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Posts Tagged: "filing deadlines"

USPTO Director Lee sued for declaring federal holiday, allowing IPR filing after statutory deadline

It was only going to be a matter of time before Director Lee declaring a federal holiday without any statutory authority came back to haunt the USPTO. Here the defendants were served with the complaint on December 24, 2014, which means any IPR had to be filed on or before Thursday, December 24, 2015. The defendants filed their IPR petitions on Monday, December 28, 2015. The patent owner argues in a recently filed federal complaint that the IPR petitions would be considered untimely but for Director Lee declaring December 22-24, 2015, federal holidays due to the catastrophic failure of the USPTO’s electronic filing systems.

The USPTO Director can legally extend filing deadlines for emergencies

In retrospect, the proper thing for Director Lee to have done would have been to declare an emergency under the powers vested in her by 35 USC 21(a). Under §21(a) the Director of the USPTO can declare that a paper was filed on a day that it would have been filed but for a disruption in mail service or emergency. The net effect is that the filing is treated the same as under the Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday rule. It would be wise for the Patent Office to issue a clarification on this matter, explaining that Director Lee declared an emergency under §21(a) of Title 35 and did not attempt to create a new federal holiday in honor of a catastrophic power outage.