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Document Intake Automation & Capture

Patent Prosecution teams within a law firm must download documents from the USPTO’s secure website called Private Pair, which is available only to issued certificate holders. Modern IP prosecution practice management finds benefits around centralized management of incoming documents and upcoming docket actions yet there exists an operational threshold within an IP prosecution practice in which the number of timekeepers and volume of open applications surpasses the tolerance of risk and productive efficiency. At this point, the practice is not efficient unless it is utilizing a centralized management of incoming documents, upcoming dockets, notification to matter personnel, and related double checking and quality assurance mechanisms.

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PAIRLink Module

The PracticeLink document Intake module, PAIRLink, is an elegant back office tool for USPTO Private Pair document capture and direction integration with a firm’s document management system (DMS), docket generation business process and matter personnel notification delivery. Ultimately, PAIRLink provides four interconnected business solutions as shown in the diagram below...

PairLink Module

Document Download – At schedule times throughout the day the PAIRLink Download services will initiate either a 3 or 7-day lookback of Private Pair outgoing correspondences associated with the customer numbers directly tied to each authenticating PKI certificate.

DMS Document Release – The incoming document’s USPTO Application number can be used to lookup Client Matter information from a source within the firm. Client and Matter information is used to generate the appropriate profile for uploading the incoming document to the DMS.

Notification of Document Arrival – Following the addition of the new item to the document management system, a routing process generates a notification that the new document has arrived. Recipients of these notifications can be configured, but typically all new documents are sent to docketing and the majority of documents are routed to matter personnel.

E-Office Action Monitor and Double Check – The USPTO created email notification for alerting firms of the availability of new documents can be centralized to a dedicated email box that will be monitored daily. As new E-Office Action emails outlining application numbers and specific new documents arrive, the PAIRLink E-Office Email Monitor parses the email and verifies that the document references have been downloaded by the PAIRLink tool. In the event that the document has not been downloaded within a specified period, typically 48-72 hours, an additional QA special exception notification will be generated.

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PAIRLink Regression Tool: An Add-on Feature for Transfers and Laterals

Sometimes a historic hole exists for an existing application in the firm’s Document Management System. This may occur when users have different names for the same matter file or if applications come from a different firm. There is a desire to connect to the USPTO Private Pair, as with PAIRLink, but not want the notifications on historic information. In partnership with PAIRLink, the PAIRLink Regression Tool was designed to regress to the beginning of the application’s history.

The PAIRLink Regression Tool downloads historic documents associated with specific application numbers available on the USPTO Private Pair site. The complete IFW (USPTO Individual File Wrapper) document download is especially valuable for applications transferred in from other firms or back filling an electronic matter file with documents that may not have been previously saved or profiled in the DMS.

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TSDRLink Module

A trademark document download tool, TSDRLink, functions as an automated service focused on downloading documents from the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval site (TSDR) provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). TSDRLink complements our existing product, PAIRLink, which is built for retrieval of patent documents from the USPTO’s Private Pair site. The Trademark Serial numbers for documents that need to be downloaded are added to the TSDR Download Queue in one of two ways:

TSDR Notification Automated Email Parsing, which is accomplished with an additional windows service that monitors a specified email box that is expected to receive notifications from the USPTO regarding new Trademark documents ready for download. The Email monitor service uses Exchange Web Services to access the email box, identifies emails from the USPTO which contain this information and then parse those emails to identify the serial numbers. The date of the email and related documents noted in the body of the email allow TSDRLink to know the date range for which it should download documents from the TSDR.USPTO.GOV site.

User Initiated Retrieval, which is accomplished by a user requesting a visit by the TSDRLink tool to the USPTO in order to gather any documents related to that trademark application which the TSDRLink tool has not previously retrieved within the configurable lookback date range. For organizations who have the Aurora North PracticeLink Suite including the WorkPortal module, the user request can be initiated by a single button click from the Tri-Fold document area on the Matter Details pages. A simple one-page web form, which can receive a serial number as a text input, is provided for any organization which does not have an existing Aurora North Client Matter WorkPortal.

Following the download of a trademark document from the USPTO, TSDRLink utilizes a document release process which results in storing the document in the organization’s document management system. The document release process first employs a dynamic SQL lookup utilizing the trademark serial number in order to identify the appropriate client and matter related to the trademark application in the organization’s system of record. This is most commonly a docketing system or a financial system. Once the Client and Matter have been identified, the TSDRLink release process uses this information to identify the appropriate location to store the document within the document management system. Document Naming, Document Attributes and Storage Folder Locations are all configurable to make sure the document is stored within your document management system in a logical and organized fashion.

TSDRLink Module

TSDRLink has a built-in notification system which can generate emails or PracticeLink Work Item Tasks in order to notify docketing staff, administrative users and users associated with the matter, that the document has arrived and is ready for review. The notification system is also dynamic and can utilize attributes of the trademark application to execute the appropriate dynamic lookups for condition-based recipient specification. Additionally, the body and subject of the notification email template are configurable to deliver the appropriate message for the arrival of new documents within your organization.

TSDRLink automates the access to tsdr.uspto.gov, then it captures and retrieves documents for specific trademark serial numbers. The automated services within TSDRLink leverage a database to store a queue of serial numbers related to trademark applications for which documents are to be retrieved from the Trademark Status and Data Retrieval USPTO site. The TSDRLink services work through the queued list of serial numbers to download the related Trademark Applications documents.

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PTABLink Module

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) site allows users to access and download documents relating to patent trials, appeals, and patent re-examination proceedings. The PTAB site provides an Application Programmers Interface (API) which allows programmatic access and retrieval of documents via Web services.

