Tech support failure at the Assignment Branch

(Update:  the USPTO did fix the defect, but it took three months, and the USPTO did not do me the courtesy of letting me know, see blog article.)

This past Monday, February 5, 2024, was the big day that the USPTO launched its Assignment Center.

The USPTO failed to do any customer-side alpha or beta testing prior to launch day, despite having been invited to do so on November 12, 2023 (blog article).

When the USPTO belatedly revealed some of its training materials on January 29, 2024 (blog article), I predicted (see it here) that it would turn out that USPTO’s software developers had failed to handle correctly any PCT application that had been filed in a Receiving Office other than RO/US.

Sure enough, when the USPTO launched its Assignment Center on February 5, my prediction was fulfilled.  It was impossible to record an assignment against any PCT application that had been filed in a Receiving Office other than RO/US.

The Assignment Branch lists two ways to get tech support for bugs in Ass. Center.  A first way to get tech support is to send an email to .  I did that on Monday, February 5.  Four days have passed and nobody at the USPTO has answered that email.  Nor, during those four days, did anybody at the USPTO fix the bug reported in that email.

A second way to get tech support is to place a telephone call to the Assignment Branch at +1-571-272-3350.  I did that bright and early on Tuesday, February 6 (blog article).  I waited on hold for some twenty minutes, eventually reaching a human being who claimed to be wholly unable to provide tech support, but who offered to “open a ticket”.  So I received ticket number 1-849780117.  Three days have passed and nobody at the USPTO has gotten back to me on that ticket.  Nor, during those three days, did anybody at the USPTO fix the bug reported in that ticket.

Bright and early on Tuesday, February 6, I left a voice mail message for the manager of the Assignment Branch, a Joyce R. Johnson.  I left a detailed voicemail message.  Three days have passed and she has not returned my call.  Nor, during those three days, did anybody at the USPTO fix the bug reported in that voicemail message to the manager.


10 Replies to “Tech support failure at the Assignment Branch”

  1. I wonder why the PTO has chosen to be so adversarial against us. I see it so clearly especially when I communicate with ePCT and receive immediate responses (at least overnight, given the time difference). Is it the Commissioner who is pushing this?

  2. I recorded an assignment the same day IPAS became available and I should have waited because it became obvious that they had some kinks to straighten out. So far they’ve added the missing docket number field for patent assignments, but they’re still working on fixing the “stored contact information” (for correspondence and conveying/receiving parties) field which remains grayed out. I suppose the incompetent software developers are trying hard to figure out how to store information for later retrieval.

    Another discrepancy I noted that needs fixing is the entity type for conveying party. That option is not available for patent assignments and I had to check their instructions to see whether it was mentioned at all, and it is. In other words, their instructions do not match what you get online. I do not know whether that option is necessary (for patent assignments) and they forgot to add it, or they simply copied the trademark assignment instructions to create the patent assignment instructions and forgot to delete it. I brought it to their attention, so we’ll see whether they’ll fix it or remove it.

  3. I have not tried recording an assignment against a PCT application. However, for a few weeks (both with EPAS and Assignment Center), the USPTO cannot recognize the application numbers for national stage applications until several hours have passed after filing. I filed four national stage applications yesterday, and 12 hours later, the Assignment Center still can’t find the numbers, so I can’t record the assignments.

  4. Anyone experiencing delays in receiving Notices of Recordation for assignments submitted last week using the new system? They used to turn around Notices of Recordation fairly quickly 1-2 days for a straightforward submission.

  5. I have also noticed that the Assignment Center is unable to find recently-filed applications, but this is no surprise, since even Patent Center itself can’t find them until the next day. (I like to file powers of attorney for assignees after I have the serial number, which I enter into the assignments themselves.)
    There’s evidently some pre-processing that takes place before the application information actually makes its way into Patent Center. A mild inconvenience most of the time, but another trap for midnight filers who forget to include something vital. (Don’t throw away that fax machine!)

  6. 35 U.S.C. 122 (a) states that until published, “applications for patents shall be kept in confidence by the Patent and Trademark Office and no information concerning the same given without authority of the applicant or owner . . . ”

    Does that extend to the titles of the applications?

    If I enter a serial number that isn’t mine into Patent Center, I’ll receive a warning, “Sorry, the entered Application Number ‘18582810’ is not available. The number may have been incorrectly typed, or assigned to an application that is not yet available for public inspection.”

    However, if I enter the same serial number into Assignment Center, the program will show me the title of the application, “HYDRAULIC CONTROL SYSTEM IN WORKING MACHINES”.

  7. I have been waiting 3 days for a response to my email question. I tried to call but end up being put on hold until the end of the day.

    It’s been over a month since the new system went live and still there seems to be no way for support staff to fill in the information, save it, and then have their attorney review and sign. The only chance to save is right after entering conveying party information. You get assigned an assignment ID number, but then the practitioner can’t see it on his/her end. It seems that with Patent Center and now Assignment Center the support staff functionality is always lacking or missing.

    Also, another concern is that when you sign the Assignment coversheet, the signature is not between slashes. I believe this conflicts with 37 CFR 1.4. It also does not require the practitioners number, another violation. There is no way to edit or alter the signature to correct it.

    Do we really have to file it by paper now to have it be compliant? What a massive step backwards.

  8. If your assignment submission status does not change to “Processing” after you have submitted your docs for recording, you will need to call the Assignment Branch. They had a computer glitch and some assignments have been “stuck” in the “Submitted” status and requires a call for their technical team to find your documents and get it unstuck and potential reupload your documents. Had to take a snapshot of the dashboard, provide the cover sheet, and assignment. We got the Assignment Center email confirmation, but the Assignment Branch was unable to find the assignments that had been submitted a week and a half ago. Apparently has been happening to others – stuck in submitted and lost.

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