Update: Sign the letter to director Iancu here
I think it is safe to say that this sums up the feelings of anyone who who ever has to deal with PAIR/EFS:
Well, after a decade plus of suffering “high system volume” and just plain old outages, many of us are finally taking action to do something about it. If you want to be involved (the effort can be as little as signing onto the Letter of Impact that we are preparing), please get in touch (email, LinkedIn, smoke signal, whatever).
On Monday, about 20 of us from some of the largest patent filers, patent firms, and data and technology providers met with Midwest Director Damian Porcari and USPTO Chief Data Strategist Tom Beach. In the meeting, we discuss the pain of PAIR/EFS and formulated a plan of action to achieve two things: make public PAIR file wrappers available in bulk; and get PEDs completed.
Making public file wrappers available in bulk
This is a short-term solution that will:
1. Take some of the burden off of PAIR to hopefully allow it to function at a level that is something above the current state of laughable.
2. Allow many companies to get to work on next-generation analytics, search, and automation algorithms/tools that will boost patent quality, and also make the patent process more efficient and affordable.
(Oh, and BTW, the PTO already gives this information directly to the IP5 governments, which includes China, while the rest of us fight over the PAIR crumbs)
Fund the completion of PEDS as a modern, cloud-based PAIR alternative
For those that are not aware of peds ( https://ped.uspto.gov/peds/ ), it is a great initiative the PTO started to basically move public PAIR to the cloud and provide an API for automated access*. Unfortunately it seems to have continually gotten the short end of the funding/prioritization stick. The result is of the lack of funding/prioritization are two massive weaknesses that make it mostly unusable for anything but aggregated analytics:
- It has sync issues such that it does not sync in real-time (or, in fact, in anything close to real time — many applications are weeks behind) with PAIR
- It does not include the actual image file wrappers.
*A Note on “Bots”
The recent change to separate private PAIR from public PAIR was justified on this ground of preventing “bots” (see https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/securing-uspto-online-access)
What does this mean? As one example, it means your docketing department can no longer automate the routine task of accessing related file histories that are under a different customer number (e.g., because they are handled by a different firm, are under the customer’s own number for maintenance fee handling, etc.) Not only can it now not be automated, but guess what? The human you now have to pay to manually do it, has to continually jump between private PAIR and public PAIR (with lots of logging in and out, passing “recaptha” tests, etc.).
So instead of moving forward in terms of automation we have literally just moved backward about 5 years. “Bots” are not bad per se. Most of them are the automation scripts that are allowing the prosecution system to keep functioning despite prices stagnating for a decade.
Decrease the ability to automate routine docketing and prosecution tasks and you either get higher prices or poorer quality. It’s that simple.
So, again, if you want to be part of the solution instead of just taking your PAIR frustration out on a helpless piece of computer equipment, please get in touch. There are people inside the PTO that want to help. We just need to help them help us!