First Action Interview Pilot Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a pilot program in which the applicant who complies with certain requirements will receive the results of a prior art search conducted by the examiner, via a condensed Pre-Interview Communication, and then be permitted to conduct an interview with the examiner to discuss the cited prior art references prior to the first Office action on the merits. An interview under this pilot program would advance prosecution of the application because it would enhance the interactions between the applicant and the examiner, provide applicant the opportunity to resolve patentability issues one-on-one with the examiner at the beginning of the prosecution process, and facilitate possible early allowance. Currently, granting an interview before first action on the merits of a new application is within the discretion of the examiner, who has not yet searched the case, and a showing may be required to justify the granting of the interview. See MPEP § 713.02. The pilot program provides a procedure which, if followed, makes the granting of an interview non-discretionary.
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