2633 Workflow [R-7]
After the reexamination file has been reviewed in the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) to ensure that it is ready for examination, the reexamination proceeding will be assigned to an examiner.
In the event the ** > CRU Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE) < believes that another Art Unit within the CRU should examine the reexamination > file < , see MPEP § 2637 for procedures for transferring the reexamination > file < .
After the examiner receives the new inter partes reexamination file, the examiner will, no later than one week after receipt of the inter partes reexamination file, prepare for an initial consultation conference with the Reexamination Legal Advisor (RLA) and notify the * > CRU SPE < that he/she is ready for the conference and specify the days and times that he/she is available. The * > CRU SPE < will schedule the consultation conference with the RLA. At the scheduled conference, the consultation will be conducted with the examiner, a * > CRU SPE < , and the RLA being present. At the consultation conference, the RLA will provide instructions as to preparation of the decision on the request for inter partes reexamination and (where reexamination is granted) a first action which would accompany an order granting reexamination. The RLA provides guidance regarding the formalities governing the structure of the examiner’s decision on the request for inter partes reexamination and accompanying first action. In the rare circumstances where a first action is not to be provided with the order granting reexamination (see MPEP § 2660), the RLA will so instruct the examiner. The consultation conference should be completed within two weeks of when the case was initially forwarded to the examiner.
After the consultation conference, the examiner will prepare a decision on the request for reexamination, and, where applicable, a first Office action to accompany the decision no later than two weeks from the date of the consultation conference (unless otherwise authorized by the CRU Director or a RLA). ** After the primary examiner signs the decision and/or action, the appropriate materials, e.g., copies of references as needed and a copy of the Office action for the patent owner and the third party requester, will be compiled and any needed copying will be performed by the CRU support staff. Thereafter, the reexamination file will be forwarded to the * > CRU SPE < for review. The * > CRU SPE < will then arrange for the decision and/or action to be hand-carried directly to the RLA.
The * > CRU SPE < will have one (1) week from the SPRE’s receipt of the reexamination file from the examiner to perform the review, to obtain needed corrections, and to forward the reexamination file to the RLA. At the very latest, the decision and action prepared by the examiner must be forwarded to the RLA within nine (9) weeks of the filing date of the request (unless otherwise authorized by the CRU Director or a RLA). After the * > CRU SPE < approves the Office action, the examiner’s decision and action are hand-carried directly to the RLA for a final review. The RLA performs a general review of the decision and action, and then the decision and action are mailed from the CRU. A transmittal form PTOL-501 with the third party requester’s address will be completed, if a copy for mailing is not already available. The transmittal form PTOL-501 is used to forward copies of Office actions (and any references cited in the actions) to the third party requester. Whenever an Office action is issued, a copy of this form will be made and attached to a copy of the Office action. The use of this form removes the need to retype the third party requester’s address each time a mailing is required. In conjunction with the mailing, any appropriate processing (e.g., PALM work, update scanning) is carried out by the staff of the CRU. Ordinarily, there is no counting of actions in a reexamination proceeding; all time spent on reexamination is reported as set forth in MPEP § 2638. Where the reexamination has been merged with a reissue (see MPEP § 2686.03), the merged proceeding will generally be conducted in the TC, and reissue counting will be done by the TC.
Upon receipt of a patent owner response to the action (and third party requester comments where permitted) by the CRU, or upon the expiration of the time to submit same, the examiner will be notified and the reexamination file is messaged to the examiner. The examiner will review the response and comments, decide on a proposed course of action, consult with the RLA (with the * > CRU SPE or Technology Center (TC) Quality Assurance Specialist (QAS) < being present) and then prepare the appropriate action for the reexamination. The action will be reviewed and mailed as discussed above. Further prosecution and examination will follow in a similar manner. See MPEP § 2671.03 for panel review prior to issuing Office actions. See MPEP § 2676 for appeal conferences and MPEP § 2677 for Examiner’s Answers.