Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Interview Program Continues to Find Success
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos
As I travel across the country and speak to our stakeholders, I have received many positive comments on the responsiveness and professionalism of our patent examiners when requesting and holding interviews. Practitioners tell me how helpful interviews are, and how helpful examiners are during interviews to resolve issues and advance prosecution. This proactive approach of reaching out to applicants during examination is reflected in our numbers. For the second fiscal year in a row, the number of interviews held by the examining corps has increased. In fact, we are on track to increase interview practice by 50% over two years ago by the end of this fiscal year. The sustained use of interviews has a direct impact in our on-going efforts to reduce pendency, improve quality, and increase Agency efficiency.
We continue to improve our interview program by working with our stakeholder community. Members of the bar and USPTO representatives held focus sessions prior to the October 2009 Partnering in Patents Program to discuss solutions that will improve interview practice before the USPTO. Representatives of the Office and members of the Electronics and Computer Law Committee (ECLC) of AIPLA collaborated to expand the focus session recommendations into a collaborative paper, Interview Best Practices, for practitioners and examiners. This paper is an excellent resource both examiners and stakeholders can use to help make interviews more effective.
Timely interactions with our stakeholders play an important role in achieving our strategic goal to reduce pendency. I’m thrilled with the results our entire team is achieving through our commitment to compact prosecution and the increased use of interviews. A discussion between the examiner and the applicant and/or applicant’s representative at an early stage of prosecution provides a better understanding of the invention, clarifies the scope of claims, enables both applicant and examiner to clear up any confusion on particular claim limitations, and helps focus search efforts. An early interview results in a more effective and efficient examination by identifying and resolving issues early in the prosecution. And of course, interviews during prosecution and even late in prosecution can help complete the process for examiners and applicants.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions on effective interview practice.