Work in Progress: Navigating the New USPTO Website

By Gene Quinn
October 13, 2009

Recently I went to USPTO.gov and like many others noticed that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has launched its new website. You may recall that on August 31, 2009, the beta test release of its new website design, which was redesigned to improve the look and feel, as well as to enhance the user experience with improved navigation. I have not really had a lot of time to go through the website, and as bad as the old site was at least over time I figured out where everything was, so it is to be expected that it will take time to familiarize myself with the new USPTO website. My initial reaction is that this is a positive step in the right direction, but it seems to be very much still a work in progress. I don’t say that to be critical, and having redesigned IPWatchdog.com several times over the years I know it is a daunting challenge.

Always looking for the latest news and information relative to the Patent Office for writing purposes, I started my investigative surfing by clicking on News at the top menu bar. Once on the News page one of the first things that caught my attention was the USPTO Videos page.  The top video on that page is for “Suction Tire,” which when followed will take you through to an Ad Council page for Invent Now.  This ad is from July 2008, so it is a bit old.  Perhaps it was on the old site and simply unfindable, like so much of the information was.  Not that this type of thing is critical or useful to the industry, but it is interesting/cool and the fact that it could be found suggests that maybe this new website is indeed going to make navigation and finding both useful and interesting information possible.

One thing I noticed that I didn’t like much was also on the News page. If you click on Federal Register Notices you are taken to a page that seems to have a long list of Notices published in the Federal Register, the top few are shown below in a screen shot.

 

 

As you can see, the most recent Federal Register Notice is from January 28, 2009, which is close to 9 months ago. There have been Federal Register Notices relating to the USPTO since then, but you would not know it by looking at this page. Similarly, on the Testimony and Speeches page there are currently none showing. I am sure in time these glitches will be worked out, hopefully sooner rather than later given that disseminating timely and accurate information should be of the utmost importance.

Finally, news of the launch of the new USPTO website does not seem to be findable through the News page.  Presently it is accessible through a rotating series of the most recent news stories at the top of the USPTO homepage.  When it comes up you can click on “Read More” and then you are taken to the launch announcement.  This announcement does not appear to have the same indexing as do the press releases, it has no date and it does not seem to be accessible through any of the subpages of the News page.  This is a relatively minor point really, but it makes me wonder if there are some categories of news or announcements that would not be findable by surfing the new USPTO website.

All and all I think the new USPTO website will be a big step forward, but in the meantime things may be hard to find, certainly until everyone becomes familiar with the new, friendlier navigation.  Over time I suspect the pages will become more robust with information and glitches that have announcements and other information not present or not findable will be resolved.  I also have great hope that this new mentality at the Patent Office, namely that information should be findable by the public, will continue to carry forward.  There are already initial initiatives to investigate (see USPTO Data Dissemination Solution via Invent Blog) the feasibility of providing all of its data, perhaps as much as a 2 petabytes (i.e., 2000 terabytes or 2 million gigabytes – see Wisegeek.com).  I have long wondered why issued patents were not available in searchable format.  I mean if patent examiners are going to be able to use old patents should they be searchable?  Just seems fair to me, and it seems like that would pretty much kill invention scams that use ridiculously fraudulent searches to dupe unsophisticated inventors into wasting upwards of $300 million per year.

In any event, kudos to the Obama Administration and the USPTO for moving forward on plans to make government more transparent.  While I certainly do not agree with everything (or perhaps anything) going on in Washington, D.C. these days it is important to recognize good ideas and solid effort where it exists, and the Patent Office is certainly one of the bright spots.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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There are currently 1 Comment comments.

  1. Thomas Jackson October 14, 2009 8:56 am

    USPTO personnel need to learn the new web site. I have been working with an inventor who would like very much to prepare his own formal drawings from his informal drawings. So I went in search of the “Guide for Preparation of Patent Drawings” circa June 2002 on the new USPTO web site. It was only a month ago that I was able to find a copy on the old web site. Well, after twenty minutes of searching, I finally learned that the Guide is out of print and will be made available at some point in time through the Government Printing Office, meanwhile, here is a link and, beleive it or not, there it was, in a zip file for download. Well, meanwhile, I had been on hold waiting for the Inventor Assistance Center (IAC) personnel and, lost my web site link. When an ex-examiner from the IAC was able to speak with me, he indicated that a new inventor need not worry about formal drawings until the application is allowed. What about a Notice to File Missing Parts and a requirement for formal drawings for publication? Well, anyway, I could not find the link again and was not able to tell my IAC representative where to find it. He said that they had been receiving calls all day about how to find what we used to be able to find quickly.