Every USPTO e-commerce system has been broken since about 5PM Eastern Time yesterday. Many hours passed during which USPTO was silent about the cause of the outage, and it was left to customers to compare notes and to try to guess what was going on through discussions on the Trademark Practitioner’s Listserv and the Patent Practitioner’s Listserv. (What? You have not joined those listservs? Click on the links to see how to join.)
About fifteen hours into the outage, USPTO finally revealed the cause of the outage — the electric power had gone out at the Madison Building in Alexandria. USPTO does not, apparently, have backup generators to keep things going during such a power outage. Nor does it have redundant electrical feeds from two different sources or feeds.
This power outage is like watching a bad movie again and again. We all watched this bad movie on May 14, 2014 when all of the patent e-filing systems were broken for some eighteen hours. The backup patent e-filing system was broken just like the main system. The only way to file a patent application was to go to the Post Office or hand-carry it to the Patent Office. Either of which would incur a $400 penalty for failing to e-file.
For some years now I have been urging USPTO (blog) to relocate its backup e-filing server to a geographically diverse location. This has fallen on deaf ears at the USPTO.