Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) – United States Patent and Trademark Office

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Training for the public based on courses available to USPTO employees. 
 

If you are a patent attorney, agent, or inventor, it helps to think like a patent examiner. Get a better understanding of how examiners make decisions at our Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP). Whether in-person, or online, these courses are led by USPTO trainers and based on material used by USPTO employees. These courses are free, and continuing legal education (CLE) credit may be available.
STEPP provides attorneys, agents, and inventors with a better understanding of how, and why, an examiner makes decisions while reviewing patent applications. STEPP courses are led by USPTO trainers and based on material developed for training new patent examiners. We offer three different STEPP course types:
See the full course schedule below for topics, dates, places, times, intended audience, and CLE credit information.
Courses are free.
CLE credit may be available for an Agent/Attorney Course; however, CLE accreditation will generally only be available for the state in which the course runs. Please review the available course schedule below for CLE availability for each course. 
The STEPP program is an important part of the USPTO’s mission to deliver intellectual property information and education to external stakeholders. It is administered by the Office of Patent Training (OPT).
The STEPP program is not intended for applicants to discuss pending applications with patent examiners or to circumvent normal communications between applicants or their representatives and patent examiners. Applicants should continue to resolve any application-specific issues through the examiner of record or the Ombudsman program, as appropriate.
For more information:  
Contact STEPP@uspto.gov by email or view our STEPP Flyer.

For additional information on a course listed please read the course description below. If interested, please complete and submit the  Sign-up Now form.
Note:  All courses, times, and dates are subject to change and may be canceled at any time prior to registration opening.
 
FY 2023 Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP)
Title
Dates
Audience
Location
Registration
CLE Credit Available?***
Agent/Attorney 4-Day Course
February 07-10, 2023
Agents and Attorneys*
Virtual environment.
Open
Applying – Virginia
*Agents and Attorneys – Those registered to practice law in patent matters before the USPTO
**Inventors – Those not registered to practice law in patent matters before the USPTO
*** CLE – Continuing legal education
While our in-person course materials are workshop-specific and designed for in-class use, they are derived from public material used to train USPTO patent examiners and are available on our Examiner Training Materials page or the Examination Guidance and Training Materials page. Here are specific courses we are currently offering:
Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course on Examination Practice and Procedure
This course is limited to registered patent attorneys and agents for the purpose of representing applicants before the USPTO. The training makes use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO.
The training is broken into three separate modules that build on each other: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. Day 1 focuses on the role of an examiner and the steps an examiner takes when reading an application for the first time. Claim interpretation and 35 U.S.C. 101 and 112 are emphasized on Day 1. Day 2 uses the information gathered during Day 1 to plan a search, conduct a search, and map prior art to claims using 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. Day 3 focuses on writing of an office action, as well as post-examination options such as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU). Similar to the training of entry level examiners, a sample application will be provided to each trainee and will be the focus of exercises during each module. For a detailed schedule please view the Agent/Attorney 3-Day Course Schedule.  Note, the content and schedule of this course is subject to change.

Agent/Attorney 4-Day Course In the virtual environment (Domestic/ International)
This course is limited to registered patent attorneys and agents for the purpose of representing applicants before the USPTO. The training makes use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO. Prior to attending, those accepted will be required to review several computer based training (CBT) modules and reading of resource materials as pre-activity homework.
The training is broken into four separate modules that build on each other: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Day 1 focuses on the role of an examiner and the steps an examiner takes when reading an application for the first time. Day 2 uses the information gathered during Day 1 to plan a search, conduct a search. 35 U.S.C. 101 and 112 are emphasized on Day 2. Day 3 uses the information gathered during Day 2 to map prior art to claims using 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. Day 4 finishes the mapping art to claim discussion and focuses on writing of an examiner’s office action. Similar to the training of entry level examiners, a sample application will be provided to each trainee and will be the focus of exercises during each module. For an exemplary detailed schedule, please view the Agent/Attorney 4-Day Course General Schedule.  Please note the times reflected on this schedule may not be the actual times for each course offered.
Inventor 3-Day Course In-person
This course is administered by the USPTO’s Office of Patent Training (OPT) and is intended for current and future inventors. It is limited to those who cannot represent applicants before the USPTO. Prior to attending, those accepted will be required to review several computer based training (CBT) modules.
Day 1 of training begins with a discussion of the patent application process and the role OID plays in helping independent inventors throughout patent prosecution. The end of Day 1 uses exercises to cement/reaffirm your knowledge of CBT modules. Day 2 focuses how a patent examiner reads an application for the first time and maps prior art to claims. You will use the previous day’s lesson to work through an application. Day 3 starts with a discussion of examiner office actions and applicant responses to the sample application. The second half of Day 3 begins with a workshop on USPTO restriction practice and concludes with a discussion of additional resources available to inventors. For a detailed schedule please view the Inventor 3-Day Course Schedule.  Note, the content and schedule of this course is subject to change.
Course enrollment for interested STEPP participants
Entry into the STEPP program is granted based on available resources, slots available and intended target audience for each course.
Are there other examination practice and procedure topics you’d like to receive training in?  Does the current STEPP meet your needs? Please fill out our needs assessment survey so that we can help you in the future.
 Looking for additional information on examination practice and procedure? Publicly available material used to train USPTO patent examiners is available on our Examiner Training Materials page and the Examination Guidance and Training Materials page

You may also be interested in these resources:
Stakeholder Offerings and Resources (SOaR)

The SOaR program offers:
For more information on the SOaR program, please contact SOaR@uspto.gov.
 
USPTO events offering CLE credits

The USPTO regularly organizes or participates in continuing legal education (CLE) credit offerings across the country and covering a variety of topics.  To learn more, visit the USPTO CLE events page.

Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP)

Are you or your client interested in providing technical training to patent examiners? The Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP) offers technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia an opportunity to voluntarily provide technical training and expertise to patent examiners in-person or virtually from their own location. 

In-person presentations can be made at our Alexandria, Virginia, headquarters or at one of our USPTO regional offices in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and San Jose.
To learn more, visit the PETTP page.
 
Site Experience Education (SEE) Program
Are you or your client interested in hosting patent examiners at your office or facility? The Site Experience Education (SEE) program provides commercial, industrial, and academic institutions within the continental U.S. the opportunity to voluntarily host patent examiner technical site visits. The USPTO funds all SEE travel costs for patent examiner visits to host organizations. 
To learn more, visit the SEE Program page.
 
Weather-related emergencies and unexpected closings:
In the event of a weather-related emergency or other unexpected closing, STEPP follows the operating status of the USPTO office where training is being held, and guidance of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance. If the training is being held at a non-USPTO office location, STEPP follows the operating status of the non-USPTO office location where training is being held. As a result, STEPP training for a particular day may have a delayed start or be canceled due to inclement weather. The USPTO is not responsible for any costs you may incur due to cancelations or delays. Furthermore, no makeup session will be scheduled.  
Office closed
In-person courses will not run on a day the office is closed (but if, for example, the office is closed only on Tuesday, the training will take place as scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday).
Office open with delayed arrival
In-person courses will begin the number of hours indicated after the scheduled start time (e.g., if there is a 1-hour delay, a course scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. will begin at 9:30 a.m.).
Early dismissal
In-person courses will be dismissed the number of hours indicated before the scheduled end time (e.g., if there is a 2-hour early dismissal, a course scheduled to end at 5 p.m. will dismiss at 3 p.m.).
All other operating statuses (e.g., open with option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework)
In-person courses will run as scheduled.
For information on the current operating status of the USPTO office where your course is being held, please see the following:
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