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Mind-reading no longer required. The USPTO's new Patent Application Alert Service will send you an email when a patent application meeting your search criteria publishes.

Crystal ball no longer required. The USPTO’s new Patent Application Alert Service will send you an email when a patent application meeting your search criteria publishes.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has a new service that allows users to receive an e-mail alert when a patent application of interest publishes (creatively named “Patent Application Alert Service“- PAAS for short)

     According to the USPTO, the system provides “customized, email alerts to the public for free when patent applications of interest are published.” The system also offers direct access to the published applications that meet the set search criteria.

   To use the service, go to the PAAS link here and register by entering your email , name and creating a password. Once you click the link to join, the USPTO will send you an email to validate your account.

     Once your account is set up, reading the “FAQ” will be very helpful, as the USPTO search queries have some idiosyncrasies. For example, if you want to add an exact multi-word term to your search you wouldn’t enclose it in ” “, as usual. Instead, you would select “Search Exact” from the drop-down menu.

    The system allows you to search by keyword in the application’s title, inventor, assignee name and by other fields. Note that returned search results (when there is a list) are in order of relevance and not necessarily by date. Also note that users running Internet Explorer 8 may have some reduced functionality on the site. Internet Explorer 9-11, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari 8 should all run fine.

    To set up a new alert, go to the “New Alert” tab and then click on “Add New Alert.” For example, here’s a screen shot of our test run for new applications having Personal Audio as assignee:Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 10.16.34 PM

     One potential use of the alert service is to time the filing of prior art for “pre-issuance” submission into applications of interest. The prior art pre-issuance submission process was established under the America Invents Act (AIA).  According to the USPTO, to date, it has received more than 2,600 pre-issuance submissions across all technologies.  More information on the pre-issuance submission program and how members of the public can participate can be found here.

     The idea for the patent application alert service came from a public roundtable held at the USPTO in April 2014. During the roundtable, the USPTO solicited input regarding the use of crowdsourcing and pre-issuance submissions to identify relevant prior art. The PTO says that the new service is a direct result of its continued stakeholder engagement with the goal of enhancing the quality of examination and issued patents.

Let’s all hope….

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