PTO Examiner Opines on Inventor’s Divorce, But PTO Refuses To Disclose What She Said

Background on inventor Gilbert P. Hyatt’s Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit:

This Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) case is a dispute over a single email. Plaintiff Gilbert P. Hyatt, an inventor with numerous applications pending before the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), learned during other litigation with the PTO that one of its patent examiners sent an email to all members of the “Hyatt Unit” that is responsible for examining his applications containing a link to a salacious 1993 newspaper article concerning Mr. Hyatt’s divorce, with the observation that the article “provides a unique glimpse into Hyatt’s mind.” The PTO produced that email in discovery. But what it did not produce, or even acknowledge the existence of, was a second email sent in response to the first one by another examiner, Cindy Khuu. This “Khuu Email,” the PTO has conceded, was sent from one patent examiner working on Mr. Hyatt’s patent applications to another, using the PTO’s email system, and concerns the subject of their work, Mr. Hyatt. Mr. Hyatt learned of the Khuu Email only by happenstance, when it was mentioned in a deposition. He filed a FOIA request for it, which the agency denied on the unbelievable ground that it is not an agency record at all. So Mr. Hyatt is now challenging that determination in court, seeking to compel the PTO to produce an email that it appears to be unwilling to release due to the embarrassment it may cause the agency.

According to the PTO, if the email is made public, “It is likely that Ms. Khuu would be subjected to annoyance or harassment, by Plaintiff or others.”

Hyatt’s litigation to compel the PTO to disclose the email is briefed and awaiting decision.

Legal filings:

Hyatt – Khuu FOIA Complaint

Hyatt – Khuu FOIA MSJ – Memorandum

PTO – Khuu FOIA MSJ Memo

Hyatt – Khuu Response and Reply