USPTO should not require “credit card type”

Every one of USPTO’s e-commerce systems — EFS-Web, TEAS, RAM, ETAS, and others — has a placcard-typee where the system forces the user to answer this question.

This is, of course, wholly unnecessary.  When you stick a credit card into a gas pump at the gas station, it does not make you say what kind of card it is.  Amazon does not make you say what kind of card it is.  Our firm’s shopping cart does not make you say what kind of card it is.  In fact there are well established standards that permit any properly programmed system to figure out for itself what kind of card it is.  Visa cards start with 4, American Express cards start with 34 or 37, Mastercards start with 51 through 55, and so on.

What’s more, in most of the USPTO systems, if you happen to overlook this question and fill in all of the other blanks and click “submit”, not only will the USPTO system display a (completely unnecessary) error message but the USPTO system will also purge its memory of any of the other information that you laboriously hand-keyed into the screens, such as the card number, CCV code, expiration date, and so on.  This forces you to laboriously hand-key those things all over again, all quite unnecessarily.

USPTO should eliminate this “card type” question from all of its payment screens.

While we are on the subject, I will mention that you can skip nearly all of the other fields when paying money to USPTO.

Mastercard and Visa.  If you are paying by Mastercard or Visa, you can type any old random information in (such as a single letter on the keyboard) for the cardholder name, the address, and the city.  It’s just that these fields cannot be left empty.  You have to pick a state but it does not matter which one you pick.

The only things that actually need to be correct are the card number itself, the expiration date, the four-digit CCV number, and the five-digit billing Zip code.

American Express.  If you are paying by American Express, it’s even easier.  It’s like Mastercard or Visa except that you don’t even need to enter the correct billing Zip code.  You can enter any random five-digit number in the Zip code field.  It’s just that you can’t leave that field blank.

This saves me probably sixty seconds of fussing around and hand-keying stuff every time I pay a fee to the USPTO (which is several times per day).

2 Replies to “USPTO should not require “credit card type””

  1. Carl, you truly are the patent curmudgeon of the patent world. And I say that as a compliment. Of the various issues I have with the USPTO’s web site, this is decidedly very low on the totem pole. As just one example — and I believe you’ve blogged about this in the past — being able to provide a link to a given patent application on public PAIR is much more important to me. Having to select credit card type . . . . well, I have to do that with many e-commerce web sites already. Not a biggee.

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