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The Law Office of Joan I. Norek

        Intellectual Property

            Chicago, Illinois

                                                    w w w . n o r e k l a w . c o m




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Patent Interferences

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.

Initial Requirements: 

  • At least one involved pending application.

  • Claiming the same subject matter, not merely describing it.

  • 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.

How Provoked:

  • 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 applicant.

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.

Interferences -- expensive, time-consuming, sometimes necessary.

other topics - meaningful patent protection, patent infringement opinion, patent reexamination, patent validity


questions, inquiries - contact the firm (all contact modes) or call 312.419-8055

Initial consultations start at $240.
The firmís charges for initial interference-potential evaluations start at $1,600.
Further cost estimates available after initial evaluation. 
Retainer required.




The Law Office of Joan I. Norek
25 E. Washington Street, Suite 1400
Chicago, Illinois  60602
Tel.  312.419.8055   Fax 312.236.6686
Contact the Firm


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All rights reserved.
noreklaw, noreklaw.com and PatentAttitude are trademarks and service marks of Joan I. Norek, Chicago, Illinois.

Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website provides information and resources but is neither legal advice nor a substitute for the legal advice of an IP attorney.  Retentions are subject to the discretion of the firm.
This website was designed and constructed by Joan I. Norek.