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About STEPP

STEPP, 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. STEPP courses are in-person training led by USPTO trainers and based on material developed for training new patent examiners.  We provide two different STEPP course types:

  1. Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course
  2. Inventor 3-Day Course

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 be applied for in the state from which the course is delivered.  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 patent examiners or to circumvent normal communications between applicants or applicants' representatives and patent examiners. 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 formIs 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.

FY 2019 In-Person Training

Title

Dates

Audience

Location

Registration

CLE Credit Available?

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

November 6-8, 2018

*Agents and Attorneys

Chicago, IL – Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology

August 27 - September 23, 2018

Applying –  Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

January 15-17, 2019

*Agents and Attorneys

Dallas, TX – Texas Regional Office

November 5 – December 2, 2018

Applying - Texas

Inventor 3-Day Course

February 5-7, 2019

**Inventors

Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters

October 22 - November 25, 2018

No

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

March 5-7, 2019

*Agents and Attorneys

Denver, CO – Rocky Mountain Regional Office

December 17, 2018 – January 13, 2019

Applying - Colorado

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

May 7-9, 2019

*Agents and Attorneys

Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters

February 11 - March 10, 2019

Applying - Virginia

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

July 9-11, 2019

*Agents and Attorneys

San Jose, CA – Silicon Valley Regional Office

April 22-May 19, 2019

Applying - California

Inventor 3-Day Course

August 13-15, 2019

**Inventors

Alexandria, VA - USPTO Headquarters

May 6 – June 9, 2019

No

Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course

September 10-12, 2019

*Agents and Attorneys

New York, NY – Location TBD

June 24 -  July 21, 2019

Applying – New York

*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

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 makes 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 takes 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.

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 takes 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.

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).

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).

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).

All other operating statuses (e.g., open with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework)
In-person 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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Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT)

Are you or your client interested in attending an online course of an examination topic?  Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT) is designed to allow our stakeholders to be briefed on a variety of focused topics related to examination practice and procedure derived from recent training delivered to experienced USPTO examiners. The primary purpose of vILT is to provide a vehicle by which recently delivered examination training is shared with the external stakeholders. The interactive online format of vILT allows participants to remotely attend the training without the need to travel to USPTO locations.

To learn more, visit the Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT) Program page.

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