The U.S. Patent and Trademark recently announced that it is extending its First Action Interview (FAI) Pilot Program. Under the program, participants are permitted to conduct an interview with the examiner after reviewing a Pre-Interview Communication providing the results of a prior art search conducted by the examiner.
However, those hoping to take advantage of the program are advised to act quickly; the pilot has only been extended to August 16, 2012 (although future extensions are possible.) The USPTO has indicated that it is currently completing a comprehensive review of the program, deciding what, if any, adjustments should be made to the program, and whether the program should be extended further or made permanent.
The FAI Pilot Program has been very popular since it was first expanded in 2011. The USPTO has reportedly received over 2,100 requests to participate. Of the applications that have been taken up for examination since the expansion, the Office has allowed over 35% on first action.
According to the USPTO, participants in the program have experienced several benefits including:
- Effectively advancing prosecution of an application before issuance of an Office action;
- Enhanced interaction between the applicant and the examiner before issuance of an Office action;
- Resolving patentability issues one-on-one with the examiner at the beginning of the prosecution process, rather than after a first Office action; and
- Expedited allowance of an application, relative to standard examination, due to the program’s enhanced communication and shorter time periods for response.