The USPTO Needs Standards

Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at September 6, 2006 05:16 PM

From a reader:

The PTO really needs to figure out how to do one thing one way, instead of having multiple unrelated systems doing parts of the same thing in different ways. Like, how many leading zeros do you need? PATFT, PAIR, EPAS all work differently. Are slashes OK, or not? Can you put commas in, or not? They're even inconsistent within a single system - the ADS form for EFS-web has two different places for entering a customer number - one has a leading zero, the other rejects it. Go figure.

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Keith Nagel Says:

September 6, 2006 10:42 PM

Hi Nip,

I feel Readers pain. But s/he should understand that the current collection of web based systems evolved from the workings of a number of different contractors, over the period of a decade at least. Until quite recently, databases like AppFT and PatFT weren't even under the direct control of the USPTO. Hence their quirky functioning ( Reader should look into the search fields themselves on those databases for a wild ride through inconsistancy and format changes due to subcontractor foolishness, and also sad to say a lack of enforcement of standards from the USPTO. A good example of the latter is foreign refs). I am told by "those who know better" that now that they have these systems under their physical control, there will be changes made. Time will tell....

Mike Brown Says:

September 7, 2006 03:59 PM

> and also sad to say a lack of enforcement of standards from the USPTO. A good example of the latter is foreign refs

Ugh. That's been a pain for years, and it isn't necessarily a database problem - in a significant number of cases the number printed on the patent (or entered by the Examiner on the list of references supplied with an office action) bears little or no resemblence to an actual patent number.

I've seen more than one case where the foreign "reference number" was really the international class, or the filing date.

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