Patent and Trademark Office Revises Rules of Practice

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is revising the rules of practice in patent cases relating to continuing applications and requests for continued examination practices, and for the examination of claims in patent applications.

The rules of practice will soon require any 3rd or subsequent continuing application that is a continuation application or a continuation-in-part application, and any 2nd or subsequent request for continued examination in an application family, be filed to obtain consideration of an amendment, argument, or evidence, and be supported by a showing as to why the amendment, argument, or evidence sought to be entered could not have been previously submitted.

The office is also requiring that an applicant must provide an examination support document that covers all of the claims in an application if the application contains more than five independent claims or more than 25 total claims. Finally, the office is revising the rules of practice with respect to multiple applications that have the same claimed filing or priority date, substantial overlapping disclosure, a common inventor, and common ownership.

The changes reportedly will allow the office to examine patents more thoroughly and with more efficiency. The changes will take effect on Nov. 1, 2007.

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