what they are - how they work
Purpose: To determine
questions of priority of invention, and possibly questions of patentability,
between a pending patent application and one or more unexpired patents and/or
applications claiming the same subject matter.
Occurrence: Quite rare.
Fewer than 1% of applications. Will eventually become extinct if U.S.
converts to "first to file" system.
Tribunal: Prepared at
examiner level of USPTO. Conducted ultimately before the Board of Patent
Appeals and Interferences.
Count: A count defines
the interfering subject matter. If more than one count, each must define a
separate patentable invention. Application or patent claims are designated
as corresponding either exactly or substantially to a count. A count
broader than all claims corresponding to it is a phantom count.
At least one involved pending
Claiming the same subject matter,
Against patent, claim presented
prior to one year from issue date.
Against published application, claim
presented prior to one year from publication date.
Claim allowable to applicant and not
defective (indefinite, ambiguous etc.).
Patent not prior art against
application under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)/103.
By applicant (a) suggesting a count
and presenting/identifying at least one claim corresponding to the count, (b)
identifying the other pending application and (c) explaining why an interference
should be declared.
If by applicant against issued
patent, further showings required of applicant.
By examiner suggesting an applicant
present a claim drawn to the invention for purposes of interference.
Applicant's failure to then timely present such claim is a concession that its
subject matter is the prior invention of another and thus prior art against
Senior Party: A senior
party is the one with the earliest effective filing date as to all
counts. If no party meets this condition, then the one with the earliest
filing date is senior party. All others are junior parties.
Priority of Invention:
Tricky at best issue. Non-intuitive. Not for amateurs.
expensive, time-consuming, sometimes necessary.
other topics -
meaningful patent protection,
contact the firm
(all contact modes)
or call 312.419-8055
Initial consultations start at $240.
firmís charges for initial interference-potential evaluations start at $1,600.
Further cost estimates available after initial evaluation.