A trademark application that will get refused

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(Update:  Yes, as I predicted the Examining Attorney has refused registration because the “the” is “merely ornamental”.  You can see this blog article with an update.)

It is all over the news that Ohio State University has filed a trademark application for the word “the”.  I predict that the USPTO will mail an Office Action refusing registration in this trademark application.  Here’s why. Continue reading “A trademark application that will get refused”

A mistake for USPTO to correct in one of its forms

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USPTO’s form PTO/AIA/01/DE (version of June 2012) uses a wrong word as quoted at right, and needs to be corrected.

The English word of interest here “application” which the form incorrectly translates as “Bewerbung”.  That German word only makes sense as for example a job application, not a patent application.  The correct German word in the context of a patent application is “Anmeldung”.


USPTO fails to support DOCX from non-Microsoft word processors

One of the fundamental requirements in the design of an important system like USPTO’s system for e-filing patent applications is that the system should not force the customer to purchase any particular proprietary software as a precondition of use of the system.

USPTO’s initiative to try to force customers to file patent applications in DOCX format is an example of a failure to satisfy that requirement. Continue reading “USPTO fails to support DOCX from non-Microsoft word processors”

Monitoring status of US patent applications

How may one monitor the status of a list of US patent applications?  Clearly one way to do this is to set up a routine and to carry out manual steps of logging into PAIR daily to check the status.  This is tedious and error-prone.  What about USPTO’s Patent Docket widget in its MyUSPTO system?  Is this a reliable way to monitor the status of a list of US patent applications?  Continue reading “Monitoring status of US patent applications”

The problem with USPTO’s proposed non-DOCX penalty

(Update:  it is time for you, dear reader to consider signing another letter.  See blog posting.)

Until now, it has been optional for a practitioner to file a US patent application in DOCX format rather than in PDF format.  But USPTO now proposes to charge a $400 penalty for filing a patent application in non-DOCX format.  This is a very bad idea, for reasons that I will discuss in detail.  Only if USPTO were to make fundamental changes in its way of receiving DOCX files would it be acceptable for USPTO to impose a penalty for filing in a non-DOCX format.

USPTO needs to follow WIPO’s example, permitting the practitioner to file a “pre-conversion format” version of a patent application along with the DOCX file.  In the event of some later problem with USPTO’s rendering of the DOCX file, the practitioner would be permitted to point to the pre-conversion format, which would control in the event of any discrepancy.

Continue reading “The problem with USPTO’s proposed non-DOCX penalty”

Poor quality writing and its consequences

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Poor quality writing usually only has modest consequences.  In a bookstore, the consequence might be that the customer who considered buying a book puts it down and does not purchase it.  In a teaching document, the consequence might be that the document does not explain things as well as might be desired, and the reader might have to read it twice to get its meaning.

Consider, though, the possible consequence of poor quality writing in an emergency sign in a public building.  Here, the writer apparently had a goal of letting deaf persons know how to know that there is an alarm:


The insertion of “looks like” needlessly adds a qualification that makes the reader wonder something like this:

Well, I wonder why they said this?  I guess it is not actually a strobe light but in some way it merely “looks like” a strobe light.  Do they mean that it is shaped like a strobe light or is encased in a clear plastic lens like a strobe light but is otherwise in some important way different from an actual strobe light?

I respectfully suggest that the writer could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by coming out and saying it rather than beating around the bush:


Better yet, the writer could have skipped completely any assumption that the reader already was familiar with strobe lights or, more particularly, that the reader knows what a strobe light “looks like”.  The writer probably really should simply have said


We can also look at the sentence:


Once again I suggest the reader is unnecessarily forced to second-guess along these lines:

Okay, so I am hearing a horn.  It cannot be the alarm, because they said the alarm merely “sounds like” a horn rather than saying that the alarm “is” a horn.  So I wonder what is being communicated by this horn?  

Better would have been to say:


or better yet:


How would you have worded such a sign?  Please post a comment below.