Today we received two letters from the ILPTO asserting that we owed excess page fees in two applications. Upon checking the applications, we found that in one of the applications we had paid a fee for an extra 50 pages several years ago, but the office asserted additional money was owed because the application was 245 pages in length. Particularly annoying was that the issue fee for that case was recently paid. In the other case the office asserted that the application was over 100 pages in length when in fact it wasn't, which means that no excess page fees are due. We immediately contacted the ILPTO and by the end of the day the letters had been withdrawn, means that the staff person responsible manually played with the computer system to cancel the letters.
As we've noted before, the quick response from the ILPTO in cases such as this is one of the nice parts of dealing with an office that's much smaller than the USPTO. But what's concerning is the fact that the letters were issued at all. Although the name of a particular staff person appears on the bottom of the letters, that person doesn't actually send out the letters: they are generated automatically by the ILPTO's computer system in response to some particular input in the system (or lack thereof). For example, failure to timely file a response to an OA will eventually lead to a letter from the ILPTO saying that if you don't respond within a month from the date of the warning letter, the file will be closed. In these two cases, someone at the ILPTO had to count pages and manually enter information in the system indicating either (a) the number of pages, whereupon the system calculated how much was due in the way of fees, or (b) that excess page fees were due, after the person himself made the calculation. That this would happen twice suggests that either there was a systematic mis-entry of data, or a bug in the office's computer program that caused it to either associate incorrect information with a given application or to associate correct information with the wrong file.
Regardless, in view of the ILPTO's move to electronic-only filing which will come into full force in June, seeing a repeated glitch like this doesn't instill confidence.