Patent Examination Interview Service frequently asked questions

From: Canadian Intellectual Property Office

What is the Patent Examination Interview Service?

The Patent Examination Interview Service relates to the use of examiner-initiated phone interviews as well as applicant-initiated interviews as a means of advancing prosecution. While the examiner-initiated interview process has been the focus of a recently conducted Patent Examination Interview pilot, CIPO plans to include applicant-initiated interviews as part of the Interview Service.

Examiner-initiated interviews: examiners are encouraged to contact the authorized correspondent by phone when it has been determined that the interview could advance prosecution. The most common reason for this phone call would be if the examiner has identified only a few minor defects remaining in an application and would like to give the applicant the opportunity to submit a voluntary amendment to overcome those defects.

Applicant-initiated interviews: authorized correspondents may call an examiner in order to discuss aspects of an application and/or to obtain clarification regarding an examiner's report.

What is the benefit of the Patent Examination Interview Service?

Examiner-initiated interviews offer the opportunity to advance prosecution by allowing the authorized correspondent to submit a voluntary amendment to deal with identified defects instead of waiting to receive an examiner's report. Most interviews are initiated when there are only a few minor defects remaining in the application, as these situations are often easily and quickly resolved. As well, the interview gives the examiner and authorized correspondent an opportunity to discuss the identified defect(s) and may provide both parties with a better understanding of the subject-matter under discussion.

What can I do to help facilitate the Patent Examination Interview Service?

The authorized correspondent should return any phone calls from the examiner in a timely fashion.

If the authorized correspondent decides to submit a voluntary amendment, they should inform the examiner of this intention, if this has not already been communicated to the examiner.

The authorized correspondent should submit the voluntary amendment by the deadline.

What is the deadline for the voluntary amendment in response to an examiner-initiated interview?

The deadline for the voluntary amendment is generally 15 business days (3 weeks) from the date of the examiner-initiated interview.

What happens if the voluntary amendment is late?

If the voluntary amendment is not received by the deadline provided by the examiner, the examiner will issue an office action outlining the defects discussed. If the authorized correspondent knows that the voluntary amendment will be late and will arrive shortly after the deadline given by the examiner, the examiner should be contacted by phone and informed that a voluntary amendment was in fact submitted. This will prevent the examiner from having to withdraw their report if the report and voluntary amendment cross in the mail.

What if an agent needs confer with their client?

If an agent needs to confer with their client, the agent should get back to the examiner with an indication as to whether they will send in a voluntary amendment as soon as possible. If the agent is unable to determine whether the client is willing to submit a voluntary amendment within a reasonable time frame (generally about 1 week), then the agent should request a written office action from the examiner.

What is the Interview Record?

The Interview Record is a document that outlines what was discussed in the interview. It includes the date of the interview, the names of the participants, details of what was discussed, including any identified defects, and the date that the voluntary amendment is due, if the authorized correspondent has indicated that one would be submitted.

Is the Interview Record always created? Who creates it? Will I receive a copy?

The examiner creates the Interview Record if they have either initiated an interview with or have received a phone call from an authorized correspondent.

The Interview Record will be available for download on the Canadian Patent Database. The Interview Record is generally available a few days after the date of the interview.

Interview Records will not be mailed.

Is the Interview Record part of the record?

Yes, the Interview Record will be part the application's record. It will be available on the Canadian Patent Database.

What if the agent or private inventor does not agree with something written in the Interview Record?

The examiner will make every effort to ensure that the Interview Record accurately reflects what was discussed in the interview. In the situation where the authorized correspondent does not agree with something written in the Interview Record, they may include their version of what was discussed in the voluntary amendment or their response to the examiner's report.

Can suggested amendments be emailed or faxed to the examiner?

At this time email or fax may not be used to communicate directly with an examiner during the prosecution of an application.

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