A request for an interview prior to the first Office action is ordinarily granted in continuing or substitute applications. In all other applications, an interview before the first Office action is encouraged where the examiner determines that such an interview would advance prosecution of the application. Thus, the examiner may require that an applicant requesting an interview before the first Office action provide a paper that includes a general statement of the state of the art at the time of the invention, and an identification of no more than three (3) references believed to be the “closest” prior art and an explanation as to how the broadest claim distinguishes over such references. See 37 CFR 1.133(a). Applicants seeking prioritized examination should be prepared to participate in an interview with the examiner. See MPEP § 708.02(b). Similarly the Office announced a pilot program in which an interview is conducted before a first action on the merits. Information on this pilot program is available from: www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/faipp_full.jsp.
I. SEARCHING IN GROUP
Seeking search help in the Technology Center art unit should be permitted only with the consent of a primary examiner.
II. EXPOUNDING PATENT LAW
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cannot act as an expounder of the patent law, nor as a counselor for individuals.