Patent interference practice is an arcane and highly specialized area of patent law that is unique to the United States. A patent interference is an administrative proceeding conducted before the United States Patent and Trademark Office Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences to determine priority of invention where different parties (applicants or an applicant and a patentee) claim substantially the same invention. The proceeding is governed by statute (35 U.S.C. § 135), by administrative rules (37 CFR 1.601 et seq.), by non-administrative rules (the Board’s Standing Order) and by published decisions of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.
An interference has two phases, a motions phase and a priority phase, each of which can last approximately one year and can require the presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. Each interference involves complex strategic and tactical decisions, which can have a profound effect on both pending patent applications and issued patents, in diverse areas such as count formation, claim correspondence, motion practice, discovery, testimony, and settlement procedures. A party’s decision during the motions phase can adversely impact the priority phase of the interference and could result in the loss of the interference and substantial patent rights.
Our services in interferences can range over a wide spectrum varying from serving as a consultant to corporate counsel or law firms to serving as lead counsel or backup counsel. Our interference clients include Fortune 500 corporations and major law firms. Just as each interference is unique, each client has different needs and preferences. We will work with each client to define an arrangement that is best suited to meet your needs and preferences to obtain the best possible results.