What we are all accustomed to is that when we are picking a Receiving Office for the filing of a new PCT application, a substantial drawback of RO/IB is that we have to worry about the time zone. For the US-based filer who is selecting between RO/US and RO/IB, the typical difference is six hours. A filer in the Mountain Time Zone, for example, who is rushing to get a same-day filing date would need to e-file by 10PM if e-filing in RO/US but would typically need to e-file by 4PM if e-filing in RO/IB.
What I did not realize, until quite recently, is that things are quite different when one is e-filing a Hague application (in other words, an international design application rather than an international patent application).
The Administrative Instructions for the Application of the Hague Agreement, Section 204(c) (link to source document), say:
Where a communication is transmitted to the International Bureau by electronic means and, because of the time difference between the place from where the communication is sent and Geneva, the date on which the sending started is different from the date of receipt by the International Bureau of the complete communication, the earlier of the two dates shall be considered as the date of receipt by the International Bureau.
In plain language this means that for a US e-filer of a Hague Agreement application, the filer gets the benefit of local time. Indeed the US e-filer gets the benefit of a better time than the time at the USPTO! A filer who is located, for example, in the Mountain Time Zone could file at 11PM Mountain Time and get a same-day filing date if e-filing at the IB, while the result if e-filing at the USPTO would be a next-day filing date.
I certainly hope that PCT filers will join me in encouraging the RO/IB to adopt an approach like that of the Hague Agreement e-filing approach. Please feel free to post a comment below.