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Informal Interviews

Posted Monday, July 6, 2009 by Jim Ruttler

Patent examination is typically carried out entirely in writing. While this is the textbook method of examination, I’ve found a bit more success with reducing the time and expense of examination by calling the examining attorney directly to supplement a written response.

Patent examiners are typically very responsive to phone calls. Often, they will surprisingly pick up the phone when called or, at a minimum, return calls within one or two business days. Accordingly, I typically get on the phone early in examination to introduce myself to examiners and get a feel for how reasonable they will be to work with and call the examiner after a written response has been filed. While some examiners are reluctant to speak without a formal interview request or have poor communication skills, many examiners are comfortable talking about the claims and the references and any possible amendments that could be made for allowance during such calls. Furthermore, once a relationship is established, I’ve found that examiners will go out of their way to get in touch and to communicate their thoughts and any rejections that they feel are required.

Thus, direct oral communication with examiners is a tool that can be used to supplement the written format of examination and should be attempted because of its potential for decreasing the time and expense of examination and focusing on the subject matter that the examiner feels is allowable.

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