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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Conducting Interviews

Also see MPEP Chapter 713 for guidance on interview practice along with information accompanied on the uspto.gov website.

Why should I have an interview?

Interviews provide an opportunity to discuss the application with the examiner and can be useful to clarify positions, resolve issues, and provide a better understanding of the application to both parties.

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How do I request an interview with an examiner?

Applicants should call the examiner to request an interview.  The examiner’s contact information can be found in the Conclusion section of the most recent Office action or from the Employee Locator on our web page (www.USPTO.gov)

An applicant may also complete and submit an Application Initiated Interview Request Form (PTOL-413A) to request an interview with an examiner. See MPEP 713.01 III.

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When can interviews be held?

Interviews should be held during normal business hours, Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 5 PM.  Telephonic and video conference interviews may be held outside these hours if agreed upon by all participants.  Applicants and examiners may have to adjust their work schedule in order to find a mutually agreeable time to schedule an interview.   See MPEP 713.

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How long should a typical interview last?

It is the responsibility of both parties to the interview to see that it is not extended beyond a reasonable period, usually not longer than 30 minutes.  See MPEP  713.01 III.

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At what stage of prosecution should I request an interview?

Some of the most productive interviews occur after a first action on the merits when both parties have had an opportunity to consider the prior art; however, there is no bad time for requesting an interview. Examiners are encouraged to have an interview whenever the interview can resolve issues and help further prosecution. See MPEP 713.05 and MPEP 713.10.

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Can an interview occur prior to a First Office Action?

A request for an interview prior to the first Office action is ordinarily granted in continuing applications.  See MPEP 713.02.  Further, if the application is filed under a special program such as the First Action Interview Pilot or Accelerated Examination an interview may be appropriate according to the published guidelines of that program.

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Can an interview be held after final rejection?

Normally, one interview after final rejection is permitted. However, prior to the interview, the intended purpose and content of the interview should be presented briefly, preferably in writing. Such an interview may be granted if the examiner is convinced that disposal or clarification for appeal may be accomplished with only nominal further consideration. Interviews merely to restate arguments of record or to discuss new limitations which would require more than nominal reconsideration or new search should be denied. See MPEP 713.09.

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What methods are appropriate for conducting interviews?

Interviews may be held telephonically, via video conference, or in-person on a USPTO campus.   Applicant may request any of these interview methods and such request will normally be granted. Since some examiners work remotely from a USPTO campus, there may not always be an opportunity for an in-person interview. However, these examiners are available for video conference and telephonic interviews. See MPEP 713.01

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Are interview requests normally granted?

Yes, a request for an interview will normally be granted when appropriate and when a mutually agreed upon method and time can be found.  See MPEP 713.05 and MPEP 713.10

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Should I be prepared to discuss proposed amendments during the interview?

Yes, applicant’s representative should consult with the applicant prior to the interview to discuss the invention and all relevant issues and obtain applicant approval and/or negotiating authority to accept at least a range of reasonably foreseeable proposals that may arise during an interview.

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Do I need to provide an agenda for interview?

The examiner may request an agenda to facilitate a focused discussion on the issues.  While an agenda is not required to grant an interview, many examiners have found that requesting an agenda helps ensure a productive interview. An interview agenda may include information about references, claims or applied rejections the attorney wishes to discuss, as well as any proposed amendments or evidence the attorney will be providing. The mere absence of an agenda is not a reason to deny an interview request.  See MPEP 713.09

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Where can an interview be held?

All in-person interviews must be held on a USPTO campus. Video conference interviews and telephonic interviews can be held from your location. See MPEP 713.01

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Can I request an interview if I’m not the attorney of record?

While a registered practitioner not of record may request a telephone interview (if the practitioner is authorized to do so by the applicant or the attorney of record), it is recommended that a facsimile transmission of a power of attorney be filed prior to the interview. Otherwise, the examiner will conduct the telephone interview with the Office’s file closed and work solely from the practitioner’s file, which may be difficult to do over the phone.   See MPEP 713.05

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What if an attorney/applicant unexpectedly shows up requesting an interview without prior notice?

The unexpected appearance of an attorney or applicant requesting an interview without previous notice to the examiner may well justify the examiner’s refusal of the interview at that time.  See MPEP 713.01 III.  However, the examiner can suggest an alternate time to hold the interview when both parties are prepared.

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Does the substance of an interview need to be made of record?

Applicant is obligated to record the substance of the interview in each case unless the interview was initiated by the examiner and the examiner indicated on the “Examiner Initiated Interview Summary” form, PTOL-413B, that the examiner will provide a written summary.  See MPEP 713.04 for further details.

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Can an examiner and applicant use internet electronic mail to communicate?

Internet e-mail shall NOT be used to conduct communications similar to those exchanged during telephone or in-person interviews unless a written authorization from the applicants or an attorney/agent of record has been given to use Internet e-mail.  See MPEP 502.03.  In such cases, a paper copy of the Internet e-mail contents MUST be made and placed in the patent application file as required by the Federal Records Act in the same manner as an Examiner Interview Summary Form is entered.  See MPEP 713.01 I.

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What is a video conference interview?

A video conference interview is a meeting with an examiner using a USPTO supplied web-based collaboration tool, such as WebEx, that permits participants to interact in real-time from anywhere using video and document sharing.

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Can I request a video conference interview?

Yes. When an applicant requests a video conference with an examiner, the request will normally be granted. When applicants request an in-person interview but there is not an opportunity for both parties to be on the same USPTO campus at a mutually agreed upon time, a video conference should be offered and held when appropriate.

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Where can I hold a video conference interview?

Applicant may participate in a video conference in their own office, or, when on a USPTO campus, from a public interview room.  See MPEP 713.01 II

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Do I need to download special software to hold a video conference interview?

The USPTO currently uses WebEx as its video conferencing tool. WebEx is a web-based service, so you can use it from any computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, or Solaris).  No software needs to be downloaded to participate in an online WebEx meeting.  A high-speed Internet connection is recommended.  To get started, open the email containing the WebEx online meeting invitation and click on the link to join the visual component of the online meeting. A telephone will be used to join the audio component of the meeting while a video camera may be used as part of the visual component.

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Is authorization from the applicant needed to conduct a video conference?

Yes, communications via the Internet, such as e-mail or video conference, are at the discretion of the applicant. Written authorization from the applicant must be obtained prior to setting up a video conference.

The following is a sample authorization form which may be used by applicant and placed in the file-wrapper:

“Recognizing that Internet communications are not secure, I hereby authorize the USPTO to communicate with me concerning any subject matter of this application by electronic mail. I understand that a copy of these communications will be made of record in the application file.”

Please see MPEP502.03 for further guidance on written authorization.

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Can I invite or “host” a video conference with an examiner?

No, all interviews held via video conference are to be originated or "hosted" by the USPTO.  Thus the WebEx invitation must be sent by the examiner and not the applicant.

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How do I find out more information about WebEx?

To find out more information about WebEx, including collaboration tips, please visit the following link:

http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/web_conferencing.jsp

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What is a public interview room?

A public interview room is a room on USPTO campus designated for the applicant to participate in video conferences.

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Where is the public interview room located on USPTO campus?

The Alexandria public interview room is located on the 1st floor of the Jefferson building (1D51).  The Detroit Public interview room is located on the 2nd floor of the Elijah J. McCoy USPTO Satellite Office.

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How do I reserve a public interview room?

A public interview room must be reserved by the examiner. 

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Last Modified: 11/20/2013 2:53:50 PM