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707    Examiner’s Letter or Action [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.104   Nature of examination.

  • (a) Examiner’s action.
    • (1) On taking up an application for examination or a patent in a reexamination proceeding, the examiner shall make a thorough study thereof and shall make a thorough investigation of the available prior art relating to the subject matter of the claimed invention. The examination shall be complete with respect both to compliance of the application or patent under reexamination with the applicable statutes and rules and to the patentability of the invention as claimed, as well as with respect to matters of form, unless otherwise indicated.
    • (2) The applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding, both the patent owner and the requester, will be notified of the examiner’s action. The reasons for any adverse action or any objection or requirement will be stated in an Office action and such information or references will be given as may be useful in aiding the applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding the patent owner, to judge the propriety of continuing the prosecution.
    • (3) An international-type search will be made in all national applications filed on and after June 1, 1978.
    • (4) Any national application may also have an international-type search report prepared thereon at the time of the national examination on the merits, upon specific written request therefor and payment of the international-type search report fee set forth in § 1.21(e). The Patent and Trademark Office does not require that a formal report of an international-type search be prepared in order to obtain a search fee refund in a later filed international application.
  • (b) Completeness of examiner’s action. The examiner’s action will be complete as to all matters, except that in appropriate circumstances, such as misjoinder of invention, fundamental defects in the application, and the like, the action of the examiner may be limited to such matters before further action is made. However, matters of form need not be raised by the examiner until a claim is found allowable.
  • (c) Rejection of claims.
    • (1) If the invention is not considered patentable, or not considered patentable as claimed, the claims, or those considered unpatentable will be rejected.
    • (2) In rejecting claims for want of novelty or for obviousness, the examiner must cite the best references at his or her command. When a reference is complex or shows or describes inventions other than that claimed by the applicant, the particular part relied on must be designated as nearly as practicable. The pertinence of each reference, if not apparent, must be clearly explained and each rejected claim specified.
    • (3) In rejecting claims the examiner may rely upon admissions by the applicant, or the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding, as to any matter affecting patentability and, insofar as rejections in applications are concerned, may also rely upon facts within his or her knowledge pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
    • (4)
      • (i) Subject matter which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) and a claimed invention will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) if the applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
      • (ii) Subject matter which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) and a claimed invention will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) on the basis of a joint research agreement under 35 U.S.C. 102(c) if:
        • (A) The applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter was developed and the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of one or more parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 100(h) and § 1.9(e), that was in effect on or before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, and the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
        • (B) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (5)
      • (i) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application filed on or after November 29, 1999, or any patent issuing thereon, in an application filed before November 29, 1999, but pending on December 10, 2004, or any patent issuing thereon, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if the applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention, at the time the claimed invention was made, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
      • (ii) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application pending on or after December 10, 2004, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, on the basis of a joint research agreement under 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if:
        • (A) The applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention were made by or on behalf of the parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 100(h) and § 1.9(e), which was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and that the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
        • (B) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (6) Patents issued prior to December 10, 2004, from applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, are subject to 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect on November 28, 1999.
  • (d) Citation of references.
    • (1) If domestic patents are cited by the examiner, their numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated. If domestic patent application publications are cited by the examiner, their publication number, publication date, and the names of the applicants will be stated. If foreign published applications or patents are cited, their nationality or country, numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated, and such other data will be furnished as may be necessary to enable the applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding, the patent owner, to identify the published applications or patents cited. In citing foreign published applications or patents, in case only a part of the document is involved, the particular pages and sheets containing the parts relied upon will be identified. If printed publications are cited, the author (if any), title, date, pages or plates, and place of publication, or place where a copy can be found, will be given.
    • (2) When a rejection in an application is based on facts within the personal knowledge of an employee of the Office, the data shall be as specific as possible, and the reference must be supported, when called for by the applicant, by the affidavit of such employee, and such affidavit shall be subject to contradiction or explanation by the affidavits of the applicant and other persons.
  • (e) Reasons for allowance. If the examiner believes that the record of the prosecution as a whole does not make clear his or her reasons for allowing a claim or claims, the examiner may set forth such reasoning. The reasons shall be incorporated into an Office action rejecting other claims of the application or patent under reexamination or be the subject of a separate communication to the applicant or patent owner. The applicant or patent owner may file a statement commenting on the reasons for allowance within such time as may be specified by the examiner. Failure by the examiner to respond to any statement commenting on reasons for allowance does not give rise to any implication.

