USPTO falling behind in deciding PPH petitions

(Followup postings here and here and here and here.)

USPTO’s internal standard for deciding PPH petitions is to try to attend to each petition with two months of when it was filed.  But the Office is falling behind.  What can you do?

The last time I asked USPTO about this kind of backlog, which was about two years ago, the Office cheerfully explained that if you want your PPH petition decided promptly, you can file a second petition.  This second petition is a petition under Rule 182, with a fee of $400 (smaller for small or micro entities), to ask that the PPH petition be decided promptly.

Anyway after we filed half a dozen of these $400 petitions, USPTO somehow allocated enough resources to the problem that PPH petitions were again being attended to promptly.  That was a couple of years ago.  But now USPTO has fallen behind again.

It sort of misses the point of PPH if USPTO fails to take up the PPH petitions promptly, seems to me.

At our firm we try to track the status of our PPH petitions.  Right now we have over twenty PPH petitions that are pending — that USPTO has not yet attended to.  The oldest of these was filed August 26, 2014.  Almost three months ago now.

A couple of weeks ago I got in touch with one of my contacts at the USPTO to see what’s going on.  He was going to try to nudge along the petitions that were more than two months old.  But even today the August 26, 2014 petition stands undecided.

The thing is that with Global PPH and IP5 PPH, the USPTO has streamlined the PPH petition granting process.  Compared with a year ago or two years ago, the petitions are simply easier to examine and easier to grant.  Of the various conditions that must be met for the PPH petition to be granted, more of the conditions nowadays are essentially “self-certified” by the filer, meaning that so long as the filer asserts that the condition is satisfied, the petition examiner pretty much takes the filer at their word and moves on to the next condition on the check list.

Given that the PPH petitions are these days easier to examine, one would expect the backlog of not-yet-decided PPH petitions to be shorter these days rather than longer.

Maybe we will have to resume the practice of filing these $400 petitions to ask that our PPH petitions be attended to promptly.

How about you?  How old is your oldest not-yet-decided PPH petition?

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