wednesday the 15th) and will get sent on Thursday the 16th.

 

USPTO seems to be of two minds about PDF layers and it wastes everybody’s time

When Adobe started to create the Acrobat PDF standard in 1992, it began as a fairly simple standard.  As the years passed, the PDF standard grew and grew, so that all manner of weird and poorly understood things could be tucked away inside a PDF file.  By now in 2021, a PDF file might contain multimedia content.  It might have a hyperlink to launch a web browser or email client or a VOIP telephone calling client.  It might be “locked” with a password to prevent editing.  It might contain metadata indicating who created or edited the PDF, or the type of software that generated the PDF.  I used to joke that Adobe had a defined datatype for embedding scents in PDF files and then was astonished to learn that this had actually been proposed some years ago in some PDF working group.  I gather that scent embedding in PDFs did not actually get implemented.

In the world of USPTO patent e-filing, the chief way that the inner workings of the PDF standard become challenging is that the programmers at the USPTO profess to be unable to handle certain kinds of “fonts”.  (In a separate blog article I will elaborate on this “font” challenge which is a completely artificial challenge that exists only because the USPTO programmers cause it to exist.)

The other way that the inner workings of the PDF standard are challenging in the world of USPTO patent e-filing is that the programmers at the USPTO (along with their colleagues who draft policy documents and their colleagues who carry out day-to-day work) cannot quite make up their minds about whether “layers” in a PDF file are a problem or not.  And that is the focus of this blog article.  This lack of clarity in the minds of USPTO people leads to wasted time for people at the USPTO and wasted time for patent practitioners and applicants, as I will describe.

Continue reading “USPTO seems to be of two minds about PDF layers and it wastes everybody’s time”

How it is going with feature requests and enhancements for Patentcenter

In a previous blog article I reviewed USPTO’s progress with fixing known bugs in Patentcenter.  In this blog article I now review USPTO’s progress in implementing feature requests and enhancements that beta users have asked USPTO to provide in Patentcenter.

By way of comparison, patent practitioners are accustomed to the responsiveness of WIPO when users suggest improvements and enhancements to the ePCT system.  It is commonplace to see user-friendly features that get added to ePCT specifically because users have asked for them.  WIPO personnel are subscribed to all of the relevant listservs and user groups for PCT users, and frequently it will be seen that a bug will get fixed or a feature will get added specifically because a WIPO person will have responded to a question or a comment in a listserv or in a discussion group.

If you have not already done so, you should join the PCT listserv and the Patentcenter listserv.

With this background, one might hope that USPTO would from time to time respond to suggestions and feature requests from user groups by implementing requested features or enhancements in Patentcenter.  It is this hope that prompted me to carry out a review recently of the Patentcenter feature request list to see what progress USPTO has made.  This blog article summarizes my findings.  Continue reading “How it is going with feature requests and enhancements for Patentcenter”

How things are going with bug fixes in USPTO’s Patentcenter

Patentcenter is still nominally in beta test, but USPTO seems to be plowing ahead with its plans to force all applicants to e-file patent applications in Microsoft Word format (the Microsoft Word dialect of DOCX) and has long ago stopped any development or feature enhancements for EFS-Web or PAIR.  USPTO has said it will shut down EFS-Web and PAIR and users will have no choice but to use Patentcenter to do the things that have in the past been done through EFS-Web and PAIR.  So what is the progress at the USPTO with fixing the known bugs in Patentcenter

There is a Patentcenter beta tester user community, tied together by the Patentcenter listserv.  (Interested persons should join that listserv.)  A committee from the listserv met last autumn with some USPTO developers and it was hoped that this might lead to some progress with fixing some of the bugs in Patentcenter.  It was also hoped that USPTO would listen to users and implement some of the enhancements and features requested by users.  

About four months ago, it was explored that the committee might meet again with USPTO people to review the bug list and to see what progress USPTO had been made with the bug list.  Some time has passed and the meeting had not yet happened.  So to save time, I have prepared this report that summarizes my best assessment of USPTO’s progress with the bug list.  Maybe some time soon the meeting will be able to take place and there will be an opportunity for further dialog.  In the mean time, this blog article reviews USPTO’s progress in this area.  (Preview:  things look grim.) 

In a subsequent blog article I will review USPTO’s progress with the list of requested feature enhancements for Patentcenter.  (Preview:  things look grim in that area as well.)

Continue reading “How things are going with bug fixes in USPTO’s Patentcenter”

Patentcenter fails to tell you what application you are filing in

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One category of recurring task in any e-filing system is what might be termed a “follow-on submission” or a “subsequently filed document”.  With such a task, you somehow indicate the application number of the application in which you wish to file your document.  Clearly one of the most important user interface goals is to help the user avoid an undesired result of inadvertently filing a document in the wrong application.   EFS-Web gets this right.  WIPO’s ePCT system gets this right.  But Patentcenter fails, as may be seen from the screen shot at right.  Continue reading “Patentcenter fails to tell you what application you are filing in”

How to overcome the login defects in Patentcenter

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It can be very difficult to log in at Patentcenter, which is the system that USPTO intends will replace Private PAIR and EFS-Web.  Given that USPTO plans to shut down both Private PAIR and EFS-Web in the near future, what follows from this is that the USPTO needs to fix the many design flaws and software bugs in Patentcenter.  Many of the flaws and bugs in Patentcenter have been outstanding since its alpha-test launch more than two years ago, and have not been fixed even after more than two years.  Today’s blog article talks about a trick that often helps with the login defects in Patentcenter. Continue reading “How to overcome the login defects in Patentcenter”