United States Patent and Trademark Office OG Notices: 19 July 2005

                      New Interference Search Procedure

   When a search is made to determine what grounds of rejection
may apply to the claims undergoing examination, the examiner also
considers the possibility of interfering claims in the U.S. patent
documents. When an application is in condition for allowance, the
examiner performs an interference search. The interference search
procedure currently set forth in MPEP Sec. 1302.08 and Sec. 2301.01(b)
was developed for paper file wrappers at a time when application
filings were lower. This procedure is no longer practical or workable in
view of the fact that the Office no longer maintains paper application
files and the increase in the number of application filings. The
interference search procedure is being replaced by the new interference
search procedure set forth below.

New Interference Search Procedure

   When an application is in condition for allowance, the examiner
makes an interference search by performing a text search of the U.S.
patent application publication (PGPub) database directed to the
comprehensive inventive features in the broadest claim. If the
application contains a claim directed to nucleotide or peptide
sequence, an interference search of the sequence database will be made.
If the search results identify any potential interfering subject
matter, the examiner will review the application(s) with the potential
interfering subject to determine whether interfering subject matter
exists. If interfering subject matter does exist, the examiner will
follow the guidance set forth in MPEP Chapter 2300. If there is no
interfering subject matter then the examiner should prepare the
application for issuance. A printout of only the database(s) searched,
the query(ies) used in the interference search, and the date the
interference search was performed will be made of record in the
application file. The results of the interference search will not be
placed in the application file. 

   The new interference search procedure will be incorporated in
the upcoming revision of the MPEP. 

   The Office recognizes that for interference purposes, a text
search should encompass the claims of all pending U.S. applications and
recently issued U.S. patents within a certain range of effective filing
dates. However, since the Image File Wrapper (IFW) system does not
provide for a text-searchable database encompassing unpublished pending
applications, examiners currently can only perform a text search of the
PGPub database as set forth above. It is expected that in the future,
there will be a new system that will permit text searches of pending
unpublished applications. Once the new system is fully implemented, the
interference search procedure will be revised accordingly and notice
will be given as to any changes made. 

June 21, 2005                                               JOSEPH J. ROLLA
                                                    Deputy Commissioner for
                                                  Patent Examination Policy