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About STEPP

Pillar 3
The Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) program is administered by the Office of Patent Training (OPT) under the third pillar (Pillar 3, Excellence in Customer Service), of the  Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) and is a new and important part of the USPTO’s mission to deliver intellectual property information and education to external stakeholders.

Training delivered through STEPP is designed to provide external stakeholders with a better understanding of how and why an examiner makes decisions while examining a patent application. In person courses are led by USPTO trainers and based on material developed for training employees of the USPTO.  

Currently courses provided through STEPP are free to attend.  In addition, the USPTO is in the process of determining the applicability of providing CLE credits for attending STEPP courses.  Additional CLE information will be provided to you if you are selected to participate in a class.

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 flyer: STEPP Flyer

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Course Schedule

Provided below is the current course schedule for courses within the STEPP program.  Additional courses will be added to the list below as they become available.  For additional information on a course listed please read the description of the course.  If interested, please complete and submit the Sign Up Now form below.  Do not see training on examination practice and procedure that meets your needs?  Please complete the needs assessment survey below so that we can better try to accommodate you in the future.
 

Description

Date(s)

Duration

Location

3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure
*Virginia CLE credit available
July 11-13, 2017 3 Days Alexandria, VA Campus
3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure September 19-21, 2017 3 Days Detroit, MI – Midwest Regional Office
Registration Closed
Inventor 3-Day Course June 20-22, 2017 3 Days Alexandria, VA Campus
3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure May 9-11, 2017 3 Days Denver, CO – Rocky Mountain Regional Office
3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure March 14-16, 2017 3 Days San Jose, CA – Sillicon Valley Regional Office
3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure January 10-12, 2017 3 Days Dallas, TX – Texas Regional Office
3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure November 15-17, 2016 3 Days Alexandria, VA Campus
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Course Description(s)

3-Day Training on Examination Practice and Procedure


This training is intended for those who have recently 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, including a discussion of restriction practices, 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.  For a detailed scheduled please view the 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.  The course is not intended for those interested in representing applicants before the USPTO.  Prior to attending the course, 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.

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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.

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Sign Up Now

Sign Up Now.  If you are interested in being notified when registration opens for a particular course please email 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

STEPP program material is derived from training material used to train USPTO patent examiners.  This material is available to the public and can be found here.  STEPP course materials are workshop specific and are designed for in class use only.  As a result these materials are not currently available online.

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)

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

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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