From our “premature-announcement” dept.
GAPS (Google Patents) http://www.google.com/advanced_patent_search has had PDF for years, as has http://www.pat2pdf.org/, Free Patents Online http://www.freepatentsonline.com/search.html and practically every other patent search service. PDF patent images are the standard for courts and pdf patent images are readily available nearly everywhere else, so the USPTO announced it has dropped the archaic use of TIFF images and joined the modern world with PDF patent images. Now perhaps the PTO can gradually upgrade its obsolete search engine, perhaps to be more like Google’s or other free services.
Now if they really wanted to update their online services, perhaps the PTO could even make patent authoring software, such as www.teampatent.com (created by Rocky Kahn and his staff under NSF grant funding and even used by the EPO examiners for examining patents and automating office actions) has had freely available online for years, that would be customer service. Some of us, me included, think the PTO is too beholden to IBM and other big business interests to fulfill its opportunity to encourage small innovators who are the real engine for technological advancement and new jobs (at least new American jobs).
However, despite the announcement,blasted out by email today (8/24/2013) as follows:
“Patent on the Web Upgrade
The USPTO has upgraded the USPTO Full Text and Image Database. It now uses PDF images instead of TIFF images which provides several new benefits including the ability to print full documents. Patent images may be viewed, printed and saved using a standard PDF-equipped browser. A separate TIFF plug-in is no longer required. In addition to the standard page-by-page viewing, users may now also click on a “Full Document” button to retrieve all the patent images at once.”
a quick check of the link in the notice on 8/24/13 (date of the announcement) reveals the USPTO still uses TIFF images instead of PDF images and require a TIFF viewer like AlternaTIFF or Quicktime. Lack of credibility aside, the PTO is long overdue in switching to PDF, the overwhelming standard of the government and business world, as PDF provides several new benefits including the ability to print full documents rather than do it laboriously page by page. As the notice says if the PTO actually does what it says it already did, patent images may be viewed, printed and saved using a standard PDF-equipped browser. If the PTO actually does what it say it already did, a separate TIFF plug-in will be no longer required. In addition to the standard page-by-page viewing, users may now also click on a “Full Document” button to retrieve all the patent images at once.
I see the PTO is still using TIFF images in PatFT as of the date of the announcement of the switch.
I, for one, would prefer the PTO to just work out some deal with Google and let Google run the PTO full text search engine so it could be done properly and save the PTO millions of dollars in the process. Those millions could much more usefully go to hiring more examiners in the backlogged art units than paying for an obsolete search engine with limited capabilities and a poor interface.