The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on November 24, 2014, announced the creation of a special examination unit dedicated to examining applications filed by pro se applicants through the Pro Se Pilot Examination Unit.
"Comprised of experienced examiners from all scientific disciplines, these examiners receive training surrounding issues often encountered by pro se applicants, such as how to respond to a Notice of Missing Parts or how to revive an unintentionally abandoned application," the notice stated. "In addition, the examiners provide customer support and answer general patent related questions via a toll-free number, email, or a walk-in service. Lastly, they spearhead development of specialized training materials on the intricacies of filing a patent application."
While the USPTO always recommends using a registered attorney or agent to assist in preparing and prosecuting a patent application, the USPTO also recognizes that the cost of such assistance is prohibitive for many applicants, particularly independent inventors. In light of that, the USPTO has launched the Pro Se Assistance Program to expand outreach to inventors who file patent applications without the assistance of a registered patent attorney or agent (known as "pro se" filing).
The Pro Se Assistance Program, which began in October 2014, is the USPTO's response to President Obama's Executive Action calling for more assistance to pro se and pro bono applicants. According to the announcement, the Pro Se Pilot Examination Unit will run for at least one year.
To learn more about the Pro Se Assistance Program, visit the website.