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August 13, 2018


My rewritten version of the PTO's explanations regarding some of the fee increases, this time complying with truth-in-advertising laws:

We want to raise the RCE fee AGAIN - we want to continue to reward bad examiners for doing a bad job, and penalize the applicants who are stuck with those examiners by charging them more money to file the RCEs that they'll inevitably need to get past these examiners. That sure beats the alternative, namely ensuring that the examiners understand that their role is not to just say "no" but to work with applicants to identify patentable stuff in their applications. POPA would oppose that.

And while we're at it, we want to encourage the submission of things in .docx format - what could possibly go wrong? Everyone knows we never make a mess of things filed in .pdf format, and how different could .docx possibly be? Yes, we know, it's possible to file searchable .pdf files, which could help us search, but we're really keen on this .docx thing.

And the practitioner registration fee: that definitely "will allow the costs associated with the services the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) provides practitioners in administering the disciplinary system and roster maintenance to be recovered directly from those practitioners". Maintaining that roster is a really costly enterprise, one that needs to be spread over the entire group of 30,000 or more active practitioners to the tune of several hundred dollars a year each. And we all know the OED provides great services to practitioners, that's why every practitioner looks forward to an encounter with the OED.

While I would not dispute cynicism with regard to fee increases, there are sound technical reasons for preferring DOCX (or, more precisely, ISO/IEC 29500 Office Open XML) over PDF. Indeed, the problems that pretty much anyone who accepts PDF submissions invariably has are all the evidence needed in support of a change.

In theory, PDF is also an open standard (ISO 32000). In practice, however, for most of its existence it has been open only due to the largesse of Adobe since the early 90s in publishing a Reference Book. To this day, there are almost as many quirky PDF file variations floating around the internet as there are implementations of the 'standard'. Which is why any organisation that receives thousands of PDF files every week will have problems with a certain percentage of them.

Changing to OOXML will be a good move, regardless of whether you use MS Office, or any other application of your choice, to generate it. No doubt there are many reasons to criticise the USPTO, but this is not one of them.

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