When you log in to USPTO’s Private PAIR and EFS-Web system, you have to go through a cumbersome process. You have to mouse around and find a “crypto certificate” on your hard drive that proves your identity. You have to wait for a very slow “Java applet” to run, taking some tens of seconds. And you have to type in a password that is required to contain at least one smiley face (just kidding). This would not be so bad except that this system logs you out at more or less random times, after anywhere from ten to sixty minutes of inactivity. A quick trip to the bathroom or coffee machine can lead to your having to log in all over again. In a normal work day a USPTO customer might be forced to log in again a dozen or more times.
A couple of years ago I surveyed users of PAIR and EFS-Web about this system of forced logouts. The vast majority of respondents said that for them, this system of forced logouts is a bug, not a feature. I passed the results of the survey along to USPTO people who are responsible for this system. Unfortunately in the two years that have passed since this survey, USPTO has not done anything to improve this situation.
More than 90% of respondents said that they find the “forced logout” feature neither important nor valuable. If USPTO were to change the system so that each user could choose for a particular login session to never get logged out automatically, 81% of the respondents would use that feature sometimes or for nearly all of their login sessions.
You can see the results of the survey here.
Many regular users of the EFS-Web and PAIR systems belong to listservs — the EFS-Web listserv for patent practitioners generally and the PAIR listserv for users of the PAIR system. (If you use these systems you should join these listservs — you can always unsubscribe later if you wish.) Many of those who responded to the survey came from one listserv or the other.
What about you? What would you like to tell the USPTO about your wishes for EFS-Web and Private PAIR? Post a comment below.