PAIR has two modes — “Public PAIR” and “Private PAIR”. EFS-Web has two modes as well, a signed-in mode and a not-signed-in mode. So it is more or less to be expected that the USPTO developers of Patentcenter set it up so that there is a signed-in mode and a not-signed-in mode. The user interface of Patentcenter does an extremely poor job of letting you know if you have shifted from signed-in mode to not-signed-in mode and vice versa. But after one has used Patentcenter for some time one eventually picks up that one can figure it out by closely watching the blue menu bar at the top of the page. If you see five choices in that blue bar, it means one thing:
If you see eight choices in that blue bar, it means something else:
Can you guess which blue bar means which? Yes, you would probably guess that whichever menu bar has more choices, probably that is the menu bar that means your status is “signed-in”. And that is indeed the situation.
The main point of this blog article is that there is something defective in Patentcenter, probably at some very deep level, in the way that Patentcenter keeps track of whether you are signed in or you are not.
If you are signed in, this status is supposed to last a minimum of some period of time. If I recall correctly, that period of time is thirty minutes. So for example if you just e-filed something in Patentcenter, and less than thirty minutes have passed, you should be able to click around in the workbench in Patentcenter and you should be able to see the applications in your workbench.
But what many in the Patentcenter listserv have noticed is that the signed-in status in Patentcenter often disappears long before the end of the 30-minute timeout period. When it does so, this happens without notice. No pop-up asking you if you wish to continue being logged in.
I imagine this defect in Patentcenter is at some very deep level in the system, given how important it is for Patentcenter to keep track of which files each logged-in user is permitted to see.
This is a big problem in Patentcenter. It has trouble ticket number CP35.