What I faxed to Director Lee about the PPH petition backlog

Here is what I faxed today to USPTO Director Michelle Lee about the ever-increasing backlog of PPH petitions.

Dear Director Lee:

I am writing to ask that the USPTO take steps so that PPH petitions can be considered promptly after filing. Here are some examples of PPH petitions which the USPTO has not considered promptly:

PPH petition filed

Application number

File number

November 5, 2014



November 28, 2014



December 31, 2014



January 15, 2015



January 17, 2015



As you can see these petitions were filed anywhere from three to five months ago. Not one of them has been considered at all by the USPTO.

The policy goal of the PPH program is to permit patent applications to be examined promptly when the applicant satisfies certain conditions. Delay on the part of the USPTO in the consideration of PPH petitions is inconsistent with this policy goal.

In the past the USPTO did consider PPH petitions promptly. In 2010 for example the USPTO considered PPH petitions an average of 43 days after filing. In the first few months of 2014, the USPTO considered PPH petitions an average of 51 days after filing. In contrast, one of the PPH petitions cited above has been outstanding for 169 days. Another has been outstanding for 147 days.

Changes within the past year have made USPTO’s work to consider a PPH petition easier than it was previously, because these days more of the factual requirements for a petition are self-certified by the petitioner rather than being checked in detail by USPTO personnel. So if anything this delay period ought to have shrunk instead of getting bigger.

Please make such changes as are needed to get PPH petitions considered promptly.

8 Replies to “What I faxed to Director Lee about the PPH petition backlog”

  1. Why did you not address the failure of examiners to give full faith and credit to the search performed by the ISA? You seem to confirm that PPH is nothing more than another form of a Petition to Make Special, which is how they have been treated in the past.

    1. Thank you for your posting. I have addressed that failure many times. As you may know I am vice-chair of the PCT Issues Committee of AIPLA. As vice-chair I worked with AIPLA to get a letter sent to Director Lee about this failure. I blogged about this as you may see at https://blog.oppedahl.com/?p=481 . At that blog article you can see the letter which AIPLA sent to Director Lee.

      So there is no question, I have addressed that failure.

  2. Examiners should not have to give “full faith and credit” to the ISA search because the ISA searches are rarely very thorough or of high quality (at least in TC 1600). If you want a low-quality patent, then yes, by all means

    1. It depends which ISA you are talking about.

      EPO does in fact give full faith and credit to the work done by ISA/EP, as well they should. Same for the work done by IPEA/EP.

      There is no excuse, right now in April 2015, for USPTO to do anything other than give full faith and credit to the work done by IPEA/US. That work is done by an Examiner in USPTO’s Examining Corps and that Examiner should be doing (and, I hope and trust, is doing) the same quality of work when wearing an IPEA/US hat as the work that he or she would do on a domestic patent application.

      Turning to ISA/US. The right thing would be for USPTO to do what is needed so that USPTO could give full faith and credit to the work done by ISA/US. Probably this would require bringing the ISA/US work back into the Examining Corps.

  3. PPH works nicely in the rest of the world (well, in those countries which are party to the various PPH agreements, of course). “Reaction time” varies from 1 day (!) to 3 months to a first Office Action on the merits (which were mostly some formal objections due to local requirements, easily dealt with; the next action was often an allowance) – and the USPTO takes five months to even acknowledge/accept the PPH Request per se … It’s a shame the USA is so far behind on this.

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