The Word From The USPTO Trenches.
Conducting interviews with Patent Examiners is quite a large part of my practice . In my opinion, interviewing is an extremely effective tool that applicants can use to further prosecution of their patent applications. Interviews can also lead more quickly to patent application allowance, and a subsequent issuance of a patent.
I often conduct interviews by teleconference. However, personal interviews can sometimes be more effective, particularly when there is an exhibit available that shows the invention. Thus, I make a number of visits every year to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA. During one such visit this week, I made a few observations that I’d like to share with our readers.
- Examiner morale appears to be improving! I had an Examiner tell me a few years ago that “no one smiles here anymore”. This seems to be changing, in large part to the efforts of the Kappos administration such as the new count system.
- There appears to be an internal push underway, and not necessarily driven by the administration, to have newer Examiners (who only know the ways the USPTO operated under Dudas) make decisions and work with applicants in a way that finds patentable subject matter sooner rather than later. Some of the more experienced Examiners I spoke with had alluded to the fact that they were working with junior Examiners to adjust their examination practices accordingly.
- The culture of “reject, reject, reject” appears to be going away as well. I say this not based on the results of the interviews I conducted (which went well, by the way), but based upon comments from multiple Examiners with whom I spoke. One Examiner indicated that he believes there will be a rise in allowance rates this year, after the sharp declines that were observed during the earlier Dudas administration.
Happy Examiners = Better Examination = More Allowances? Let’s hope so.
Any comments from our readers on this topic, and especially our Examiner readership, are most welcomed.