USPTO will be closed Friday, December 26

The USPTO will be closed Friday, December 26, 2014.  Any action or fee due on Friday, December 26, 2014, would be considered timely if filed on the next succeeding business day, specifically, Monday, December 29, 2014.  You can see this on the USPTO web site here and here.

A big thank you goes to Bryan Wheelock and Matthew Hintz who provided the citations to the items on the USPTO web site.

Yet another nice person (Scott Barrett) points out that apparently this closure was announced by the White House on December 5, 2014.

Ghost art unit apparently disbanded

On November 19 I blogged about the “Ghost Art Unit” at the USPTO.  This was art unit 2910, headed by SPEs Cathron Brooks and Joel Sincavage.  This was a curious art unit with no Examiners.  Our firm had some fifteen design patent applications stalled in this art unit.  The cases had no First Office Action Prediction, which was no surprise given that the art unit had no Examiners.  A comment by a USPTO person gave me the impression that a couple of thousand design patent applications, all GUI (graphical user interface) applications, were assigned to this art unit. Continue reading “Ghost art unit apparently disbanded”

Getting out of the ghost art unit at the USPTO

Well, one of our oldest design patent applications, one that had been parked in the “ghost art unit” for some seven months, is now out of the ghost art unit.  Just today it got transferred to art unit 2911, and after some seven months without a First Office Action Prediction (“FOAP”), it again has an FOAP.

The FOAP is six months, that is, USPTO now estimates that it will examine this case in about June of 2015.

USPTO’s First Office Action Estimator says that for a newly filed application in art unit 2911, the estimated time for a newly filed design patent application to get a first office action is 13 months from now.

What’s weird about this is that our application was filed September 23, 2013.  With a backlog of 13 months, this would suggest our application should have been examined in about October of 2013.  Over a month ago.  Our seven months in the ghost art unit seem to have pushed this application back in the queue so that it will get examined much later than it should have.

Well you take what you can get.  At least this application is now back in the normal Examining Corps and after some seven months of being unable to do so, we can once again track its progress through the system.

We have over a dozen other design patent applications that were filed more recently than this one, that are still parked in the ghost art unit.  We will continue to keep an eye on them and hopefully they too will eventually be transferred to a real art unit.

USPTO credit card limit to be cut back still further

We get a lot of frequent flyer miles every year paying fees to the USPTO and WIPO by credit card.  The miles that we get are chicken feed compared with the frequent flyer miles that the really big filers — the Oblons and Sughrues of the world — may receive in this way.

Paying a fee by credit card offers the further benefit that we can “float” the cost for a month, and hopefully the client’s payment of its bill will happen promptly enough that we can pay the credit card bill in full using the money that just came in from the client.

Having said this, we note that the USPTO keeps tinkering with its credit-card payment system in ways that make it harder and harder to pay by credit card.  Just today USPTO announced another change.

Continue reading “USPTO credit card limit to be cut back still further”

The ghost art unit at the USPTO

There’s a ghost art unit at the USPTO.  It has patent applications assigned to it, but it has no Examiners.  If you have the bad luck to have one of your patent applications assigned to this ghost art unit, the application will never get examined.  At least, it will never get examined for so long as it sits in this art unit.

At our firm we try to track the FOAPs — first office action predictions — for our pending patent applications.  We try to keep track of which art units are bogged down and which ones take up new applications sooner.  We stumbled upon the existence of this ghost art unit when we kept noticing that some of our pending applications had no FOAP at all.

Continue reading “The ghost art unit at the USPTO”

New USPTO “series code” for Hague Agreement cases

Those whose practice includes “inbound” Madrid Protocol trademark applications are accustomed to the series code “79”.  When you see a USPTO application number that starts with “79” you know that it is a trademark application number and that it came to the USPTO from the International Bureau of WIPO.  Someone who filed a Madrid Protocol trademark application (in a place other than the USPTO) must have designated the US.

Now the USPTO has picked the series code that it will use for Hague Agreement applications.

Continue reading “New USPTO “series code” for Hague Agreement cases”

US progress toward the Hague Agreement

(See update posting here.)

The Hague system, as most readers know, is the one-stop shopping system for filing applications to protect industrial designs around the world.  It is somewhat of a counterpart in the industrial design world to the PCT (for utility patents) and Madrid Protocol (for trademarks).  What is the progress of the US toward the Hague system?  When will people in the US actually be able to file Hague applications?  When will people around the world be able to designate the US when they file Hague applications? Continue reading “US progress toward the Hague Agreement”

Canada takes a step toward Hague and PLT

The Canadian parliament has taken up a bill which, if enacted, would permit Canada to join the Hague Agreement (one-stop filing of applications for protection of industrial designs) and the Patent Law Treaty.

There has also been some progress in Canada toward eventually joining the Madrid Protocol (one-stop filing of applications for protection of trademarks).