“Washington— The Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that it is expanding its First Action Interview Pilot Program in which an applicant is entitled to an interview with the patent examiner prior to the first office action on the merits in a new utility application. The program will expand to additional technology areas for a six-month period beginning on October 1, 2009. . . .
. . . [The] patent process benefits when interaction between the applicant and the examiner are enhanced at the beginning of examination because patentability issues can be resolved early when the applicant and the examiner discuss them one-on-one. For the applications involved in the initial pilot, the First-Action Allowance rate increased six-fold when compared to applications from the same technology area not involved in the pilot. . . .
Currently, an applicant may request an interview prior to a first action. Granting of an interview is within the discretion of the examiner who has not yet reviewed the case, and the applicant may be required to identify relevant documents and explain how the invention is patentable over these documents.
Under the expanded pilot program, the examiner will conduct a prior art search and provide the applicant a pre-interview communication, which is a condensed preview of objections or rejections proposed against the claims. Within 30 days from the issue date of the pre-interview communication, the applicant must either choose not to have a first action interview with the examiner, or schedule the interview and file a proposed amendment or remarks (arguments).”