Two Patent Center service failures in the past 24 hours

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Patent Center has had two service failures in the past 24 hours. The USPTO had promised its users that this would not happen — there are supposedly two servers called “Blue” and “Green”, and if one of them crashes the other is supposed to come into service automatically. The user should not even notice the switchover from one server to the other, we were promised. Despite these promises, there was a first Patent Center service failure yesterday afternoon, and a second Patent Center service failure this morning. 

Yesterday’s Patent Center service failure began at about 5:00 PM Eastern Time. The user would log in to without incident. But when the user would click on “Patent Center”, the user would get a plain white window, as shown at above right. (Thanks to alert listserv member David Longo for the screen shot.)  The failure apparently cleared at about 5:30 PM Eastern Time.

Today’s Patent Center service failure began at about 9:15 AM Eastern Time. Users logged in at Patent Center would click on “application data”, and would then click on “Documents & Transactions”, and would then encounter “No data available”.

The “No data available” failure apparently cleared at around 10 AM Eastern Time.

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During today’s service failure, Patent Center users also frequently encountered the by-now-very-familiar red popups windows saying “Search limit reached – The maximum search limit has been reached. Please try again later.”  (This category of failure dates from at least as long ago as November 13, 2023 and has been reported to the USPTO as trouble ticket number CP178.)

EFS-Web had a contingency server.  The idea was that if the main EFS-Web system were to crash, users could switch over to the contingency EFS-Web server.   And the USPTO has promised, again and again, that every feature of EFS-Web and PAIR would be brought forward into Patent Center.  But on August 25, 2023, the USPTO posted this in its Ideascale system:

Patent Center will not have a contingency feature. It has been designed and built with modern architecture that results in a stabilized, high availability system.

At the time that I saw this USPTO posting, my reaction was that the first sentence was clear enough in its meaning, and that the second sentence was content-free.

During alpha test of Patent Center, and again during the later beta test of Patent Center, the USPTO was repeatedly warned by its users that Patent Center was apparently failing to scale well.  Its basic functions seemed to work during low-usage conditions, but often seemed to slow to a crawl or cease responding during normal-usage conditions.  The two Patent Center service failures in the past 24 hours are disappointing, and I think many USPTO customers are understandably apprehensive about the system.

9 Replies to “Two Patent Center service failures in the past 24 hours”

  1. “The two Patent Center service failures in the past 24 hours are disappointing…”

    Carl’s usual understatement.

    If in a corporate setting, this kind of failure happened after repeated warnings that it would happen, the IT manager would be out on his ear, and possibly one or more of his bosses.

    Must be fun to work someplace where your salary isn’t pegged to real-world performance criteria.

  2. One would have thought the USPTO would have learned something from the few days in December about 4-5 yrs ago when both the main server and the backup server for EFS, kept in the same room @ USPTO, went down for several days, and people actually had to file a paper application via Express Mail!!

  3. Dear Carl,
    Are you aware of the Patent Center failure on the afternoon of Dec. 27, 2023?
    I’m sorry I didn’t take a screenshot.
    But when I wanted to file an RCE, I logged into Patent Center and clicked on Existing Submissions, as usual.
    To my utter surprise, the link to Upload Documents/Pay Fees was missing! Also missing were Corrected ADS, Web-Based Issue Fee Transmittal and e-Terminal Disclaimer. All the most critical functions, from my perspective. I don’t know when the failure began, but I kept trying intermittently for about 2 hours until Upload Documents/Pay Fees reappeared. I successfully filed the RCE at 5:35:28 PM. When I reported the incident to the EBC, they said they had no knowledge of it. Did anyone else experience or report this incident?

    1. It looks like you have not yet joined the Patent Center listserv. Had you been a member back on December 27, you could have posted your question to the listserv.

      I went back and checked the postings for December 27. One listserv member reported problems with Patent Center starting at about 11AM Eastern. Other reports continued until around 11:45 AM.

          1. Deja Vu! It’s ba-a-a-ack. This time I took a Screenshot. But I don’t see a way to attach it here.

  4. The payment system was also on the fritz January 3-4, 2024. Three separate payments (2 yesterday and one today) were stuck on the “please wait” pop-up which failed to clear after more than 10 minutes each time. Each time I had to go into Patentcenter and find the payment receipt because I could not complete the payment process. Of course, as is almost always the case, there is no public notification of any issues with the payment system that I could find.

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