If the patent examiner discovers that another pending application involves the same invention, and that both inventions appear to qualify for a patent, the patent examiner will declare that a conflict (called an interference) exists between the two applications. In that event, a hearing is held to determine who is entitled to the patent. Affidavits or declarations are submitted and often live testimony is taken.
Who may be awarded the patent depends on such variables as who first conceived of the invention and worked on it diligently, who first actually built and tested the invention and who filed the first provisional or regular patent application.
Related terms: constructive reduction to practice; diligence in reducing to practice; Disclosure Document Program (DDP); filing date; infringement search; interference, defined; interference proceeding; junior party in interference proceedings; patent notebook; reduction to practice; reexamination of patent; swearing behind a prior art reference.