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What is an interference proceeding?

When two different inventors file patent applications seeking a patent on the same invention, there is often a dispute over the issue of patent priority (that is, over who is entitled to get the patent).┬áThis dispute is resolved by an “interference proceeding,” which is a process of review and decision conducted by the United State’s Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and it is similar, in some respects, to a lawsuit.