« Junket | Main | Summary Misjudgment »

August 7, 2008

Just the Fax

The USPTO "is proposing to revise the rules of practice to limit the types of correspondence that may be submitted to the Office by facsimile." The successful 1988 trial program is now deemed not so successful. The office recommends its web-based EFS (Electronic Filing System). [from the Federal Register]

Posted by Patent Hawk at August 7, 2008 9:06 AM | The Patent Office


Sometimes EFS filings are not possible because of temporary computer problems at either the Applicant's end or the PTO's end.

Posted by: patent prosecutor at August 7, 2008 2:50 PM

Thanks for the comment. Precisely.

EFS or snail mail becomes the choice.

Fax has technical limitations with regard to image quality, and the PTO now prefers archive quality electronic documents.

Maybe they'll figure out that email submission works. Require PDF/A documents and a format for easy sorting of incoming correspondence. Has potential to be more convenient and efficient than EFS.

But the PTO does not have much innovative capability. Certainly not an organization of "ordinary skill in the art" as defined by the Supreme Court in KSR. But then again, who is?

Posted by: Patent Hawk at August 7, 2008 3:41 PM

Mr. Hawk:

I disagree with your comment that "the PTO does not have much innovative capability."

Just take a look at their claim and continuation rules.

While they are counterproductive and exceed the PTO's authority, they certainly are "innovative."

Posted by: patent prosecutor at August 7, 2008 4:32 PM

To qualify as "innovative," a thing must actually CHANGE the way people conduct their lives. Unless the rules are in fact implemented, they cannot be deemed innovative. One might also ask whether something can be innovative if the change is for the worse, an issue which typically does not come up in the real world.

Posted by: Lawrence B. Ebert at August 8, 2008 4:02 AM

When I saw this notice about ending fax transmissions of documents, I wondered how much the USPTO has thought this through (that's how badly the credibility of the USPTO's hierarchy is with me). For example, what happens if the EFS system is down? Also, why is it so hard for the USPTO to have the issue of fax receipt dealt with by computer and software? For example, whenever papers are faxed directly to the Examiner, they usually go directly to their computer.

If you think I'm overreacting, I can recall when the USPTO first put in the fax machines for receipt of documents. All they had done was to install 5 fax machines without any consideration of the procedures needed for sorting the faxes that came in, making sure they got to the right person, etc. I remember some very kind and knowledgable person from the patent bar (yes, we're willing to help when we see something bad about to happen) taking the USPTO official aside (I believe it was Denny) who mentioned the installation of these faxes, and telling him what the USPTO needed to do to make sure this didn't become a fiasco.

As far as the font size, the reasoning proffered by the USPTO (OCR recognition) makes no sense if we're going to an "all electronic" system by ending fax submissions. (I suspect the real reason relates to page size issues.) Again, I'm jaded by the current USPTO hierarchy's inability to deal "fair and square" with us.

Posted by: EG at August 8, 2008 4:38 AM

If EFS goes down, it seems likely that RightFax would go down too. Perhaps the USPTO is looking at some new costs for the fax system (e.g., replacing old equipment) and wants to avoid them. Fax always seemed like a bandaid until they got EFS right. EFS is so good that it has relegated fax to nothing more than a weak back-up system. As a back-up system, snail-mail is probably more efficient.

Posted by: Steve Sereboff at August 8, 2008 6:50 AM

What about the pro se filer who doesn't want to go through all the hassle of setting up EFS? Even some small prosecutor operations don't want to bite that bullet.

Also, working from outside the US, some of us don't have access to priority mail filed-when-mailed rules as a back-up for when the PTO computers crash. After 9/11 and the anthrax mess, most stay away from the mail anyway. I'm not aware of the PTO FAX system ever crashing. Did it go down a few weeks ago with the telephone fiasco?

Seems to me, Dudas needs to keep the FAX machines warmed up until any bloke w/ Email can file an application as a .pdf and send the fee by mail or Paypal within 30 or 60 days with no penalty, like most other countries.

PTO is clueless.

Posted by: Babel Boy at August 8, 2008 2:58 PM