A Quick Guide to Changes on the USPTO Homepage

The patent searchers and patent analysts at Landon IP need to stay up-to-date on the latest patents news, and the most accurate news is usually found by going directly to the source: patent office websites.  For US patent news, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website is the go-to source for the latest developments in US patent law, examination procedures, and USPTO-produced patent search tools.  The USPTO website also provides valuable search resources and information on US trademarks and other IP law and policy.

The homepage of the USPTO website is a portal that should allow the user to quickly navigate to their desired resource, and this portal recently got a drastic makeover in late December.  How did this makeover change the navigation features and news available on the USPTO homepage?

After the jump, we’ll take a look at the changes to layout, navigation, and news features on the homepage of the USPTO website!
Just to illustrate the changes, here is the old USPTO homepage (which will be retired on February 29, 2012):

The USPTO homepage before Dec. 20, 2011.

And here is the USPTO homepage that was released December 20, 2011:

The USPTO homepage after Dec. 20, 2011.

The new USPTO homepage has a different color scheme than the old version of the site, with more shades of blue and less white space than the old homepage.  The new homepage also includes a large scrolling slideshow of images that takes up almost the entire top half of the page, while the old homepage has far fewer images visible at the top of the page.  In my opinion, the new homepage is more visually appealing than the old USPTO homepage, but how much has the navigation changed?  Let’s compare some navigation tools from both the old and new homepages:

The quick search form:

  • Old Homepage: The user can search by keyword or select from a list of questions in a drop-down menu (i.e. “How do I: Search for a patent?”).
  • New Homepage: The user can search the site by keyword or select to “search for patents” or “search for trademarks.”  The “search for patents/trademarks” links don’t conduct searches through the quick search form.  Instead, they link to a list of patent search databases and the portal page for the Trade Mark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Old search form (top) vs. new search form (bottom).

The main horizontal drop-down menu:

  • Old Homepage: The old homepage has three additional options in the horizontal main menu section that the new homepage menu lacks: “Careers”, “eBusiness/Alerts”, and “For Kids”.
  • New Homepage: The new menu moves the “About Us” section for the USPTO to the end of the menu and integrates the “Careers” section into the “About Us” drop-down menu.  The “eBusiness/Alerts” section options have been integrated into other sections: the old “Online Services” option is now under the “Products and Services” section, listed as “Online Services Hub.”  The old “eBiz Alerts” option is now under the “News and Notices” section as “Systems Status.”  The “For Kids” section doesn’t appear anywhere in the new menu.

Section Links:

  • Old Homepage: Three horizontal menus are available: “Patents”, “Trademarks”, and “IP Law and Policy”.  Each menu lists a number of important links for each topic.
  • New Homepage: The new homepage only provides a link (without any important links listed beneath) for each main topic.  The links navigate to a separate homepage for each topic.

Old section links (top) vs. new section links (bottom).

Other Popular Links:

  • Old Homepage: At the very bottom of the old homepage, users can find short descriptions and links to the “USPTO Data Visualization” center, the “Director’s Forum” Blog, and the “America Invents Act Online Guide.”
  • New Homepage: A number of important links and short descriptions are listed in a vertical menu on the bottom half of the page: a link to the old homepage (until 2/29/2012), “USPTO Updates Rules for Track 1″, “Small Entity Inventors”, “The Director’s Forum”, and the “Data Visualization Center”.  A link to the guide on the America Invents Act is located directly in the center of the page.

Unique to the New Homepage:

  • Scrolling slide show of images and recent news.
  • Popular links.
  • A list of recent USPTO News headlines.
  • Other .Gov resources.

Sections unique to the new homepage.

Conclusion

The old version of the USPTO homepage provided a longer list of important links for each of the three main sections directly on the homepage, but these three horizontal menus cluttered the page and banished important links to the bottom of the portal.  By condensing these three sections to just links to section-specific pages, the new homepage makes room for a for a larger menu of important links, a central position for a link to the AIA guide, and space for new features like the “Popular Links ” and “USPTO News” sections.  I was particularly happy to see a newsfeed of recent headlines directly on the  USPTO homepage in a defined location, since the old homepage tended to list only one or two relevant news items at a time.  Now, the user can view the latest headlines directly on the homepage instead of wasting time navigating to the news section of the website.  For patent searchers, every moment counts.

The only disappointment I experienced about the new USPTO homepage was a lack of links to the kids’ section of the USPTO website.  How are we going to enforce a love of patents in children if we can’t even direct them to their section of the website?  Think of the children, USPTO.

What do you think of  the new USPTO homepage?  Let us know in the comments!

Patent Analysis from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.

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One Response

  1. […] Intellogist: A Quick Guide to Changes on the USPTO Homepage – The USPTO homepage’s familiarity to any patent or trademark researcher facilitates the […]

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