What We Do


We protect our clients by counseling them on the strategy development of an interference from prosecution through resolution. We handle all phases of an interference in-house, including trials in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, trials de novo in the U.S. District Courts or appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We also conduct interference arbitrations when alternative dispute resolution is likely to provide a speedier and cost effective outcome. Due to the number of interference matters we handle, our Interference Practice Group includes attorneys who work almost exclusively on interferences. We are supported by a staff fully versed in the unforgiving procedural requirements of interference practice.

Interference practice is often recognized as an arcane area of patent law that is the universe of specialists. Sughrue has been a leader in interference practice for over 40 years, earning an international reputation for its expertise and commitment. While only a small percentage of patents are the subject of interference proceedings, when they are instituted they are often vital to the business of the parties. In emerging sectors such as biotechnology and electronic technology, interferences often determine basic patent rights that can dominate an industry.

Patent interferences are administrative trials conducted in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to determine priority of invention when different applicants (or an applicant and a patentee) claim substantially similar patentable rights. These proceedings require the presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses and involve an extensive motions practice critical to determining outcomes. The issues raised in an interference include not only priority of invention, but also often extend to the patentability of the parties' claims.