Our PTABLink module is a document download tool that will provide automated document download, document management system profiling, and notification of arrival of the document to responsible matter personnel. The automated elements of the system are executed asynchronously using Windows services functioning on configured schedules and timers with the PTAB key for identifying trial documents being the trial number.

On a daily schedule the PTABLink tool uses SQL lookup into the docketing system to identify open and active trial numbers for which the system should review on the PTAB site for newly available documents. Each Trial Number identified in the docketing system lookup is queued in the PTABLink database to be visited and reviewed for new documents.

Once a document related to a PTAB trial is downloaded, it will be queued to be profiled and uploaded into the Document Management System (DMS). Additional SQL lookups setup during configuration will help map the Trial Number provided by the PTAB system to the appropriate Client\Matter identifier which is used to generate the document profile.

The insertion of the document into the DMS will trigger the notification process which will generate Emails and/or PracticeLink Document Review Work Items that will be distributed to appropriate matter personnel identified in an additional lookup into the Docketing System.

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Email Intake Module

Email correspondence is direct, individual-oriented, and offers no transparency or task management. It further creates risk to the firm as a single point of failure, creating the potential for missed deadlines when there is a sole recipient. The profiling of correspondence, especially of emails, in the Document Management System (DMS) is haphazard and lacks uniformity.

The effects of these inconsistencies contribute to the inefficiency of timekeepers by creating the need to cross reference matter information and application data between the DMS and the docketing system on a per document basis. Transparency and task management within a prosecution team are also challenges facing many practice groups today. The following diagram displays how our Email Intake module automates this process within the PracticeLink Suite.

Email Intake

Email Box Monitoring - Inbound Email Extraction from a centralized email box, saving email and all of its attachments to the file system.

PDF Conversion - PDF snapshot of the email enables ability to view the email content in a web browser.

Auto Profile Pattern Matching - Automatically profiles using scripted pattern matching formats based on docket identifiers such as client or matter numbers.

Indexing - Profiling of a document and confirmation of the docket identifier, document classification codes, document codes and related attributes. Suggested values are dynamically sourced typically from the Docketing System with appropriate values for document management system profiling.

Multi Matter Split/Merge Indexing - Emails containing information relevant to multiple matters or an entire matter family can be directed to multiple matters during the Indexing Process. The original email and its attachments can be split up and remerged in order to deliver the appropriate copies of document parts to the respective locations in the matter file within the document management system.

Release to Document Management System (DMS) - Asynchronous queue based services file the original document (.eml), including its attachments, into the document management system. The document will then be profiled to the appropriate docket or client matter which is determined during Indexing.

Notification of New Document Arrival - Distributed notification of new documents, including configurable routing rules allow for dynamic generation of New Document Arrival Work Items from PracticeLink for all individual users identified as having a role with the identified matter and document type. Document types in combination with client and matter level rules provide a very detailed list of recipients for newly arrived documents.

Exception Handling and QA - Email Monitoring, PDF Conversion, Release to DMS, and Document Routing are the primary services that make up Email Intake. Each has a database table that is monitored for issues and exceptions. Furthermore, Aurora North’s QA Support has both automated and manual monitoring processes for ensuring rapid identification and resolution. User Interface Reports and exception work item generation are additional tools that allow admin users to monitor and QA the email Intake process.

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Document Profiling & DMS Attribute Indexing

Direction - Emails present in the monitored inbox could be one of the following scenarios:

  • Outbound -From: Firm DomainTo: External Domain
  • Inbound -From: External DomainTo: Firm Domain
  • Internal -From: Firm DomainTo: Firm Domain

The ‘To’ and ‘From:’ domains on each email establish default direction settings. The direction setting can be utilized to pre-filter potential document type or classification options.

Client\Matter Matching - The subject and first 2000 characters of the email body are reviewed for pattern matching using configurable regular expression character searches. If a regular expression pattern match is identified, the value is looked up in the docketing system. When the docketing system returns a match, the client matter value is set as a default in the Document Indexing screen.

Document Indexing - The Document Indexing screen contains a matter search box that searches across client matter number, docket number, application number or other defined matter identifiers.

Document Type or Classification- A configurable attribute to assist with categorization of emails which can later be used with notification and document routing protocols. Document types and classifications can also be used to influence document naming conventions and DMS profiling.

Email Intake provides automated monitoring and document capture tools for simplified document profiling and insertion of the email into the document management systems from centralized email boxes. Email Intake also provides mechanisms for browser enabled viewing of the incoming email and task or notification generation for the docketing team and matter personnel as shown in the following diagram.

 Document Profiles
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Document Automation Summary – Business Benefits & ROI Opportunities

The automation of Patent Document Retrieval in a timely fashion, with redundancies to catch human error and improve accuracy, is the key to streamlining retrieval of USPTO documents. Capitalizing on the effective solutions provided by the PracticeLink Suite will support the following desired outcomes:

  1. 1. Reduce Document Delay - documents are received same day as PTO Private Pair posting.
  2. 2. Reduce Paper Processing - documents are routed to firm’s legal and administrative personnel as soon as they are received.
  3. 3. Reallocate Resources - remove manual download processes and routing / notification.
  4. 4. Increase Accuracy - with constant coding and naming, standard documents are consistently coded and placed in the correct location.
  5. 5. Streamline Operations - set the table for electronic mail logs, lightning fast client reporting and other core procedures.
  6. 6. Lower Risk - Implement Firm-wide Exception Policies – if documents are downloaded and matters are not found due to inaccurate data, standard electronic policies will identify, notify, and correct.
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