Still no geographically diverse USPTO backup server for e-filing!

Well today every USPTO e-commerce system has crashed.  Users are unable to reach EFS-Web (patent filing) or PAIR or patent assignments on the web.  EPAS is broken.  The system for paying maintenance fees is broken.

Oh and EFS-Web Contingency, the “backup” patent e-filing system that is “guaranteed” to be working even if the main EFS-Web system is broken, is broken.

On the trademark side, TEAS and TESS are both broken.  TSDR is down.  TTABVue is down.

Oddly the main USPTO web site is not broken.  But then the main USPTO web site does not actually do anything for USPTO customers.  To actually get anything done one must migrate away from the main USPTO web site to one of the other e-commerce sites.

It is clear that even now there is some Single Point of Failure that is able to knock out both the main EFS-Web server and the backup EFS-Web server.  An alert twelve-year old, hearing about such a problem, would have no trouble figuring out that the correct protective step would be to move one of the two servers to some geographically diverse location.  No single errant backhoe would rip up both fiber optical cable feeds at the two locations.  No power line downed because of ice would shut down both locations.

Which brings me to the Big Problem.  The Big Problem, as I have blogged about again and again, is that USPTO continues to fail to place its backup patent e-filing system in a geographically diverse location such as one of the other Patent Offices.

Oh and of course USPTO’s answer would be “you can always use 37 CFR 1.10” meaning “you can go to the Post Office”.  Except then you would get a slap in the face, as our firm did, with a notice of having to pay a $400 penalty for failing to e-file.

16 Replies to “Still no geographically diverse USPTO backup server for e-filing!”

  1. Our VPN from the examiner/Office side is also down. This makes for the third time in the last month…I believe the person to call and complain to is Andrew Faile

    1. Recall USPTO’s massive system crash on May 14, 2014. EFS-Web was broken for some eighteen hours. We had to run one of our associates over to the post office to get a same-day filing date by Express Mail. We had an application that had to be filed that day.

      Later we got a Notice of Missing something from the USPTO. They demanded we pay $400 as the penalty for paper filing rather than e-filing.

    2. Per USPTO Systems Status and Availability page:

      “Please note that filing of a new application under 37 USC 111(a), except reissue, design or plant applications, via Priority Mail Express® requires payment of the non-electronic filing fee (37 CFR 1.16(t)) in addition to the other required fees. The non-electronic filing fee is $400 ($200 for small and micro entities).”

  2. as of 6:17am EST we rec’d this msg:
    The USPTO has experienced a power outage affecting all USPTO Systems and most are not available presently. However, ERA VPN, email and BlackBerry Services are available.
    OCIO is working to fix the problem and will notify users when the issue has been resolved.


  3. From Mr. Fail:

    Patents Employees,
    At approximately 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, December 22, 2015, the USPTO experienced a major power failure at the Alexandria campus that impacted all USPTO computer systems at all campuses. All examining systems are currently offline and inaccessible. OCIO teams are working to restore these systems but this will likely take several days. At this point, at least EAST, OACS, DAV (eDAN), PALM, MADRAS and WebTA are down. Currently, email, phone service and the Service desk are operational.
    Production line employees in Patents will not be able to perform any work using the impacted systems listed above today, tomorrow or Friday. Non-production line employees also may not be able to work if their work relies on impacted systems. Since WebTA is also offline, we will be performing any necessary corrections when the system becomes available.
    I will send more information on compensation for the outage as soon as it becomes available. On Friday, I will provide further instructions for the upcoming weekend. Please check email or our website for more information before reporting to work tomorrow. For those at work today, I will provide further instructions as soon as they are available.
    Thank you for your patience as we work to restore full service as soon as possible.

  4. I was hoping beyond hope that at least the fax server was up, but no dice.

    Gotta find where we put those return-receipt postcards . . . .

      1. update: fax line is still continuously busy. Those who actually get a fax through must be very lucky. For those who still have amendments to file today, I suggest forgetting about trying to fax it and allot yourself enough time to make it to the mailbox before midnight (I just got back).For those who still have applications to file, God help you! I wonder if there will be any malpractice cases related to the outage?

        1. I believe there are firms in Hawaii that can help get an application on file. If the Post Offices close there at 5 pm, as they do many places, time is about up, though.

  5. I guess what I don’t understand is this. You put the servers on UPS’s. The UPS’s tell the servers that they’re running on battery power. The servers therefore shut down gracefully. Then, when power comes back on, you turn the servers back on.

    This would have limited the outage to essentially the duration of the power outage.

    Why don’t they have UPS’s?!? Heck, they should do a — I’d be willing to chip in $20.

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