Alexandria, VA – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced its First Full Action Interview Pilot Program, which, unlike a previous test program, applies to all areas of technology.
Under this program, if an eligible utility patent applicant electronically files a request prior to the first Office action on the merits, he or she must be granted an interview with the patent examiner assigned to the case. Traditionally, the grant of such a preliminary interview was with the discretion of the examiner.
To be eligible, the subject patent application must not have more than three independent claims and twenty or fewer total claims that are directed to a single invention.
After a proper request has been filed, the examiner will conduct a prior art search and provide the applicant with a Pre-Interview Communication which will include cites to prior art references and an identification of potential rejections and/or objections (if at least one claim is not allowable).
The electronic requests to participate may be filed as of May 16, 2011, and the program will run for one year from that date. No additional fees are required to participate.
The USPTO previously conducted this sort of program as an experiment in certain technical areas under the name Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program. The present expansion of the program is based upon comments from the public as well as USPTO professionals.