The United States Patent and Trademark Office is initiating a six-month pilot program that will allow an applicant to have an interview with the patent examiner prior to the first Office action on the merits in a new utility application.
The First Action Interview Pilot program will expedite prosecution of the patent application by enhancing the interaction between the applicant and the examiner, providing the applicant an opportunity to resolve patentability issues one-on-one with the examiner at the beginning of the review process. The program will begin on April 28.
“As we have learned from our Accelerated Examination program, an interview between the applicant and examiner early in the review process can help resolve issues more quickly and expedite a final decision,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. “We believe the enhanced information exchange in the First Action Interview Pilot program will offer dual benefits of reduced pendency and improved patent quality.”
Currently, an applicant may request an interview prior to a first action. Granting of an interview is within the discretion of the examiner who has not yet reviewed the case, and the applicant may be required to identify relevant documents and explain how the invention is patentable over these documents.
Under the pilot program, the examiner will conduct a prior art search and provide the applicant a pre-interview communication which is a condensed preview of objections or rejections proposed against the claims. Within 30 days from the issue date of the pre-interview communication, the applicant must either choose not to have a first action interview with the examiner, or schedule the interview and file a proposed amendment and/or remarks.