From time to time I will encounter a patent practitioner who feels let down by the USPTO’s Application Assistance Unit. Indeed every now and then I will run into a practitioner who will say, surely in jest, that they feel the phrase “Application Assistance Unit” is an oxymoron. In my own experience, it is quite rare that the AAU fulfills its promise. A chief use case for the AAU is the filer who received a Notice indicating that there was some real or imagined flaw in an inventor’s declaration, or in an application data sheet, or in a power of attorney, and that the document involved is being bounced due to its real or imagined flaw. The Notice is invariably profoundly unhelpful and never actually comes out and says what exactly was supposedly wrong with the bounced document. The Notice always says that if you want to know what exactly was supposedly wrong with the bounced document, you can get the answer by placing a telephone call to the AAU. And in my experience, what never happens is the AAU actually answering the question.
So what can you do if you are not happy with how it went in your telephone call to the AAU?
Quite by random chance the other day I stumbled upon a web page on the USPTO web site that says:
If you have already contacted the AAU, we want to hear from you. Were you satisfied by the assistance provided by our staff? Please let us know what we can do to improve.
The page has a button “submit feedback” that launches your email client with the start of an email message to “AAUFeedback@uspto.gov” and with a subject line of “AAUFeedback”.
What I found, to my astonishment, is that this email address actually goes somewhere at the USPTO. Last week when I received particularly disappointingly poor service from the AAU, I wrote a detailed email message to this email address, recounting the several aspects of the interaction that I thought had gone particularly badly. And this is the amazing part. What happened the following day is an actual telephone call from a fairly highly placed person at the USPTO. After that, I received an actual email message from an even higher-placed person at the USPTO, who revealed for the first time what the supposed defect was in the Power of Attorney that I had filed.
So I guess the alert practitioner should keep this email address in reserve, for use in the occasional case where things have gone particularly poorly with the AAU.
Have you used this AAUFeedback contact? If so, how did it work for you? Please post a comment below.