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About STEPP

STEPP training, or Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure, is designed to provide external stakeholders with a better understanding of how, and why, an examiner makes decisions while examining a patent application. Courses are led by USPTO trainers and based on material developed for training USPTO employees.  And new for FY18 we now have two different course formats:

  1. In-person training on patent examination practice and procedure in a workshop setting
  2. Virtual instructor-led training (VILT) to “hop” through one or more topics related to examination practice and procedure

See the full course schedule below for topics, dates, places, times, intended audience, and CLE credit.

Courses provided are free to attend.  In addition, CLE credit may be available for a STEPP course you participate in however CLE accreditation will generally only applied for in the state the course is delivered from.  Please review the available course schedule and descriptions below for additional information.

The STEPP program is an important part of the USPTO’s mission to deliver intellectual property information and education to external stakeholders. It is administered by the Office of Patent Training (OPT).

What is the purpose of the STEPP program? 

  • Increase transparency by making USPTO training on examination practice and procedure available to external stakeholders
  • Provide perspective to external stakeholders by detailing what an examiner considers in preparing an office action
  • Aid in compact prosecution by disclosing to external stakeholders how examiners are taught to use the MPEP to interpret an applicant’s disclosure 

What is NOT the purpose of the STEPP program?  

The STEPP program is not intended for applicants to discuss pending applications with USPTO employees or to circumvent normal communications between applicants or applicants' representatives and USPTO employees. Applicants should continue to resolve any application-specific issues through the examiner of record or the Ombudsman program, as appropriate.

How do I participate in the STEPP program?  

Those interested in participating in STEPP are required to complete the Sign Up Now form located below.

For more information:  

STEPPTraining@uspto.gov by email or
view our STEPP Flyer.

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Course Schedule

For additional information on a course listed please read the course description below.  If interested, please complete  and submit the Sign Up Now form.  Is there another training on examination practice and procedure that may better meet your needs?   Please complete the needs assessment survey so that we can better try to accommodate you in the future.

*Note:  All courses, times, and dates are subject to change and may be cancelled at any time prior to registration opening.


In-Person Training

Title

Dates

Audience

Location

Registration CLE Credit Available?
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course November 14-16, 2017 *Agents and Attorneys Denver, CO – Rocky Mountain Regional Office September 5 - October 1, 2017 Yes - Colorado
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course January 9-11, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys Dallas, TX – Texas Regional Office October 30 - November 26, 2017 Applying in Texas
Inventor 3-Day Course February 6-8, 2018 **Inventors Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters October 30 - December 3, 2017 No
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course March 20-22, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys Detroit, MI – Midwest Regional Office January 8 - February 11, 2018 Applying in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana 
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course May 22-24, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters March 12 - April 8, 2018 Applying in Virginia
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course July 17-19, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys San Jose, CA – Silicon Valley Regional Office May 7 - June 3, 2018 Applying in California
Inventor 3-Day Course August 14-16, 2018 **Inventors Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters April 30 - June 18, 2018 No
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course September 11-13, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters July 2 - July 29, 2018 Applying in Virginia


Hops: Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)
Note: All Hops will begin at 1 p.m. ET on the day of training unless otherwise notified

Title Dates Audience Duration Registration CLE Credit Available?
Claim Interpretation - Preambles February 13, 2018 All 2 Hours January 8 - February 4, 2018 Yes - Virginia
Claim Interpretation - Product By Process April 3, 2018 All 2 Hours March 5 - March 25, 2018 Yes - Virginia
Functional Language Workshop - Claim Interpretation and Definiteness Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) - Computerized Color Editing  April 17, 2018 *Agents and Attorneys 2 Hours March 5 - April 8, 2018 Yes - Virginia
Claim Interpretation - Functional Language including Means Plus Function June 12, 2018 All Hours April 30 - May 28, 2018 Yes - Virginia
Inherency, 35 U.S.C. 102/103 Rejections, and Official Notice August 7, 2018 All 2 Hours July 2 - July 29, 2018 Yes -Virginia

*Agents and Attorneys - Those registered to practice law in patent matters before the USPTO
** Inventors - Those not registered to practice law in patent matters before the USPTO

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Course Descriptions

In Person Courses:


Agent/ Attorney 3-Day Course on Examination Practice and Procedure

This course is limited to those who have passed the Patent Bar for the purpose of representing applicants before the USPTO.  The training will make use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO.

Training focuses on how patent examiners examine patent applications according to the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP).  The training is broken into three separate modules (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3).  Day 1 focuses on the role of an examiner and the steps an examiner would take when reading an application for the first time.  Claim interpretation and 35 USC 101 and 112 are emphasized on Day 1.  Day 2  uses the information gathered during Day 1 to plan a search, conduct a search, and map prior art to claims using 35 USC 102 and 103.  Day 3 focuses on writing of an office action, as well as post-examination options such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU).  Similar to the training of entry level examiners a sample application will be provided to each trainee and will be the focus of exercises during each module which build upon each other.  For a detailed scheduled please view the Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course Schedule.  Please note, the content and schedule of this course is subject to change.

Inventor 3-Day Course

This course is provided through a partnership between the Office of Patent Training (OPT) and the Office of Innovation and Development (OID) and is intended for current and future inventors and limited to those who cannot represent applicants before the USPTO.  Prior to attending, those accepted will be required to review several computer based training (CBT) modules prior to the start of the course.

