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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is launching a six-month pilot program starting on April 28 to allow expedited patent examiner review for applicants seeking certain types of computer and data processing-related patents. Under the current USPTO system, an applicant may request an interview before the patent office takes action on an application, but the patent examiner can decline to grant one. In the new First Action Interview Pilot program, the patent examiner conducts a prior art search and gives the applicant a summary of any objections potentially facing the patent claims. The applicant must decide whether to opt for an interview. The pilot program is limited to patent applications in the following areas: electrical computers and digital processing systems; multi-computer data transferring; data processing; and database and file management. Applicants who ask for the interview will discuss patentability issues related to the claims and potentially receive a so-called “notice of allowance,” which means the applicant can pay the fee to have the patent issued. If the applicant and examiner disagree on the patent claims after the interview, the USPTO will give the applicant the longer of one month or 30 days to reply to any agency requirements, objections and rejections. If the applicant decides to forgo the expedited interview, the patent office will send information on requirements, objections and rejections and give the applicant up to 30 days or one month to reply. “As we have learned from our Accelerated Examination program, an interview between the applicant and examiner early in the review process can help resolve issues more quickly and expedite a final decision,” said USPTO director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas.

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