The PTO announced that Examiners will now perform interference searches using the electronic PGPub database, instead of using the prior practice of searching through paper application files. The search will be performed when applications are deemed in condition for allowance, and will be text-based. In situations where a particular sequence is claimed, the search will also include the electronic sequence database. While this search will not include unpublished applications, the Office expects that a "new system" will one day allow for them to search unpublished applications as well. Although unstated, it is a logical conclusion that that these broader interference searching procedures will result in more office initiated interferences.
Under the “two-way test” for determining whether subject matter is interfering, an interference exists if the subject matter of a claim of one party would, if prior art, would have anticipated or rendered obvious the subject matter of a claim of the opposing party and vice versa. Thus, the interference requires that each invention obviate the other.
By Christopher Singer & Dennis Crouch.