Things that got fax-filed during the massive USPTO outage

As I mentioned here, one of the open questions was how long it would take the USPTO to get around to processing the large number of fax and paper filings that filers filed in desperation during the outage of all USPTO systems from December 22 to December 27.

There is a document that we fax-filed on December 26.  And since December 26 we kept checking PAIR every day to see when USPTO people would get around to posting the document to IFW.

The document finally turned up in IFW on January 6.  In other words, it took eleven days for the USPTO to take this fax and put it into IFW.

We’re still not out of the woods on this, because of course the mere presence of a document in IFW does not permit the Examiner to actually do anything with the document.  Once the document gets into IFW, it has to pass through various reviews by paralegals and Legal Instruments Examiners.  Only after they have all blessed the document will it get forwarded to the Examiner.  Today is January 8 and the paralegals and LIEs have not yet processed this document.

Maybe the biggest loser in this débacle was the hapless Examiner.  Recall that this was a finally rejected case in which the Examiner had said if we were to do X, she could allow the case.   And the document, which we had been trying to e-file since December 22, did X.  If things had proceeded normally, the Examiner could have disposed of the case (through allowance) within the calendar quarter ending December 31.  Instead this case is still dragging on in January, and even now the Examiner is not able to dispose of the case.  The Examiner will not even be able to dispose of the case within the present biweek.

The client also loses out.  This case will eventually get issued, but the issue date will be at least two weeks later than it should have been.  The client will lose two weeks of patent term with this débacle.  (The Patent Term Adjustment process will probably not help in this particular case.)

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