For Office actions in ex parte reexamination proceedings, see MPEP §2260, § 2262, and § 2271 and their indents. For Office actions in inter partes reexamination proceedings, see MPEP § 2660, § 2671, and § 2673, and their indents.

Under the current first action procedure, the examiner signifies on the Office Action Summary Form PTOL-326 certain information including the period set for reply, any attachments, and a “Summary of Action,” which is the position taken on all the claims.

The examiner, in the exercise of his or her professional judgment, is permitted to indicate that an interview with applicant’s representative may result in agreements whereby the application may be placed in condition for allowance Any resulting amendment may be made either by the applicant’s attorney or agent or by the examiner in an examiner’s amendment. It should be recognized that when extensive amendments are necessary it would be preferable if they were filed by the attorney or agent of record, thereby reducing the professional and clerical workload in the Office and also providing the file wrapper with a better record, including applicant’s arguments for allowability as required by 37 CFR 1.111 See MPEP § 713et seq. for interview practice.

The list of references cited appears on a separate form, Notice of References Cited, PTO-892 (copy in MPEP § 707.05) attached to applicant’s copies of the action. Where applicable, a Notice of Informal Patent Application is attached to the first action.

The attachments have the same paper number and are to be considered as part of the Office action.

Replies to Office actions should include the application number as well as the 4-digit art unit number and the examiner’s name to expedite handling within the Office. Further, applicants are encouraged to include the 4-digit confirmation number on every paper filed in the Office. See MPEP § 503 for an explanation of the confirmation number.

In accordance with the patent statute, “Whenever, on examination, any claim for a patent is rejected, or any objection . . . made,” notification of the reasons for rejection and/or objection together with such information and references as may be useful in judging the propriety of continuing the prosecution (35 U.S.C. 132) should be given.

When considered necessary for adequate information, the particular figure(s) of the drawing(s), and/or page(s) or paragraph(s) of the reference(s), and/or any relevant comments briefly stated should be included. For rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103, the way in which a reference is modified or plural references are combined should be set out.

In exceptional cases, as to satisfy the requirements under 37 CFR 1.104(c)(2), and in pro se cases where the inventor is unfamiliar with patent law and practice, a more complete explanation may be needed.

Objections to the disclosure, explanation of references cited but not applied, indication of allowable subject matter, requirements (including requirements for restriction if applicable) and any other pertinent comments may be included. Office Action Summary form PTOL-326, which serves as the first page of the Office action (although a Form PTOL-90 may be used as a coversheet for the correspondence address and the mail date of the Office action), is to be used with all first actions and will identify any allowed claims.

One of form paragraphs 7.100, 7.101, or 7.102 should conclude all actions.

¶ 7.100    Name And Number of Examiner To Be Contacted

Any inquiry concerning this communication should be directed to [1] at telephone number [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph, form paragraph 7.101, or form paragraph 7.102 should be used at the conclusion of all actions.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the name of the examiner designated to be contacted first regarding inquiries about the Office action. This could be either the non-signatory examiner preparing the action or the signatory examiner.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert the individual area code and phone number of the examiner to be contacted.

¶ 7.101    Telephone Inquiry Contacts- Non 5/4/9 Schedule

Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner should be directed to [1] whose telephone number is [2]. The examiner can normally be reached on [3] from [4] to [5].

If attempts to reach the examiner by telephone are unsuccessful, the examiner’s supervisor, [6], can be reached on [7]. The fax phone number for the organization where this application or proceeding is assigned is 571-273-8300.

