Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Tuesday Jun 28, 2011

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.


How useful and applicable are these procedures in expediting of the Ex Parte reexamination proceedings of patents in the PTO?

Posted by Syed on June 30, 2011 at 12:13 AM EDT #

Online web conferences could be used to significantly raise this interview percentage. Most attorneys would welcome an examiner invite to a web conference prior to first action, particularly if the examiner were to indicate possible patentable subject matter in the invite (without necessarily indicating pre-interview what that subject matter was, and certainly without mandating any such indication, as understandably mandates tend to make everyone involved reluctant). I know I would not turn down any such invite, as turning down such an invite would surely not be in the client's best interest, and not in the best interest of relations with the inviting examiner. I think my colleagues would feel similarly.

Posted by Bruce Burdick on June 30, 2011 at 04:10 PM EDT #

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