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? 

I will start by recounting the history of the Patent Docket system and will then describe how it seems to work at the present time.

November 10, 2017.  USPTO announced:

In this release, you can now see which items have changed status over the past 14 days in your Patent Docket. In addition, we implemented a notification feature that allows you to receive an email when a status changes on items within a collection.  (original)

August 26, 2017.  USPTO announced:

The customize columns feature allows you to choose what data fields are displayed on the full screen view of your Patent docket. Find it in the Full screen view of your docket.

December 15, 2017.  USPTO announced:

In this release, we removed the 20 item limit for collections for the Patent docket widget.  You can create as many collections as you need and add up to 1000 items per collection. Try it and let us know what you think.  (original)

At some time in 2018, USPTO very quietly turned off the email notification feature, or perhaps more accurately acknowledged that it didn’t work.  This change is not mentioned anywhere in USPTO’s MyUSPTO status page.

May 25, 2018.  USPTO announced:

We added a share feature in the Patent Docket that allows you to grant other users access to a read-only view of your collections.  (original)

November 30, 2018.  USPTO announced:

For patent docket, you can now delete multiple items in a collection quickly at one time.

March 1, 2019.  USPTO announced:

We … re-introduced the email notification feature for your Patent Docket collections, so you can receive emails when any status changes occur on any item.  (original)

After this March 1, 2019 announcement, I checked the box in my Patent Docket widget to turn the email notification feature, which had been “off”, to once again be “on”.  I did this about two weeks ago.  At the same time, I added several dozen very active US patent applications to my Patent Docket collection so that I could be very sure of receiving some email notifications very soon.

During these two weeks, at least eight status changes have occurred that should have resulted in the mailing of an email notification.  The status changes included:

  • Patented Case (patent number and issue date assigned)
  • Response to Non-Final Office Action Entered and Forwarded to Examiner
  • Publications — Issue Fee Payment Verified

But during these two weeks, not a single email notification has arrived. 

There is a banner in Patent Docket which on first glance might indicate that USPTO is aware of a problem that might explain the missing email notifications:

We are resolving a lag in data between the status displayed in your Public PAIR and the Patent Docket. This may also affect your email notifications. Public PAIR is the system of record.

The lag that is described in the banner would not, however, explain the failure of Patent Docket to send the emails that I described.  I say this because as for the missing emails that I described, Patent Docket has no lag.  For those applications, Patent Docket does display the exact same status (for example, that the issue fee payment is verified) as is shown in PAIR.  Patent Docket knows perfectly well that the status changes happened, and nonetheless has failed to send out the notification emails.

I contacted USPTO’s Electronic Business Center for help with the Patent Docket widget.  What I learned (per agent 43) is that the EBC does not support the Patent Docket widget.  There is apparently no support path for the Patent Docket widget.

Maybe some day USPTO will actually get the Patent Docket widget working as advertised.  Until then, it seems that one cannot rely upon it.

2 Replies to “Monitoring status of US patent applications”

  1. This violates several provisions of law — the Information Quality Act (and the PTO’s guidelines implementing the IQA) and the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Agencies are not permitted to disseminate bogus information (like the promise to send updates) or to request information they won’t use (the sign up information).

    Private sector parties can do this kind of stuff with nothing more than irritated customers. When federal agencies do it, they’re breaking the law. When an agency disseminates this kind of information, they’re inviting the public to rely on it. The disclaimer Carl notes is more than disingenuous.

    We’ll see how much the PTO cares.

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