When an ADS turns out to be unsigned, or not correctly signed, or not signed by a practitioner, it leads to a cascade of problems. It often takes months or a lot of money, or both, to fix the problems. It would be trivially easy for Patentcenter to check an uploaded computer-readable Form PTO/AIA/14 (Application Data Sheet) such as we see at right, for a signature. But Patentcenter does not do so.
Patentcenter should check an uploaded ADS for a signature and should display warnings as needed. This is Feature Request FR24.
There are many, many problems that can follow if it turns out that an ADS was unsigned, or not correctly signed, or not signed by a practitioner. I discuss some of these problems in this article. These include failure of a non-pub request, failure of a designation of a non-inventor applicant, failure of a Power of Attorney to be recognized, and failure of a priority claim.
In the case where the ADS being filed is an uploaded computer-readable Form PTO/AIA/14, it would be trivially easy for Patentcenter to check for this. It is the sort of coding that a couple of competent coders could do in a weekend, if given soft drinks and their preferred takeout food, with part of Saturday and all of Sunday left over.
Part of the coding would be checking for virgule compliance, and that the name fields are non-empty. This code has already been written for Patentcenter, although the code is defective (bug report CP29) because it bounces some virgule signatures that are in fact Rule-compliant.
Another part of the coding would be to check to see whether there is already a non-inventor applicant established in the case, and if the answer is “yes”, then check to see whether the “registration number” field is non-empty. (Better yet, cross-check that field with the name and the OED list of registered practitioners.)
Another part of the coding would be to check to see whether the ADS is itself attempting to establish a non-inventor applicant, and if the answer is “yes”, then check to see whether the “registration number” field is non-empty. (Better yet, cross-check that field with the name and the OED list of registered practitioners.)
As for the last two validations, if they have not already been implemented in the Patentcenter web-based ADS, of course they should be implemented there as well.
This is Feature Request FR24.