Earlier today the USPTO released its new Assignment Center, after having shut down the familiar and reliable EPAS and ETAS systems. It is full of bugs and defects. Here are some of the bugs and defects.
It turns out that it is impossible to e-file an Assignment for recordation against a PCT patent application that was filed in a Receiving Office other than the RO/US. The screen shot above shows the failed results. In this way, the developers at the USPTO who got this wrong in their Assignment Center system violated 35 US.C § 363 which says:
An international application designating the United States shall have the effect, from its international filing date under article 11 of the treaty, of a national application for patent regularly filed in the Patent and Trademark Office.
In EPAS, the user was permitted to enter a PCT application number in free text and this number would get used in the e-filing process. In Assignment Center, the user is forced to go through a “properties search”. I entered my PCT application number (with the last couple of digits blurred in the screen shot). The Assignment Center says “No Properties available” and “No results found”.
- It is impossible to save a partially finished submission package.
- It is impossible for one person to start the submission and then to forward it to a second person for review or completion.
- It is impossible to change the name of the person signing (for example if a non-lawyer starts the submission and if the lawyer wishes to sign).
- It is impossible to add one’s file number (docket number) to the payment page.
- There is a place where it says “can not” which should be “cannot”.
- It is impossible to enter a trademark application number.
- A user reports being unable to select any state from a drop-down menu of possible states.
- It is impossible to create “stored contact information”.
- There is a place where it says “eight or less” which should be “eight or fewer”.
- It is impossible to import a saved XML template from EPAS.
- It is impossible to import a saved XML template from ETAS.
- Caller to the help telephone number was told there are seventy (70) calls ahead of the caller.
- The system ought to accept a patent application number in any format that the USPTO users to present that application number. Instead, the system forces the user to edit the patent application number (presented by the USPTO with a virgule and a comma) to remove the USPTO-presented virgule and comma.
It is woefully clear that the USPTO software developers did no beta testing at all. If they had done even the most rudimentary beta testing, this defect in the system would instantly have been identified.
What was the supposed problem for which this Assignment Center is supposedly the solution? Nobody knows. I am not aware of any users having asked the USPTO to create this new Assignment Center. The USPTO never asked any users what, if any, problem they thought needed to be fixed by shutting down EPAS and ETAS in favor of this new Assignment Center.
Here is what the USPTO says in its FAQ.
What new features does Assignment Center give the user, that EPAS/ETAS did not?
You now have the ability to track the progress of your assignment cover sheet(s) and know the status of your submission.
This new system will walk you through the process of creating a cover sheet with an improved, user-friendly interface.
It is certainly false to say that the new “interface” is “improved” or “user-friendly”.