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Face-PALM: US Patent and Trademark Office database down for 5 days and counting

No end in sight yet to mystery maintenance 'issue'

The US Patent and Trademark Office has taken a novel approach to dealing with the problem of patent trolls. The solution? Shut everything down.

The Patent Application Locating and Monitoring (PALM) database forms the backbone of a distressingly large number of US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) systems and, during some maintenance at 04:30 ET on 15 August, "experienced an issue".

More than five days on, PALM is still down. As such, this is more akin to the Titanic experiencing an iceberg "issue" rather than a straightforward turn it off and on again.

Systems impacted include the USPTO's Electronic Filing System (EFS), the Public and Private Patent Application Retrieval (PAIR) systems and the Electronic Patent Assignment (ePAS) among others.

36 hours after the outage began, the USPTO kicked off its contingency systems so users could at least still file patents (in theory), if not access saved submissions. Users were not convinced.

The USPTO also accepts paper filings but, er, will charge $400 if users insist on not using the electronic systems. Which, of course, are not working too well at the moment.

Unfortunately for customers struggling to make their filings, the kind old USPTO does "not plan to extend deadlines", according to a statement by Andrei Iancu, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Bad news for anyone trying to maintain their patent.

Predictably, users have turned to Twitter to express their unhappiness with the situation.

For its part, as well as dusting off its elderly fax machines this morning, the USPTO has called in "experts in databases, operating systems, and storage" to help solve the PALM issue. However, workers showing up at the office today, hoping to find things up and running, are likely to be disappointed.

Best wheel out those golf clubs, eh? ®

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