An Examiner Interview and Interview Pilot Program

An Examiner Interview

An examiner interview is a useful tool available to an applicant during the patent prosecution process. It allows applicants and examiners to discuss specific issues during patent prosecution in person, over the phone, or via video-conference. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the number of interview has doubled between 2008 and 2013 because interviews have been shown to increase efficiency and patent quality, clarifying issues and advancing patent prosecution. Typically, an interview is conducted after a first Office Action on the merits. Recently, the USPTO introduced a new Full First Action Interview Pilot Program that allows applicants and examiners to identify issues early in the prosecution, prior to a first Office Action.

Full First Action Interview Pilot Program

Under the Full First Action Interview Pilot Program, an applicant is entitled to a first action interview, upon request, prior to the first Office action on the merits. The examiner will conduct a prior art search and provide applicant with a condensed pre-interview communication citing relevant prior art and identifying proposed rejections or objections.  Within 30 days of receipt, applicant schedules an interview and submits proposed amendments and/or arguments.  At the interview, the relevant prior art, proposed rejections, amendments and arguments will be discussed.  If agreement is not reached, the applicant will receive a first action interview Office action that includes an interview summary that constitutes a first Office action on the merits under 35 USC 132.