Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Is it just me or are those four horsemen riding towards us?"

Another day in the life of me.

I ran into quite the catch-22 today. See, I had a question about the ultimate deadline for filing an Appeal Brief with the USPTO so I called the PTO, thinking (foolishly, as it turned out) that they might be able to answer my question. A gentleman from OPLA (Office of Patent Legal Affairs, aka The People Who Supposedly Have The Answers To Difficult Questions) listened to my question then stated he would call me back with an answer, which he did a day or two later. His version has the Appeal Brief ultimately due 7 mo. from the filing of a Notice of Appeal, regardless of the Pre-Appeal Brief Conference Program and a decision therefrom.

After a minor snafu, the Office-Manager-Partner stopped by my office to set me straight. He says the Appeal Brief is ultimately due either 6 mo. from the Notice of Appeal or 6 mo. from the Decision on the Pre-Appeal Brief Conference. His closing line was: "Don't trust the PTO." Sage-like advice under normal circumstances but troubling to me here.

OPLA is supposed to know or be able to get "the answers." But OPLA is wrong. But neither position is actually supported by statute, rule or any other documentary evidence. Let me rephrase that last part. There is no publication that provides guidance for this minorly contentious point.

Realistically, a practitioner would never come close to the 6 mo. date from the Notice of Appeal or the Decision. Still, I just want to know for my own edification.

So what shall I do? That's rather easy. I know who signs my checks and so, of course, I shall follow the Partner's directive. Besides, if it turns out wrong, then I did nothing wrong since I simply listened to him. In addition, I think I shall hide in a corner, curled up in the fetal position.