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Thanks for your take on this Dominic.
Today, the USPTO announced a brand new search page / engine to replace the horrific system that has been on their website for the past 30 years.
Here's the announcement: USPTO website and the search tool: Tool link.
For those of you in the know (aka former search room users or ex-examiners), it's the same syntax as the internal USPTO search engine EAST aka BRS. It took me about 20 seconds to remember all the commands, but for the general public, it's going to be a tough slog using a command line interface.
Also, while the layout is extremely customizable, you sort of need to know what a layout should look like to set yourself up for efficiency. For example, the icon to switch from text to images in the document viewer is about as hidden as anything I've ever hunted for. Very Waldo-esque.
While I can complain or gripe about some technicalities (only US data for instance), the fact is, this is a MASSIVE improvement for the previously embarrassing USPTO website. The tool has a full suite of features normally restricted to commercial ($$) tools.
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