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Patently Uncool: USPTO Breaks URLs

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is getting static from patent lawyers over its discontinuance of static URLs in its public Patent Application Information Retrieval system, known as PAIR. As Massachusetts IP lawyer Erik J. Heels explains on his blog, patent applicants, practitioners and the public use the public PAIR to check the status of pending and issued patent applications. (A private PAIR system is restricted to registered users, mostly patent professionals.) This public system provides an easy way for patent lawyers and their clients to monitor applications, Heels says.

"My patent and trademark law firm, Clock Tower Law Group, routinely sends static URLs to clients so that they can monitor the progress of their own applications. We also monitor all of these URLs. One of the reasons that we proactively monitor URLs for our clients is because we believe that it is better to prevent problems before they get out of hand. For example, one of our client's trademarks was accidentally assigned to Viacom due to a USPTO error. If we had not been monitoring our client's trademarks, then this problem may not have been discovered."

Over the weekend, however, the USPTO replaced PAIR's static URLs with dynamically generated ones. The URL is good for the duration of a browser session, but once you close your browser, the URL no longer works. Heels writes:

"It's bad enough that neither the Patent Office nor the Trademark Office offer ATOM or RSS feeds for trademark status (TARR) and patent status (PAIR), but it's unforgivable that the Patent Office broke millions of static URLs over the weekend without notice (or apparent reason)."

At the blog Patently-O, Dennis Crouch also discusses the change. "What would really be useful," he adds, "would be to have a system that allows for automatic updates of PAIR data, such as an RSS feed."

Heels, meanwhile, urges others to e-mail the USPTO Electronic Business Center and urge it to restore static URLs.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 28, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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