Tuesday, January 01, 2008

USPTO Discontinues Another Paper Publication

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the USPTO is discontinuing the paper version of its Patent and Trademark Office Notices effective December 25, 2007. The Notices, which are also published in the weekly Official Gazette, include announcements on USPTO policies, fees, mailing addresses and patent attorney registration. Other information related to patents includes expired patents, certificates of correction, withdrawn patents, maintenance fee notices, new reexamination proceedings and reissue applications. Notices will continue to appear in the electronic Official Gazette and the USPTO's online archive, which contains notices from 1995 to the present.

In my opinion, this is a positive, if overdue change... Other patent offices long ago discontinued their print gazettes and notices. But it's also a missed opportunity because the electronic version of the Notices is simply a facsimile of the print version. Why not integrate the post-allowance data published in the Notices (e.g. corrections, disclaimers, withdrawn numbers, expired patents) with other existing tools such as the PatFT database? It would be much more convenient and time saving to have access to this data in one place.