2190 Prosecution Laches [R-08.2012]
The Federal Circuit affirmed a rejection of claims in a patent application on the ground that applicant had forfeited his right to a patent under the doctrine of prosecution history laches for unreasonable and undue delay in prosecution. In re Bogese, 303 F.3d 1362, 1369, 64 USPQ2d 1448, 1453 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (Applicant “filed twelve continuation applications over an eight-year period and did not substantively advance prosecution when required and given an opportunity to do so by the PTO.”). While there are no firm guidelines for determining when laches is triggered, it applies only in egregious cases of unreasonable and unexplained delay in prosecution. For example, where there are “multiple examples of repetitive filings that demonstrate a pattern of unjustified delayed prosecution,” laches may be triggered. Symbol Tech. Inc. v. Lemelson Med., Educ., & Research Found., 422 F.3d 1378, 1385, 76 USPQ2d 1354, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2005)(Court discussed difference between legitimate reasons for refiling patent applications and refilings for the business purpose of delaying the issuance of previously allowed claims.). An examiner should obtain approval from the TC Director before making a rejection on the grounds of prosecution history laches.