Upon firing up my computer this morning, I found an email warning me that some changes had been made to PAIR; this was confirmed upon logging into PAIR. The changes effected are listed in the screenshot below (or here, if you need larger type): the ability to search Hague Agreement design applications (once the USA officially joins the Hague Agreement); indications regarding whether public or private PAIR is being used; name of the pki certificate holder’s name (for private sessions); indication of the address for correspondence in both public and private PAIR; and the addition of some collapsible menus in private PAIR to display the search options.
I have no beef with the first four changes - in fact, it's great to see the PTO anticipating a change that will only take effect in few months' time, and I look forward to the day when Israel facilitates electronic searching and viewing of its registered designs - but the last change is kind of annoying, since it imposes a few extra clicks before getting to the search screen, as opposed to the previous version of private PAIR, which showed all the search options on a single screen. See the screen shots below.
If the people at the PTO’s Electronic Business Center polled users before making these changes, they aren’t saying so.
Around 2007, apparently out of fear that its servers couldn’t handle heavy traffic from automated search-and-download programs, the PTO got rid of the ability to toggle back-and-forth between screens in PAIR. That feature was quite useful when comparing, for example, parent and divisional applications to one another. Apparently no one was consulted then, either.
And the documents downloaded from PAIR remain unsearchable, even if the original pdf files that were uploaded by the user were searchable. If you want a searchable file history, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny to a third party vendor, or make a searchable version yourself.
I think PAIR is a great tool, but please guys, next time you’re going to tinker with it, please ask us users first. Many parts of it don’t need fixing, and other parts that have long needed improvement remain in need.
Hat tip to Carl Oppedahl for the warning email.