In a recent “Director’s Blog” post to USPTO employees, David Kappos outlined the benefits of personal interviews to expedite the prosecution of patent and trademark applications. Reproduced below is the post:
The practice of conducting interviews with patent and trademark applicants has been around a long time. At times interviews are clearly productive. At other times, it can feel like interviews are not so beneficial. Like anything else, an interview with an applicant is what the interviewing parties make of it.
Although trademark applicants rarely request in-person interviews, telephone discussions between applicants and examining attorneys are an integral part of the examination process. These discussions serve to clarify issues and help greatly to expedite the prosecution of trademark applications.
With respect to patents, the statistics show that an interview can help the examiner and the applicant get to the heart of the patentability determination quickly and efficiently.
Interview data from FY 2008 shows that the allowance rate after a first office action on the merits (FAOM) is more than doubled when an interview is held between the examiner and the practitioner. Similar gains are apparent from the First Action Interview Pilot program, which typically includes an interview prior to the FAOM.
It’s no surprise to me that this is the case. When people talk to one another and listen to one another they can quickly understand points of agreement as well as differences, and resolve those differences in real-time. And those eye-popping statistics should make interviews very attractive to applicants, since fast resolution of issues saves them time and money.
It has been noted that Examiner-initiated interviews have appeared to increase recently, even before Mr. Kappos took over as Director of the PTO. These interviews have been particularly useful in resolving Bilski-related patentable subject matter issues, often after a short discussion that resulted in minor amendments to the claim language.