Information regarding the status of an application may be obtained from the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. Status information for published applications may be obtained from either Private PAIR or Public PAIR. Status information for unpublished applications is available through Private PAIR only. For more information about the PAIR system, see http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal. Should you have questions on access to the Private PAIR system, contact the Electronic Business Center (EBC) at 866-217-9197 (toll-free).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert your name.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert your individual area code and phone number.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert the days that you work every week, e.g. “Monday-Thursday” for an examiner off every Friday.
  • 4. In brackets 4 and 5, insert your normal duty hours, e.g. “6:30 AM - 5:00 PM.”
  • 5. In bracket 6, insert your SPE’s name.
  • 6. In bracket 7, insert your SPE’s area code and phone number.

¶ 7.102    Telephone Inquiry Contacts- 5/4/9 Schedule

Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner should be directed to [1] whose telephone number is [2]. The examiner can normally be reached on [3] from [4] to [5]. The examiner can also be reached on alternate [6].

If attempts to reach the examiner by telephone are unsuccessful, the examiner’s supervisor, [7], can be reached on [8]. The fax phone number for the organization where this application or proceeding is assigned is 571-273-8300.

Information regarding the status of an application may be obtained from the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. Status information for published applications may be obtained from either Private PAIR or Public PAIR. Status information for unpublished applications is available through Private PAIR only. For more information about the PAIR system, see http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal. Should you have questions on access to the Private PAIR system, contact the Electronic Business Center (EBC) at 866-217-9197 (toll-free).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert your name.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert your individual area code and phone number.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert the days that you work every week, e.g. “Monday-Thursday” for an examiner off on alternate Fridays.
  • 4. In brackets 4 and 5, insert your normal duty hours, e.g. “6:30 AM - 4:00 PM.”
  • 5. In bracket 6, insert the day in each pay-period that is your compressed day off, e.g. “Fridays” for an examiner on a 5/4/9 work schedule with the first Friday off.
  • 6. In bracket 7, insert your SPE’s name.
  • 7. In bracket 8, insert your SPE’s area code and phone number.

Where the text of sections of Title 35, U.S. Code was previously reproduced in an Office action, form paragraph 7.103 may be used.

¶ 7.103    Statute Cited in Prior Action

The text of those sections of Title 35, U.S. Code not included in this action can be found in a prior Office action.

Form PTO-326. Office Action Summary

707.01   Primary Examiner Indicates Action for New Assistant [R-11.2013]

After the search has been completed, action is taken in the light of the references found. Where the assistant examiner has been in the Office but a short time, it is the duty of the primary examiner to review the application thoroughly. The usual procedure is for the assistant examiner to explain the invention and discuss the references which he or she regards as most pertinent. The primary examiner may indicate the action to be taken, whether restriction or election of species is to be required, or whether the claims are to be considered on their merits. If action on the merits is to be given and claims rejected, the primary examiner may indicate how the references are to be applied in any prior art rejection and explain the basis for any non-prior art grounds of rejection. The primary examiner may authorize allowance if all the statutory requirements are met and no further field of search is known.

707.02   Applications Up for Third Action and 5-Year Applications [R-08.2012]

The supervisory patent examiners should impress their assistants with the fact that the shortest path to the final disposition of an application is by finding the best references on the first search and carefully applying them.

The supervisory patent examiners are expected to personally check on the pendency of every application which is up for the third or subsequent Office action with a view to finally concluding its prosecution.

Any application that has been pending five years should be carefully studied by the supervisory patent examiner and every effort should be made to terminate its prosecution. In order to accomplish this result, the application is to be considered “special” by the examiner.

707.03-707.04   [Reserved]

707.05   Citation of References [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.104   Nature of examination.

*****

  • (d) Citation of references.
    • (1) If domestic patents are cited by the examiner, their numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated. If domestic patent application publications are cited by the examiner, their publication number, publication date, and the names of the applicants will be stated. If foreign published applications or patents are cited, their nationality or country, numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated, and such other data will be furnished as may be necessary to enable the applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding, the patent owner, to identify the published applications or patents cited. In citing foreign published applications or patents, in case only a part of the document is involved, the particular pages and sheets containing the parts relied upon will be identified. If printed publications are cited, the author (if any), title, date, pages or plates, and place of publication, or place where a copy can be found, will be given.
    • (2) When a rejection in an application is based on facts within the personal knowledge of an employee of the Office, the data shall be as specific as possible, and the reference must be supported, when called for by the applicant, by the affidavit of such employee, and such affidavit shall be subject to contradiction or explanation by the affidavits of the applicant and other persons.

