Good news – a design Examiner understands Score

Clipboard01It’s always nice when an Examiner understands SCORE.

By way of background, the USPTO system that loads content into IFW (Image File Wrapper) often degrades and sometimes ruins drawings.  The PDF drawing file uploaded by the filer is not, itself, visible in IFW.  Instead what USPTO stores in IFW are degraded drawings in which “half-toning” has been used as a very crude way to convert gray scale (color depth of 256 or higher) into a color depth of 2.  You can see an example of this degradation here.

From the point of view of the filer of a design patent application, the IFW degradation can be a really big problem.  Fortunately a few years ago USPTO made a change to EFS-Web so that in all e-filed design applications, the actual uploaded PDF file is preserved in a way that is visible to the filer and to the Examiner.  It is preserved in a USPTO database called Supplemental Complex Repository for Examiners or SCORE.  The SCORE database is visible to the filer under the “Supplemental Content” tab of PAIR.   The practical effect is that no matter how badly the USPTO degrades the drawings when loaded into IFW, all parties involved can see exactly what was originally filed if they go to the trouble to look in SCORE.

What happens all too often in a design case is that the Examiner will look only at the IFW drawings, and will mail a rejection or objection which would have been unneeded if only the Examiner had looked at the SCORE drawings.  When this happens the practitioner must sometimes argue with the Examiner until the rejection or objection is somehow overcome, typically by drawing the Examiner’s attention to the undegraded drawings that may be seen in SCORE.  (When I run into this, I have never been able to figure out whether the problem is due to ignorance on the part of the Examiner about SCORE, or whether the problem is due to mere laziness regarding the extra mouse clicks required for for the Examiner to view the SCORE files.)

So it is always refreshing when I see an Examiner who understands SCORE.  The image above is taken from a Notice of Allowability (Form PTOL-37D) that we received today from a nice Examiner in art unit 2912.  (It is an allowance on the first Office Action.)  Another Examiner might have played dumb and mailed an Office Action complaining about the IFW drawings (which were degraded).  This Examiner, however, did the extra mouse clicks to view the SCORE drawings, saw that they were acceptable, and included the wording that you see above, instructing the Office of Patent Publication to “Please print images from Score.”  The Examiner is a Primary Examiner and so draws upon some years of experience being an Examiner, and this may help to explain the happy result reported here.

2 Replies to “Good news – a design Examiner understands Score”

  1. We ran into this issue on D685537, a visually complex dog toy puppet, where color was so important to understanding the design that we had to rely on the color photos we submitted as an appendix with the initial filing (which were stored in SCORE). The Examiner didn’t really understand how to retrieve those and rejected the application multiple times before we finally figured out how to properly word petitions and such. It’s an interesting case to review on PAIR if you’re dealing with a design that is confusing when rendered in black and white and where color photos aid in the understanding of the design.

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