Thursday, December 24, 2015

USPTO Online and IT Systems shut down on 22 Dec. 2015 due to power outage

Donald Zuhn at Patent Docs reported the problem in a post titled Major Power Outage Causes Shutdown of USPTO Online and IT Systems -- USPTO to Consider December 22-24 to be "Federal Holidays".

The comments to the Zuhn post are of interest:

At least you guys noticed. The absence of this story from PatentlyO (at least as of the time of this writing) confirms that author's total lack of involvement with actual patent prosecution. I think academia is like the Dark Side.

Don't know how to explain IPWatchdog's silence.

Posted by: Heebie-Jeebies | December 24, 2015 at 12:17 AM

Wow. This Googler-led patent office doesn't understand the concept of redundancy and separating your systems - even the "EFS-Web contingency" system is down, which means it was housed at the same location and running on the same power source as EFS, PAIR, etc.


I hope the woman from Google knows about the concept of back-ups. I'd hate to find, come Monday morning, that various file histories that were kept only in electronic format have disappeared. The PTO couldn't be *that* bad, right? Or could it?

Posted by: Disbelievin' Doug | December 24, 2015 at 04:33 AM

What an absolute shit show. The Patent Office ultimately did the right thing, but they should have done it sooner.

Posted by: Some Random Guy | December 24, 2015 at 06:30 AM

Completely agree with the comment about the USPTO's apparent failure to provide any sort of "emergency" redundancy. It’s startling that the USPTO apparently had no real “backup system” to handle such an emergency for electronic systems that are so vital to their operations, as well as those customers who use it. I can’t imagine any major corporation ever leaving such important electronic systems so vulnerable to such a “meltdown,” knowing full well the serious consequences of doing so.

Such a "meltdown" also couldn't have happened at a worse time of year. There are many, many corporations that will be asking their patent attorneys to file many, many new applications between now and the end of the year. In addition, the USPTO, if it has the authority, would be wise to announce that they're waiving the fee normally charged for non-electronic filing of new applications-the failure to file electronically is almost certainly not the fault of the applicants. If the USPTO can't get their electronic systems up and running by Monday (December), I can just hear the “firestorm” building as all those folks trying to make last minute (and many) filings are told they have to use the old Express Mail procedure as the only Plan B.

Posted by: EG | December 24, 2015 at 07:37 AM

Although the reference to Google is to Michelle Lee, one assumes the absence of back-up existed during the tenure of Kappos, the man from IBM. Two Obama appointees failed to foresee this potential issue.

***The Register ran a humorous story Christmas comes early at US Patent office after massive IT outage including the text:

Declaring the 22nd through 24th to be Federal holidays isn't just a nicety: it means payments due on those days will be accepted on the next business day, while correspondence sent to the organisation “will be considered filed in the USPTO on the date the USPTO received the electronic transmission.”

The organisation says it is working hard and fast to sort things out before Christmas and will post more news of its capabilities on December 28th.

A little light Googling suggests the USPTO is a user of Juniper (PDF) and EMC and Cisco products.

Here's hoping the USPTO's tech team can get this sorted before the real holidays arrive: data centres aren't much of a place to spend the festive season

A post at FCW included the text:

"We are working diligently to assess the operational impact on all our systems and to determine how soon they can be safely brought back into service in the coming days," the agency pledged. "We understand how critical these systems are for our customers, and our teams will continue to work around the clock to restore them as quickly as possible, though the impacts may be felt through the Christmas holiday."

USPTO's blog post directs applicants who are up against deadlines to use alternative filing methods, including snail mail -- which comes with a $400 non-electronic filing fee.

USPTO web apps are meant to be available 24/7.

When asked whether USPTO staff would be working on Christmas Eve or Christmas to get the systems back online, an agency spokesman declined to say, merely pointing back to the official statement.



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