As part of January 15, 2021, the USPTO will discontinue the First Action Interview Pilot Program that’s been in place for the past twelve years. The program allows practitioners to conduct an interview with the examiner prior to the first office action. This interview is held after the examiner’s preliminary prior art search and allows the practitioner to submit amendments prior to the first action response to the prior art and discussion.
As the USPTO explains;
Under the Full First Action Interview Pilot Program, an applicant is entitled to a first action interview, upon request, prior to the first Office action on the merits. The examiner will conduct a prior art search and provide applicant with a condensed pre-interview communication citing relevant prior art and identifying proposed rejections or objections. Within 30 days of receipt, applicant schedules an interview and submits proposed amendments and/or arguments. At the interview, the relevant prior art, proposed rejections, amendments and arguments will be discussed. If agreement is not reached, the applicant will receive a first action interview Office action that includes an interview summary that constitutes a first Office action on the merits under 35 USC 132.
In their announcement, the USPTO cited the low (0.2%) usage rate as the primary reason for the termination. This low usage stands in stark contrast to the rising rate of interview usage overall, with the peak coming this past October at 38.1%.
This increased interview use is with good cause, as Maier & Maier’s practitioners have had significant success using interviews to get favorable outcomes for our clients. The firm’s office is located just blocks away from the USPTO Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, providing easy access to in-person interviews.
If you have any questions about interviews or would like to take advantage of this program before it ends on January 15, 2021, please contact us here.