*****

During the examination of an application or reexamination of a patent, the examiner should cite appropriate prior art which is nearest to the subject matter defined in the claims. When such prior art is cited, its pertinence should be explained.

The examiner must consider all the prior art references (alone and in combination) cited in the application or reexamination, including those cited by the applicant in a properly submitted Information Disclosure Statement. See MPEP § 609.

Form paragraph 7.96 may be used as an introductory sentence.

¶ 7.96    Citation of Relevant Prior Art

The prior art made of record and not relied upon is considered pertinent to applicant’s disclosure. [1]

Examiner Note:

When such prior art is cited, its relevance should be explained in bracket 1 in accordance with MPEP § 707.05.

Effective June 8, 1995, Public Law 103-465 amended 35 U.S.C. 154 to change the term of a patent to 20 years measured from the filing date of the earliest U.S. application for which benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) is claimed. The 20-year patent term applies to all utility and plant patents issued on applications filed on or after June 8, 1995. Effective March 16, 2013, Public Law 112-196 amended Title 35 of the U.S. Code to change U.S. practice from a first to invent system to a first inventor to file system. In certain circumstances, applicants may cancel their benefit/priority claim by amending the specification to delete any references to prior applications. Therefore, examiners should search all applications based on the actual U.S. filing date of the application rather than on the filing date of any parent U.S. application for which benefit is claimed or foreign application to which priority is claimed. Examiners should cite of interest all material prior art having an effective filing date after the filing date of the U.S. parent application or the foreign priority application but before the actual filing date of the application being examined.

Allowed applications should generally contain a citation of pertinent prior art for printing in the patent, even if no claim presented during the prosecution was considered unpatentable over such prior art. Only in those instances where a proper search has not revealed any prior art relevant to the claimed invention is it appropriate to send an application to issue with no art cited. In the case where no prior art is cited, the examiner must indicate “None” on a form PTO-892 and include it in the application file wrapper. Where references have been cited during the prosecution of parent applications and a continuing application, having no newly cited references, is ready for allowance, the cited references of the parent applications should be listed on a form PTO-892. The form should then be placed in the file of the continuing application. See MPEP § 1302.12. In a continued prosecution application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d), it is not necessary to prepare a new form PTO-892 because the form from the parent application is in the same file wrapper and will be used by the printer.

In all continuation and continuation-in-part applications, the parent applications should be reviewed for pertinent prior art.

Applicants and/or applicants’ attorneys in PCT related national applications may wish to cite the material citations from the PCT International Search Report by an information disclosure statement under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98 in order to ensure consideration by the examiner.

In those instances where no information disclosure statement has been filed by the applicant and where documents are cited in the International Search Report but neither a copy of the documents nor an English translation (or English family member) is provided, the examiner may exercise discretion in deciding whether to take necessary steps to obtain the copy and/or translation.

Copies of documents cited will be provided as set forth in MPEP § 707.05(a). That is, copies of documents cited by the examiner will be provided to applicant except where the documents:

  • (A) are cited by applicant in accordance with MPEP § 609, § 707.05(b), and § 708.02;
  • (B) have been referred to in applicant’s disclosure statement;
  • (C) are cited and have been provided in a parent application; or
  • (D) are U.S. Patents or U.S. application publications.

    See MPEP § 707.05(e) regarding data used in citing references.

707.05(a)   Copies of Cited References

Copies of cited foreign patent documents and non-patent literature references (except as noted below) are automatically furnished without charge to applicant together with the Office action in which they are cited. Copies of the cited references are also placed in the application file for use by the examiner during the prosecution.Copies of U.S. patents and U.S. patent application publications are not provided in paper to applicants and are not placed in the application file.

Copies of references cited by applicant in accordance with MPEP § 609, § 707.05(b) and § 708.02 are not furnished to applicant with the Office action. Additionally, copies of references cited in continuation applications if they had been previously cited in the parent application are not furnished. The examiner should check the left hand column of form PTO-892 if a copy of the reference is not to be furnished to the applicant.

