Obviously, as soon as I heard about it, I had to beg to be in the trial. Apparently all them big firms have been trialling it for a while so I was expecting it to be super already.
You need a EPO smart card to use the system and the IPO have to register that on their system. This is good. It gives you a nice sense of security because after all you are going to be seeing details over the web of unpublished patent applications. Next they send you an email with a one-time password and a snail mail letter with the user name. You trot off to https://www.patent.service.gov.uk/ViewMyCases/ and attempt the intelligence test of resetting your password. Being of limited intelligence, I failed at my first attempt but seem to have succeeded at the second and was rewarded with a nice list of all my pending UK patent applications on the crisp white background that we are now accustomed to seeing on new .gov applications. It doesn't actually say that there are 20 on each page but that's how many there are. It's nice to know because it helps to reconcile with your home database. If you haven't paid the application fee, the case isn't listed. The default order is the UK serial number so your PCT national phases come in unexpected places.
There are 2 hyperlinks on each record. The one connected to the number shows you a little register entry and the one on the left shows you the documents the IPO have generated. Yours aren't there as they are in IPSUM. You might not notice but lurking on all the screens under the title in that big black bar is a menu That allows you to switch between the case list, recent documents and notifications. The notifications option is simply to allow you to demand an email every time they supply a new document. I suggest you do unless you have someone to check it every day.
It seems that one of my cases in the case list doesn't have a reference. I can't add one in this interface.
I was hoping that my search reports would include a link to the documents in Espacenet, but they don't. When you look at the document it is just a nice crisp PDF. This is nice as now I don't have to scan the paper that comes into the office so I am a happy bunny.
The interface is simple, straightforward and easy to work with. You don't get a manual. You don't need one.
I have some issues with the statuses in the case list. They don't quite seem to reconcile with my database, but I suspect that that is partly because there is a limited number of choices.
There are no communication facilities associated with this application. It is simply passive and a way of delivering documents from the IPO to your desk without using the Royal Mail.
Presumably cases disappear on grant which might be a little disconcerting. I shall watch out to see what happens.
One of the problems I can foresee for the IPO is deciding which of the feedback suggestions they get from agents to implement. Hopefully we can all agree that the document should include the citations. Is there a CIPA committee looking at this. What are they saying on our behalf. For agents working solo this is a very useful tool and hopefully all of you who want it will be able to get it.