Late Outgoing Correspondence Notifications from the USPTO

What one would hope is that the USPTO would send its Outgoing Correspondence Notifications promptly.

In our office we look closely at each OCN email closely.  We receive several of them each day from the USPTO, one for each of our customer numbers in which there has been outgoing correspondence from the USPTO.  One reason the OCNs are important is that they prompt us to set dockets in our docketing systems.  A second reason the OCNs are important is that we assign tasks to people within our office, to attend to the various items of outgoing correspondence.

Sometimes we have a file in which we are waiting anxiously for USPTO to do something or another, so that we can take some related action.   In such a file the OCN is an important trigger for us to take the related action.

What’s unfortunate is that in recent weeks we have run into many instances where, for a particular item of outgoing correspondence from the USPTO, its associated OCN is late. 

As one example, we have a case that is in Supplemental Examination.  The case has now proceeded to reexamination.  The USPTO just now (December 19) got around to sending the Outgoing Correspondence Notification email for an Office Action.  And yet the Office Action has actually been in IFW since December 15, four days ago.

In our case we learned about the Office Action on the day it actually happened, but no thanks to the USPTO!  We checked IFW manually on that day and that is how we learned about it.  We were thus able to report it promptly to the client.  But had we not been checking the file manually on a daily basis, our report to the client would have been four days late.

In another of our cases, we received a Notice of Allowance a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately USPTO had made some mistakes in the application.  What we did not want to do is to pay the Issue Fee at a time when USPTO had not yet corrected the mistakes. If we were to pay the Issue Fee at a time when USPTO had not yet corrected the mistakes, there was a risk that USPTO might issue the patent with the mistakes in the patent.

We asked the USPTO to correct the various mistakes and then watched the file closely to see if and when USPTO corrected the mistakes.  The idea was that as soon as the USPTO corrected the last of the mistakes, we would pay the Issue Fee.

The USPTO corrected the various mistakes one by one, until there was one last remaining mistake relating to the sequence of inventors in the inventor list.  What we were waiting for at this point was a Corrected Filing Receipt showing the inventors in the correct sequence.

Just yesterday by chance we happened to look in IFW and we found, to our surprise, that USPTO had quietly placed a Corrected Filing Receipt into the file on December 12.  But even now, a week later, USPTO has not sent us an Outgoing Correspondence Notification for this Corrected Filing Receipt.

As I say, by chance we happened to learn about the Corrected Filing Receipt.  This is because we were checking IFW manually.  We learned that a week ago, the USPTO had finally gotten around to correcting the sequence of the inventors in the inventor list.  So we have now paid the Issue Fee.

But even now, USPTO has not sent us an Outgoing Correspondence Notification for this Corrected Filing Receipt.

Have you run into problems with delayed OCNs?  Please post a comment about this.

3 thoughts on “Late Outgoing Correspondence Notifications from the USPTO

  1. Yup. Delayed notices of petition decisions are the norm – for some reason these aren’t immediately loaded into the IFW but are first sent by snail mail and then 10-15 days later they appear in the IFW. And in recent months we’ve often been getting OCNs a day after the correspondence appears in the IFW.

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