Copies of foreign patent documents and nonpatent literature (NPL) which are cited by the examiner at the time of allowance will be furnished to applicant with the Office action and be retained in the image file wrapper. This will apply to all allowance actions, including first action allowances and Ex ParteQuayle actions.

In the rare instance where no art is cited in a continuing application, all the references cited during the prosecution of the parent application will be listed at allowance for printing in the patent.

To assist in providing copies of , or access to, references, the examiner should:

  • (A) Type the citation of the references on form PTO-892, “Notice of References Cited” using OACS;
  • (B) Include in the eRed Folder all of the references cited by the examiner which are to be furnished to the applicant.
  • (C) After any necessary review has taken place, forward the action to the TC mailbox for counting. Any application which is handed in without all of the required references will be returned to the examiner. The missing reference(s) should be obtained and the file returned to the technical support staff as quickly as possible.

In the case of design applications, procedures are the same as set forth in MPEP § 707.05 (a)-(g).

¶ 7.82.03    How To Obtain Copies of U.S. Patents and U.S. Patent Application Publications

In June 2004, the USPTO ceased mailing paper copies of cited U.S. patents and U.S. patent application publications with all Office actions. See “USPTO to Provide Electronic Access to Cited U.S. Patent References with Office Actions and Cease Supplying Paper Copies,” 1282 O.G. 109 (May 18, 2004). Foreign patent documents and non-patent literature will continue to be provided to the applicant on paper.

All U.S. patents and U.S. patent application publications are available free of charge from the USPTO web site (www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html), for a fee from the Office of Public Records (http://ebiz1.uspto.gov/oems25p/index.html), and from commercial sources. Copies are also available at the Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs). A list of the PTRCs may be found on the USPTO web site (www.uspto.gov/products/library/ptdl/locations/index.jsp). Additionally, a simple new feature in the Office’s Private Patent Application Information Retrieval system (PAIR), E-Patent Reference, is available for downloading and printing of U.S. patents and U.S. patent application publications cited in U.S. Office Actions.

STEPS TO USE THE E-PATENT REFERENCE FEATURE

Access to Private PAIR is required to utilize E-Patent Reference. If you do not already have access to Private PAIR, the Office urges practitioners and applicants not represented by a practitioner to: (1) obtain a no-cost USPTO Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) digital certificate; (2) obtain a USPTO customer number; (3) associate all of their pending and new application filings with their customer number; (4) install free software (supplied by the Office) required to access Private PAIR and the E-Patent Reference; and (5) make appropriate arrangements for Internet access.

Instructions for performing the 5 steps:

Step 1: Full instructions for obtaining a PKI digital certificate are available at the Office’s Electronic Business Center (EBC) web page (www.uspto.gov/ebc/downloads.html). Note that a notarized signature will be required to obtain a digital certificate.

Step 2: To get a Customer Number, download and complete the Customer Number Request form, PTO-SB/125, from the USPTO web site (www.uspto.gov/web/forms/sb0125.pdf). The completed form can be transmitted by facsimile to the Patent Electronic Business Center at (571) 273-0177, or mailed to the address on the form. If you are a registered attorney or agent, your registration number must be associated with your customer number. This association is accomplished by adding your registration number to the Customer Number Request form.

Step 3: A description of associating a customer number with the correspondence address of an application is described at the EBC Web page (www.uspto.gov/ebc/registration_pair.html).

Step 4: The software for electronic filing is available for downloading at www.uspto.gov/ebc. Users can also contact the EFS Help Desk at (571) 272-4100 and request a copy of the software on compact disc. Users will also need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available through a link from the USPTO web site.

Step 5: Internet access will be required which applicants may obtain through a supplier of their own choice. As images of large documents must be downloaded, high-speed Internet access is recommended.

