We remember those bad old days when DO/EO/US was taking a year and a half to get around to mailing a Filing Receipt in a newly filed entry into the US national phase. The backlog of unattended-to US national-phase filings had gotten so bad that DO/EO/US had to set up a special processing queue for cases in which the applicant had filed a PCT-PPH petition. The idea was that a case deserving of “special” status should not languish for a year or more just because DO/EO/US had fallen so far behind.
Within the past year or two DO/EO/US has managed to be much more prompt about this important task of mailing Filing Receipts. And along with this improvement, DO/EO/US had dropped the special processing queue for cases in which the applicant had filed a PCT-PPH petition.
And indeed in recent months we have seen stretches of time during which many cases were receiving their Filing Receipts a mere two or three weeks after the date that the applicant has perfected the entry into the US national phase.
What’s a bit baffling, however, is to see that there is now more of a spread in the period of delay at DO/EO/US. While a large plurality of cases recently do receive their Filing Receipts promptly (within two or three weeks), an ever-growing fraction of cases sit for some months, untouched by DO/EO/US.
For a case that was not going to get examined any time soon, this is perhaps not a big deal. But for a case in which a Highway petition has been filed, the lack of attention by DO/EO/US goes against USPTO’s policy reasons for supporting the Patent Prosecution Highway in the first place.
What shines a bright light on this is the recent super improvement by the Office of Patent Petitions which, after falling terribly behind, has in recent months done much better in handling of Highway petitions. A year ago it was commonplace to see Highway petitions that had languished for six or seven months untouched by the Office of Patent Petitions. But nowadays the OPP gets kudos for granting Highway petitions in just two to four weeks.
So back to the promptness of DO/EO/US to mail Filing Receipts. As I say, these days a large plurality of cases recently do receive their Filing Receipts promptly (within two or three weeks). But we have cases with granted Highway petitions that still do not have a Filing Receipt despite having the national phase perfected as long ago as May 25 (about four months ago).
One wishes that the managers of DO/EO/US would generate a report from time to time that lists old cases that lack Filing Receipts, and that somebody would try to figure out why the old cases don’t get worked on. Are the laggard cases all assigned to particular laggard workers, for example? I assume that many workers in DO/EO/US work from home. Are the laggard cases all assigned to people who work from home?