Just now I wrote to David Gooder, the Commissioner for Trademarks, asking him to please pass along thanks to some of his people. Here is part of what I wrote to him today, edited slightly for blog style. The main point is that today, the Trademark Office was nice to its customers and to the listserv community.
As many readers of this blog know, some twenty years ago my firm developed the Feathers! software and released it for use free of charge by the trademark community. Feathers! worked by sending queries to the TARR system. It permitted trademark applicants and practitioners to check the status of their pending US trademark applications and US trademark registrations.
Within the past year, the Trademark Office has found it necessary to take a variety of protective steps in response to aggressive data mining by some third parties, third parties who drew too heavily upon the TSDR system. The eventual side effect of the protective steps, a side effect which could not be helped, was that Feathers! was not able to function any more.
One of the members of the Feathers! community, a professional colleague Greg McLemore, has been working recently to develop new software (“IP Badger”) that is intended to make use of the Trademark Office’s more recent API that permits retrieval of XML data in an orderly way from the TSDR system. (You can read about the API here.) Several members of the Feathers! listserv are now assisting by beta-testing the IP Badger software. The goal is that the IP Badger software will hopefully serve as a near substitute for the old Feathers! software, and will hopefully provide some additional functionality that will be helpful for applicants and practitioners.
Which brings me around to the main point of what I am writing now. Today Greg and I were extended the courtesy of a telephone conference call with Greg Dodson, who is the Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Administration, and with some of his colleagues in the Trademark Office. From our perspective as Trademark Office customers the conference call was very helpful and very productive. It will help Greg McLemore in his software development efforts. That will in turn be helpful to the listserv community.
It was very clear to me as an intellectual property attorney who also has a strong computer background that Mr. Dodson had gone to quite some lengths today to bring in several very knowledgeable colleagues of his for the conference call.
I asked Commissioner Gooder if he might be willing to pass along our thanks to Mr. Dodson, with the hope that Mr. Dodson could in turn pass along our thanks to his colleagues.
At the risk of stating the obvious, with a large organization like the USPTO it is sometimes difficult or even impossible to get in direct touch with USPTO people on technical issues and on software development issues. Today, however, offered a reminder that there are departments within the USPTO that are willing and able to be customer friendly and user friendly. It is refreshing to be reminded that there are such areas within the USPTO.