One of my former and much esteemed colleagues, Ken Adamo of Jones Day, told me of a trip to the USPTO for an examiner interview. According to Ken, the examiner was a true expert of the subject matter, to the extent that when Ken would make an argument about a novel aspect of the invention, the examiner would leave the room for a few minutes only to return with an applicable reference deflating the argument. I can’t remember whether Ken was ultimately successful (knowing him, he probably was), but the point is that this is the type of individual that we all would like to have protecting the free market from impingement by improvidently granted patents.
Having been involved in numerous examiner interviews over the years, I was recently struck by a comment from an inventor about an interview: “I expected to discuss my case with someone like Thomas Jefferson . . . not a recent college graduate, who did not even read my application entirely.” Of course, I made some excuse regarding the enormous time pressure the examiners are under (which is true). The unyielding pressure of 400,000 plus patent applications has made Ken’s examiner at the USPTO extinct.