During patent prosecution, a patent applicant can request an interview with the examiner to discuss the pending application. The USPTO thinks that these interviews may improve the quality of patents. The USPTO has always believed that well-documented interviews can help foster high quality patents by enhancing understanding and issue-resolution. However, it now has the data to support these claims.
The USPTO recently analyzed data on patent quality in applications where interviews were held as well as where interviews were not held. The study included data from over 22,000 applications from the past five years.
The findings revealed that interviews conducted prior to final disposition (allowance or final rejection) of the application increase the probability that the subsequent action will be in full compliance with all applicable quality standards. In addition, the data showed that interviews help decrease both improper allowances and improper rejections by approximately 40 percent compared to applications without interviews prior to the final disposition.
As a representative of the USPTO states, “The correlation is not surprising, but its degree certainly is impressive. A 40 percent improvement is almost always worth investing in. And while other factors may contribute to the correlation, it is substantial in any event.” Based on the findings, the USPTO encourages both examiners and applicants to consider the use of interviews.