From time to time I have commented upon nice things about ePCT. Here is one more. Don’t you just hate it when a patent office designs some system so that the user only finds out at the very end, after filling in lots of fields and doing lots of clicking, that it isn’t going to work? Or worse yet, the user finds out only days or weeks later that it isn’t going to work?
So here we have the exact opposite. Let’s suppose you are getting ready to do an “action” in ePCT to provide a DAS access code. (The idea of course is to enable the IB to use DAS to retrieve an electronic certified copy of a priority document.) But the problem of course is that the Office of First Filing might not yet have made the priority document “available to DAS”. Even if the OFF said it has done this, it might not be true.
If this were almost any other patent office than WIPO, the sequence of steps would be that you fill in lots of data fields and do lots of clicking, and maybe click “submit”. For example at the USPTO, you would be filling in Form PTO/SB/38 with the following nine fields:
- application number
- option B box checked
- two-letter ISO-3166 code in column A
- priority application number in column B (formatted to match USPTO picky format)
- priority filing date (formatted American style, not metric style)
- DAS access code
- printed name
- printed practitioner registration number
If there were any real or imagined flaw in your work completing these nine fields, you would later receive a scolding letter from the USPTO letting you know that your electronic certified copy of the priority document had not been retrieved. How much later? Certainly at least a few days later, and maybe only after the dreaded 4-and-16 date had come and gone, meaning that you would need to pay a $400 penalty and file a petition for forgiveness for having failed to hand in the certified copy timely.
One of the ways that you might have failed in this effort with Form PTO/SB/38 is that maybe the Office of First Filing had failed to make the priority document “available to DAS”. And to emphasize the striking lack of user-friendliness at the USPTO, this bad news would be delivered to you only days or weeks later.
So with this background having been set, let’s see how the folks at WIPO have set up this “action” in ePCT. Yes, the folks at WIPO designed this “action” so that if there is bad news about the Office of First Filing having failed to make the priority document “available to DAS”, then you will be told instantly and before you have completed any fields at all or done any clicking at all.
Another thing to consider is that there might be some other explanation for the message marked in green in the screen shot above. As a first example, what if the filer had keyed in the priority application number inaccurately? This would once again be announced to the filer instantly if the system being used is ePCT.
As a second example, what if the filer had keyed in the priority filing date inaccurately? (Think of the hapless US filer who keyed in a filing date of June 5 as if it were May 6.) This would once again be announced to the filer instantly if the system being used is ePCT.
As a third example, what if the filer had keyed in the two-letter code for the Office of First Filing inaccurately? This would once again be announced to the filer instantly if the system being used is ePCT.
The way this came up for me in the PCT application mentioned above was that we had e-filed Form PTO/SB/39 only very recently. This meant that the USPTO had only very recently supposedly made the application “available to DAS”. The real situation is that even though the USPTO may say that it has made an application available to DAS, it is not really true because the USPTO’s internal workflow takes two or three days.
So the way to find out whether the USPTO has actually followed through on its (premature) representation that it supposedly made the application “available to DAS” is quite easy. It is just a couple of mouse clicks in ePCT.
So, folks, here we have Yet Another Nice Thing About ePCT (YANTAePCT). You find out instantly if the DAS retrieval request is not going to work. The contrast with USPTO, where the bad news will arrive only days or weeks later, is striking.
Oh and the nice things about this “action” in ePCT are not limited to delivering bad news right away instead of letting you know only days or weeks later. Another nice thing about this “action” in ePCT is that the ePCT system automatically pre-populates nearly all of the data fields in this “action”. Instead of your having to complete nine fields of data, you only have to enter one field, namely the DAS access code itself. That’s it. In this ePCT “action”, all of the other fields are pre-populated for you based on previous information that you provided in your previous e-filing activities.
Note: the alert reader will recall that on February 6, 2022 I announced (blog article) that Real Soon Now I would be offering fifteen webinars about ePCT. I keep sort of hoping that I would get these webinars scheduled. I hope to get them scheduled Real Soon Now. 🙂