The Office of Patent Application Processing could be nicer to applicants. Were OPAP to do so, this would promote science and the useful arts.
Now we get to go on a sort of a guessing game (or maybe we can call it a treasure hunt), trying to guess which of these six transgressions we committed.
- did we fail to hand in the filing fee on filing day?
- did we fail to hand in the search fee on filing day?
- did we fail to hand in the examination fee on filing day?
- did we fail to hand in the signed inventor’s declaration on filing day?
- did we fail to provide at least one claim on filing day?
- did we “file by reference”?
I did some digging and clicking. No, we paid all the fees on filing day. So that’s not it. We handed in an inventor’s oath or declaration. I guess that’s not it. Did we forget to upload the claims on filing day? No, we uploaded the claims on filing day, so that’s not it. Did we “file by reference”, maybe by accidentally checking the wrong box in the ADS? No, after careful scrutiny of what we filed, I concluded that this was not the explanation.
After this digging and clicking around in the file, I recalled what had happened. Instructions had come in from foreign counsel asking us to file this application. Foreign counsel had provided signed inventor declarations for two of the three inventors, and we were still waiting for for foreign counsel to provide a signed inventor declaration from the third inventor. So in this case the Notice of Missing Parts was to be expected.
But please, OPAP. How about providing six little check boxes instead of six little bullet points? How about letting the applicant know which of the six transgressions is being complained about?
It would not be so bad if it were possible to phone up the person who signed this Notice (in this case a person named “dnguyen”). But it’s impossible to do that. It is absolutely impossible to reach Mr. or Ms. Nguyen on the telephone. All that one can do is phone up the Application Assistance Unit. If you do this, you simply add another person to the guessing game. The AAU person tries to guess which of the six transgressions it is, just like you.
So how about it? Presumably at the time of preparing the Notice, Mr. or Ms. Nguyen knew perfectly well which of the six transgressions triggered the Notice. So why not redesign the form ever so slightly, providing six little check boxes? Then Mr. or Ms. Nguyen could check the relevant box. This would, in many cases, eliminate the need for the applicant to phone up the AAU. This would eliminate the time-wasting telephone call in which the AAU person joins in the guessing came as to the reason why Mr. or Ms. Nguyen mailed the Notice.
This would actually save money for the USPTO, because it would reduce the number of otherwise unnecessary and time-wasting calls to the AAU.
And this would promote science and the useful arts.
Share your experience with unhelpful Notices from OPAP. Post a comment below.