Day 1 of training begins with a discussion of the patent application process and the role OID plays in helping independent inventors throughout patent prosecution.  The end of Day 1 utilizes exercises to refresh attendee’s knowledge gained from the CBT modules completed prior to training. Day 2 focuses on the role of a patent examiner and the steps an examiner would take when reading an application for the first time and how an examiner is taught to map prior art to claims.  Knowledge gained from the previous day is utilized by working through a sample application.  Day 3 starts with a discussion of examiner office actions and applicant’s response with respect to the sample application.  The second half of Day 3 begins with a workshop on USPTO restriction practice and concludes with a discussion of additional resources available to inventors.  For a detailed schedule please view the Inventor 3-Day Course Schedule.  Please note, the content and schedule of this course is subject to change.
 

VILT Hops:


Claim Interpretation - Preambles

Exemplary view of how an examiner is taught to review and determine whether limitations set forth in the preamble limit the broadest reasonable interpretation of a claim.

Claim Interpretation - Product by Process

Exemplary view of how an examiner is taught to review and apply a broadest reasonable interpretation to claimed product by process limitations 

Functional Language Workshop - Claim Interpretation and Definiteness Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) - Computerized Color Editing

Exercise utilizing a functional language worksheet to determine if the claims of an exemplary computerized color editing system are definite.  Material made public on 9/8/2016 and can be found on the Examination Guidance and Training Materials home page.  This workshop is limited to those who have passed the Patent Bar for the purpose of representing applicants before the USPTO.

*Note: Prerequisite reading is required to effectively participate in this workshop.

Claim Interpretation - Functional Language including Means Plus Function

Exemplary view of how an examiner is taught to review and apply a broadest reasonable interpretation to claimed functional language and means plus function limitations.  

Inherency, 35 U.S.C. 102/103 Rejections, and Official Notice

Training covering the proper use of: inherency and official notice in prior art rejections, 102/103 rejections, admitted prior art, personal knowledge, and additional specialized topics related to 102 and/or 103.   

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Guidance

Operating Procedures for Interested STEPP Participants


Entry into the STEPP program is granted based on available resources, training slots available, and appropriateness of the topics suggested. For granted requests, audience size will vary.

Weather-Related Emergencies and Unexpected Closings:

In the event of a weather-related emergency or other unexpected closing, STEPP follows the operating status of the USPTO office at which the training is being held, as determined by Office of Personnel Management guidance.  As a result, STEPP training for a particular day may have a delayed start or be cancelled due to inclement weather.  The USPTO is not responsible for any cost associated with a weather-related or other cancellation or delay.  Furthermore, no makeup session will be scheduled.  Note:  VILT Hops courses follow the operating status of USPTO headquarters (normal operating hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm ET).

Office Closed:

  • In-person courses will not run on a day the office is closed (but, e.g., if the office is closed only on Tuesday, then training will take place Wednesday and Thursday).
  • VILT Hops courses will be cancelled if USPTO Headquarters is closed.

Office Open with Delayed Arrival:

  • In-person courses will begin the number of hours indicated after the scheduled start time (e.g., if there is a 1-hour delay, a course scheduled to start at 8:30 am will begin at 9:30 am).
  • VILT Hops courses will be cancelled if the delay at USPTO Headquarters extends beyond the scheduled start time (e.g., if there is a 3-hour delay, a course scheduled to start at 11:00 am ET will be cancelled).  Otherwise, VILT Hops courses will run at the scheduled time.

Early Dismissal:

  • In-person courses will be dismissed the number of hours indicated before the scheduled end time (e.g., if there is a 2-hour early dismissal, a course scheduled to end at 5:00 pm will dismiss at 3:00 pm).
  • VILT Hops courses will be cancelled if the early dismissal occurs during the scheduled course time (e.g., if there is a 3-hour early dismissal, a course running at 2:00 pm ET will be cancelled).

All other operating statuses (e.g., open with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework):

  • All courses will run as scheduled.

For information on the current operating status of the office at which your course is being held, please see the following:

  • Alexandria, VA (USPTO Headquarters) and VILT Hops:  visit the OPM current status web page or call 202-606-1900
  • Dallas, TX:  call 469-295-9494
  • Denver, CO:  call 303-297-4646
  • Detroit, MI:  call 313-446-4949
  • San Jose, CA:  call 408-918-7676
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Sign Up Now

Sign up is now closed.  If you are interested in being notified when registration opens for a particular course please email us at STEPPTraining@uspto.gov.

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Survey

What would you like to see?


If the training currently provided through STEPP does not currently meet your needs please fill out the short survey so that we can better help you in the future.   

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Additional Training and Material

Looking for additional information on examination practice and procedure?  Publicly available material used to train USPTO patent examiners is available on our Examiner Training Materials page and the Examination Guidance and Training Materials page.  If you are looking for our in-person course materials, unfortunately they are workshop specific and are designed for in class use only.  As a result these materials are not currently available online.  However, all of our in-person materials are derived from material found through the two hyperlinks directly above.

Interested in taking part in USPTO led training outside of STEPP?  Please visit the USPTO Events page to learn more.

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Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP)

Are you or your client interested in providing technical training to patent examiners?  The Patent Examiner Technical Training Program offers technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia an opportunity to voluntarily provide technical training and expertise to patent examiners in-person or virtually from their own location. 

In-person presentations can be made at our Alexandria, Virginia headquarters or at one of our satellite offices in Detroit, Michigan and Denver, Colorado. 

To learn more, visit the Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP) page.

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Site Experience Education (SEE) Program

Are you or your client interested in hosting patent examiners at your office or facility?  The Site Experience Education program provides commercial, industrial, and academic institutions, within the continental U.S., the opportunity to voluntarily host patent examiner technical site visits.  The USPTO funds all SEE travel costs for patent examiner visits to host organizations. 

To learn more, visit the Site Experience Education (SEE) Program page.

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