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Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program

The window for submitting requests to participate in the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program has closed. All eligible applications containing a timely submitted request will still be treated under the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program's procedure. Thank you for your interest and participation in the program.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is expanding the First Action Interview Pilot Program to other art areas and modifying the procedure under the program to enhance efficiency and provide more options to participants. Under the program, participants are permitted to conduct an interview with the examiner after reviewing a Pre-Interview Communication providing the results of a prior art search conducted by the examiner. Participants in the program experienced many benefits including:  (1) the ability to advance prosecution of an application; (2) enhanced interaction between applicant and the examiner; (3) the opportunity to resolve patentability issues one-on-one with the examiner at the beginning of the prosecution process; and (4) the opportunity to facilitate possible early allowance.

The following is a list of the major enhancements of the program:

  1. The pilot is expanded across more art units in the Technology Centers.
  2. After receiving the Pre-Interview Communication, participants will be given greater flexibility in selecting the amount of procedure they need to advance prosecution during the pilot program. (Previously, all participants had to go through all phases of the pilot’s procedure.)  
  3. The time period to reply set forth in the Pre-Interview Communication will be extendable by one additional month. (Previously, the time period for reply was non-extendable.)
  4. Failure to timely reply to the Pre-Interview Communication or to timely conduct the interview will not result in abandonment of the application. Instead, a first action will be provided, similar to waiving the interview.

**The procedure for the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program offers more benefits and flexibilities to the participants than the initial pilot program. Therefore, for applications in which a request for the initial First Action Interview Pilot Program has been accepted by the USPTO, but a Pre-Interview Communication has not been provided to the applicants, the application will be processed under the procedure for the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program.

The effective date for the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program is October 1, 2009.

Extensions of the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program

The USPTO published a notice on November 2, 2010, extending the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program for an additional six months.  Any request for the pilot program must be filed before April 1, 2011.

The USPTO previously published a notice on May 4, 2010, extending the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program to include requests for the pilot program filed before October 1, 2010.

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Eligibility

New utility nonprovisional applications that fall within one of the following groups may be eligible for the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program:

  1. Applications filed on or before February 1, 2007, and assigned to workgroup 1610 (art units 161X).
  2. Applications filed on or before January 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 1795 (effective FY11, former art unit 1795 has been renumbered as workgroup 172X (art units 172X)).
  3. Applications filed on or before May 1, 2008, and assigned to workgroups 2150 and 2160 (art units 215X and 216X).
  4. Applications filed on or before October 1, 2008, and assigned to workgroups 2440 and 2450 (art units 244X and 245X).
  5. Applications filed on or before September 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 2617.
  6. Applications filed on or before August 1, 2008, and assigned to art units 2811-2815, 2818, 2822-2823, 2826, 2829, and 2891-2895.
  7. Applications filed on or before March 1, 2008, and assigned to art unit 3671.
  8. Applications filed on or before April 1, 2008, and assigned to art unit 3672.
  9. Applications filed on or before February 1, 2008, and assigned to art unit 3673.
  10. Applications filed on or before May 1, 2008, and assigned to art unit 3676.
  11. Applications filed on or before October 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 3677.
  12. Applications filed on or before February 1, 2008, and assigned to art unit 3679.
  13. Applications filed on or before August 1, 2006, and assigned to art unit 3735.
  14. Applications filed on or before July 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 3736.
  15. Applications filed on or before March 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 3737 and 3777.
  16. Applications filed on or before November 1, 2006, and assigned to art unit 3768.
  17. Applications filed on or before March 1, 2007, and assigned to art unit 3739.
  18. Applications filed on or before December 1, 2007, and assigned to art units 3762 and 3766.
  19. Applications filed on or before December 1, 2006, and assigned to art unit 3769.

 Class and art unit assignment data are available via the Patent Application Information Retrieval System (PAIR) at Public PAIR link http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair.

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Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program Notice

The Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program notice was signed September 16, 2009, and published on October 20, 2009, at 1347 OG 173.

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Enhanced First Action Interview Process Flowcharts

Enhanced First Action Interview Process Flowcharts

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions [PDF] [Last updated February 4, 2010]

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Changes Between the Original and Enhanced Pilot Programs

A summary of the changes between the original and enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Programs

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Participation

Applicant's request to participate in the program must be filed during the six month life of the program and at least one day before a first Office action on the merits of the application appears in the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system.  Please see the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program Notice for further details.

The request to enter the Pilot Program must be made via EFS-Web which can be accessed at: http://www.uspto.gov/ebc/index.html

EFS-Web requires an applicant to be a REGISTERED eFILER.  Registered eFILERs must have an assigned Customer Number and Digital Certificate.  Obtaining a Customer Number and Digital Certificate can be initiated at:  http://www.uspto.gov/ebc/portal/register.htm

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Tips to Consider When Preparing for Interview

Interview Talking Points [PDF]

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Contacts

RE: EFS-Web or PAIR system - contact the Electronic Business Center at 866-217-9197.

RE: a specific application - contact John Follansbee at (571) 272-3964.

RE: the Enhanced First Action Interview Pilot Program notice - contact Joseph Weiss ((571) 272-7759), Legal Advisor, Office of Patent Legal Administration, or e-mail first.action.interview@uspto.gov.


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Last Modified: 5/10/2011 2:05:01 PM