Recent test takers report question #3 from the October 2003 (a) exam is in the Patent Bar database of tested questions.
3. Inventor Joe is anxious to get a patent with the broadest claim coverage possible for the invention. Joe retained a registered practitioner, Jane, to obtain the advantage of legal counsel in obtaining broad protection. Jane filed a patent application for the invention. The inventor heard that, although patent prosecution is conducted in writing, it is possible to get interviews with examiners. Joe believes an interview might hasten the grant of a patent by providing the examiner a better understanding of the true novelty of the invention. Which of the following are consistent with the patent law, rules and procedures as related by the MPEP regarding usage of interviews?
(A) Prior to the first Office action being mailed the inventor calls the examiner to whom the application is docketed to offer help in understanding the specification.
(B) After receiving the first Office action Jane calls the examiner for an interview for the purpose of clarifying the structure and operation of the invention as claimed and disclosed, because the examiner’s analysis regarding patentability in the rejection is novel and suggests that the examiner is interpreting the claimed invention in a manner very different from the inventor’s intent.
(C) Jane has Larry, a registered practitioner in the Washington D.C. area, who is more familiar with interview practice to call the examiner. Jane gives Larry a copy of the first Office action, which suggests that the primary examiner’s analysis is incorrect, and offers to explain why. Jane instructs Larry that because Larry is unfamiliar with the inventor, Larry should not agree to possible ways in which the claims could be modified, or at least indicate to the examiner that Jane would have to approve of any such agreement.
(D) Jane calls the primary examiner after receiving the final rejection, demanding that the examiner withdraw the finality of the final action. When the examiner states that the final rejection is proper, Jane demands an interview as a matter of right to explain the arguments.
(E) (B) and (D).
3. ANSWER: (B) is the most correct answer. MPEP § 713.01, under the heading “Scheduling And Conducting An Interview,” states “[a]n interview should be had only when the nature of the case is such that the interview could serve to develop and clarify specific issues and lead to a mutual understanding between the examiner and the applicant, and thereby advance the prosecution of the application.” (A) is incorrect. 37 CFR § 1.133(a)(2); MPEP § 713.02. Section 713.02 states that although “[a] request for an interview prior to the first Office action is ordinarily granted in continuing or substitute applications[,] [a] request for an interview in all other applications before the first action is untimely and will not be acknowledged if written, or granted if oral. 37 CFR 1.133(a).” (C) is incorrect. MPEP § 713.03. Larry is only sounding out the examiner and has no authority to commit Joe to any agreement reached with the examiner. (D) is incorrect. MPEP § 713.09. Jane has no right to an interview following the final rejection. Although such an interview may be granted if the examiner is convinced that disposal or clarification for appeal may be accomplished with only nominal further consideration, interviews merely to restate arguments of record or to discuss new limitations which would require more than nominal reconsideration or new search should be denied. (E) is incorrect because (D) is incorrect.