Examiner interviews are typically requested by the applicant after receiving a first Office Action on the merits. The benefit of the First Action Interview (FAI) Pilot Program is that an applicant gets an extra bite at the apple, an opportunity to talk to the examiner and file a written response, before the first Office Action on the merits. Here’s the sequence of the FAI pilot program:
1) An applicant must request a first action interview prior to the first Office Action on the merits, which does not include a pure Restriction Requirement;
2) The examiner conducts a prior art search and either allows application or issues a Pre-Interview Communication citing relevant prior art and identifying proposed rejections or objections;
3) Within 30 days of the Pre-Interview Communication, the applicant schedules an interview and files an Applicant Initiated Interview Request form including any proposed amendments and arguments;
4) The interview is conducted;
5) If an allowance does not result from the interview, the examiner will issue a First Action Interview Office Action with an Interview Summary which will constitute a first Office Action on the merits; and
6) The remaining prosecution of the application would proceed as normal in response to a first Office Action on the merits.
Prior to the first Office Action on the merits, therefore, the applicant receives the benefits of a search, an interview and an opportunity to amend and argue.
The USPTO website has a resource page on the FAI program here.
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