Speedy Patent Prosecution, Part Three: Full First Action Interview Pilot Program

The Full First Action Interview (FAI) Pilot Program allows a participating applicant to request a first action interview with a patent examiner prior to the first office action on the merits. The program is intended to enhance communication between applicants and examiners in order to expedite disposition of applications.

After the applicant enrolls in the program, the examiner will provide the applicant with a summary of relevant prior art and proposed rejections or objections to the claims. The applicant must then schedule an interview and submit proposed amendments and/or arguments. At the interview, the applicant and examiner will discuss the prior art, proposed rejections, potential amendments and arguments.

If the applicant and examiner have reached an agreement at the end of the interview, the applicant can expect an allowance upon the first action. Otherwise, a first office action summarizing the interview will be issued.

Because of the direct discussion of the issues affecting patentability, a significant fraction — by some measures, one-third or more — of all applications in the FAI Pilot Program are allowed on first office action. That is quite a high rate of first action allowances, which are comparatively rare in standard patent prosecution procedures.

The FAI Pilot Program is available for all utility applications in all technology areas with no more than three independent claims and twenty total claims. The application may not contain any claims with multiple dependencies. Applications exceeding the claim limits may be submitted with a preliminary amendment reducing the claims in order to meet program requirements.

There is no fee for the program. Requests to participate must be made via EFS-Web, the USPTO’s online application portal.

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