The E-Patent Reference feature is accessed using a button on the Private PAIR screen. Ordinarily all of the cited U.S. patent and U.S. patent application publication references will be available over the Internet using the Office’s new E-Patent Reference feature. The size of the references to be downloaded will be displayed by E-Patent Reference so the download time can be estimated. Applicants and registered practitioners can select to download all of the references or any combination of cited references. Selected references will be downloaded as complete documents in Portable Document Format (PDF). The downloaded documents can be viewed and printed using commercially available software, such as ADOBE® READER®. ADOBE® READER® is available free of charge from Adobe Systems Incorporated (www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readermain.html).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph is recommended for use in Office actions citing U.S. patents or U.S. patent application publications when the applicant is not represented by a registered patent attorney or a registered patent agent.

Form PTO-892. Notice of References Cited

707.05(b)   Citation of Related Art and Information by Applicants

I.    CITATION OF RELATED ART BY APPLICANTS

MPEP § 609 sets forth guidelines for applicants, their attorneys and agents who desire to submit prior art for consideration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Submitted citations will not in any way diminish the obligation of examiners to conduct independent prior art searches, or relieve examiners of citing other pertinent prior art of which they may be aware.

Prior art submitted by applicant in the manner provided in MPEP § 609 will not be supplied with an Office action.

II.    CITATION OF RELATED INFORMATION BY APPLICANTS

37 CFR 1.105 and MPEP § 704.10et seq. set forth procedures for examiners to require applicants, their attorneys and agents to submit information reasonably necessary for the Office to examine an application or treat a matter being addressed in an application.

Any such requirement, and any information submitted in reply thereto, will not in any way diminish the obligation of examiners to conduct independent prior art searches, or relieve examiners of citing other pertinent prior art of which they may be aware.

Information submitted by applicant in the manner provided in MPEP § 704.10et seq. will not be supplied with an Office action.

707.05(c)   Order of Listing

In citing references for the first time, the identifying data of the citation should be placed on form PTO-892 “Notice of References Cited,” a copy of which will be attached to the Office action. No distinction is to be made between references on which a claim is rejected and those formerly referred to as “pertinent.” With the exception of applicant submitted citations, MPEP § 609 and § 708.02, it is recommended that the pertinent features of references which are not used as a basis for rejection be pointed out briefly.

See MPEP § 1302.12.

707.05(d)   Reference Cited in Subsequent Actions

Where an applicant in an amendatory paper refers to a reference that is subsequently relied upon by the examiner, such reference shall be cited by the examiner in the usual manner using a form PTO-892, “Notice of References Cited,” unless applicant has listed the reference on a form PTO/SB/08 that has been initialed by the examiner.

707.05(e)   Data Used in Citing References

37 CFR 1.104(d) (see also MPEP § 707.05 and § 901.05(a)) requires the examiner to provide certain data when citing references. The examiner should provide the citations on the “Notice of References Cited” form PTO-892 (copy at MPEP § 707.05).

I.    U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS

If a U.S. patent application publication is cited by the examiner, the publication number, publication date, name of the applicant, class, and subclass should be cited under the section “U.S. Patent Documents” on the form PTO-892. For U.S. patents, the patent number, patent date, name of the patentee, and the relevant classification should also be cited under the same section. In addition, examiners are encouraged to cite the kind codes printed on U.S. patent application publications and patents. See MPEP § 901.04(a) for an explanation of the kind codes. See MPEP § 901.04 for details concerning the various series of U.S. patents and how to cite them. Note that patents of the X-Series (dated prior to July 4, 1836) are not to be cited by number. Some U.S. patents issued in 1861 have two numbers thereon. The larger number should be cited.

Defensive Publications and Statutory Invention Registrations (SIRs) should be cited under the section “U.S. Patent Documents” on the form PTO-892 (see MPEP § 711.06(a) and § 901.06(a)).

II.    FOREIGN PATENTS AND FOREIGN PUBLISHED APPLICATIONS

In citing foreign patents, the patent number, kind code, citation date, name of the country, name of the patentee, and the relevant classification, if appropriate, must be given. Foreign patents searched in those Technology Centers (TCs) using the International Patent Classification (IPC) will be cited using the appropriate IPC subclass/group/subgroup. On the application’s "Search Notes" FWF form and PTO-892, the IPC subclass/group/subgroup shall be cited in the spaces provided for “Classification.”

