(Update: It took eight days, but yes the EBC did eventually get this application fixed in IFW. Now we are able to see correctly in IFW what we actually filed in Patentcenter in this patent application. What a relief!)
In a previous blog article I applauded USPTO for doing real alpha-testing of its Patentcenter system with real revenue customers. And invited readers to recognize the contributions of the alpha testers themselves, who for more than a year now have been doing real patent filings in this system which will some day replace both EFS-Web and Private PAIR. Here is an example of what it is like to be an alpha tester.
When you are an alpha tester of Patentcenter, you try to pick and choose how to do things. Are you filing some patent application on the Last Possible Day? If so, then maybe you don’t take the chance of filing it in Patentcenter, given that Patentcenter might bollix it up. On the other hand, do you have a couple of weeks left before the Last Possible Day? If so, then maybe this patent application is a good candidate for Patentcenter because then if it blows up, you could if necessary file the application all over again in EFS-Web and clean things up later.
So here is a case that I filed on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 in Patentcenter. I selected Patentcenter rather than EFS-Web as my filing path because the case is claiming priority from a foreign application dated September 21, 2018. This leaves some time to straighten things out if Patentcenter were to bollix things up.
And wow, did Patentcenter bollix things up! I filed the usual things. A specification, claims, abstract, drawings, inventor declaration, application data sheet. Oh and sort of as an afterthought I tossed in a Power of Attorney. I decided to take a walk on the wild side by e-filing the specification and claims and abstract by means of DOCX files generated by Libre Office. I then did what a patent filer always does. After e-filing the patent application, I looked in PAIR to see what I had just filed.
Imagine how you would feel if you had just filed a US patent application, and if this (above, right) is what you were to see in IFW. This is only the first of three pages of documents in IFW. The only thing in IFW, and it appears forty times, is the Power of Attorney. Nowhere in IFW can you see the specification, or the claims, or the abstract, or the drawings. Nowhere in IFW can you see the inventor declaration or the ADS.
Oddly yes the ADS did auto-load into Palm. The priority information is in Palm (and thus in PAIR). The inventor names, the applicant name, the fees that I paid, they are all visible in PAIR.
But I cannot see the e-filing ack receipt in IFW.
No, the only thing I can see in IFW is forty copies of the Power of Attorney.
I phoned up the EBC when I saw this. The EBC folks swear up and down that I really did e-file a spec and claims and abstract and drawings. They swear up and down that they can see these things in “their back-end system”. The EBC folks swear up and down that Real Soon Now it will get straightened out and I will be able to look in IFW and see what I actually e-filed.
Now today it is September 1, and still this is the only thing that can been seen in IFW. Two whole business days have come and gone, and the folks at the USPTO have not yet managed to get this patent application straightened out in IFW.
This is what it is like, sometimes, to be an alpha tester of Patentcenter.
Several dozen other firms also have been serving as alpha testers of Patentcenter for the past year or so. They have all encountered things that were this strange or were even stranger, when filing a patent application or responding to an Office Action or paying an Issue Fee. They take risks with their clients’ patent applications, they struggle with not-yet-ready-for-prime-time USPTO user interfaces and systems. They report bugs and defects. And you, dear reader, when you become a user of Patentcenter, you will benefit from the work of these many alpha testers.
As I mentioned in the previous blog article, I know who many of the alpha testers are for Patentcenter but I am not comfortable naming them without their permission. If you are an alpha tester of Patentcenter, feel free to post a comment below to say so.