From the PTO:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a pilot program in which, in certain art areas, applicants who comply with the requirements set forth in this notice will receive the results of a prior art search conducted by the examiner, via a condensed Pre-Interview Communication, and then be permitted to conduct an interview with the examiner to discuss the cited prior art references, before the examiner issues an Office action on the merits that sets forth the rejections.Eligibility for the program is broken down according to Groups I and II:
(1) Filed on or before September 1,2005, and prior to a first action on the merits;
(2) Classified in Class 709 (Electrical Computers and Digital Processing Systems: Multi Computer Data Transferring); and
(3) Assigned to an art unit in either working group 2140 (group art unit 214x) or 2150 (group art unit 215x).
(1) Filed on or before November 1,2006, and prior to a first action on the merits;
(2) Classified in Class 707 (Data Processing: Database and File Management Data
(3) Assigned to an art unit in working group 2160 (group art unit 216x).
The pilot program will last until November 1, 2008. Any request for a first action interview filed on or after April 28, 2008, and before November 1, 2008, will be granted if all of the requirements set forth in the Requirements section of this notice are satisfied.For more details on requirements, click here (link)
Additionally, the PTO has published updated patent examiner training materials regarding the examination of patent applications under the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112, first paragraph. These materials have been updated to reflect developments in case law and technology. To view the training materials, click here (link)