The PTO has begun holding on-line chats for inventors. Here are some interesting responses. The full transcript is available here.
Q: If I want to meet with my patent examiner, what is the procedure?
USPTO Expert: If you are represented by a patent agent or attorney, they can contact the examiner, and set up an interview generally limited to 1/2 hour in length. Your attorney or agent must attend and you may be present during the interview. However, if you are not represented by a patent agent/attorney (a pro-se applicant) you may directly contact the examiner via contact information provided to you at the end of each correspondence from the Office. For more information, you can browse MPEP 713 – 713.10. The MPEP is available on-line through our website.
Q: What is the current USPTO position on software / business method patents?
USPTO Expert: Please see the following link for more information on business methods, http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/pbmethod/. Software/business methods claims are patentable if they meet the requisite criteria for patenting as set forth in the patent statutes.
Q: What’s the estimated time that will take for a patent on a product to be approved once I file for a patent at the USPTO?
USPTO Expert: The length of time will depend on the specific technology, it generally takes about 18 months to receive a first written opinion. Some technologies are experiencing backlogs and therefore it may take longer. On average, it takes about 27 months for a patent to issue after its filing.
Q: How long is the waiting period for a fairly simple patent pending application for a design patent?
USPTO Expert: With our current back log in designs, the average waiting time is eleven or twelve months to first Office action.