Where less than the entire disclosure of the reference is relied upon, the sheet and page numbers specifically relied upon and the total number of sheets of drawing and pages of specification must be included (except applicant submitted citations). If the entire disclosure is relied on, the total number of sheets and pages are not required to be included on the PTO-892.

Publications such as German allowed applications and Belgian and Netherlands printed specifications should be similarly handled.

See MPEP § 901.05(a) for a chart in which foreign language terms indicative of foreign patent and publication dates to be cited are listed.

III.    PUBLICATIONS

Abstracts, abbreviatures, Alien Property Custodian publications, withdrawn U.S. patents, withdrawn U.S. patent application publications, and other non-patent documents should be cited under the section “Non-Patent Documents” on the form PTO-892). See MPEP § 711.06(a) for citation of abstracts, and abbreviatures. See MPEP § 901.06(c) for citation of Alien Property Custodian publications. In citing a publication, sufficient information should be given to determine the identity and facilitate the location of the publication. For books, the data required by 37 CFR 1.104(d) (MPEP § 707.05) with the specific pages relied on identified together with the Scientific and Technical Information Center (STIC) call number will suffice. The call number appears on the “spine” of the book if the book is thick enough and, in any event, on the back of the title page. Books on interlibrary loan will be marked with the call numbers of the other library, of course. THIS NUMBER SHOULD NOT BE CITED. The same convention should be followed in citing articles from periodicals. The call number should be cited for periodicals owned by the STIC, but not for periodicals borrowed from other libraries. In citing periodicals, information sufficient to identify the article includes the author(s) and title of the article and the title, volume number issue number, date, and pages of the periodical. If the copy relied on is located only in the Technology Center making the action (there may be no call number), the additional information, “Copy in Technology Center — —” should be given.

The following are examples of nonpatent bibliographical citations:

(A) For books:

Winslow. C. E. A. Fresh Air and Ventilation. N.Y., E. P. Dutton, 1926. p. 97-112. TI17653.W5.

(B) For parts of books:

Smith, J. F. “Patent Searching.” in: Singer, T.E.R., Information and Communication Practice in Industry (New York, Reinhold, 1958), pp. 157-165. T 175.S5.

(C) For encyclopedia articles:

Calvert, R. “Patents (Patent Law).” in: Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology (1952 ed.), vol. 9, pp. 868-890. Ref. TP9.E68.

(D) For sections of handbooks:

Machinery’s Handbook, 16th ed. New York, International Press, 1959. pp. 1526-1527. TJ151.M3 1959.

(E) For periodical articles:

Noyes, W. A. A Climate for Basic Chemical Research

Chemical & Engineering News, Vol. 38, no. 42 (Oct. 17, 1960), pp. 91-95. TP1.I418.

The following are examples of how withdrawn U.S. patents and withdrawn U.S. patent application publications should be cited:

(A) Withdrawn U.S. patents:

US 6,999,999, 10/2002, Brown et al., 403/155 (withdrawn).

(B) Withdrawn U.S. patents application publications:

US 2002/0009999 A1, 7/2002, Jones et al., 403/155 (withdrawn).

Titles of books and periodicals SHOULD NOT be abbreviated because an abbreviation such as P.S.E.B.M. will not be sufficient to identify the publication. References are to be cited so that anyone reading a patent may identify and retrieve the publications cited. Bibliographic information provided must be at least enough to identify the publication. author, title and date. For books, minimal information includes the author, title, and date. For periodicals, at least the title of the periodical, the volume number, date, and pages should be given. These minimal citations may be made ONLY IF the complete bibliographic details are unknown or unavailable.

Where a nonpatent literature reference with a document identification number is cited, the identification number and the class and subclass should be included on form PTO-892. For example, the citation should be as follows: (S00840001) Winslow, C.E.A. Fresh Air and Ventilation N.Y., E.P. Dutton, 1926, p. 97-112, TH 7653, W5, 315/22.

If the original publication is located outside the Office, the examiner should immediately make or order a photocopy of at least the portion relied upon and indicate the class and subclass in which it will be filed, if any.

IV.    ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS

An electronic document is one that can be retrieved from an online source (e.g., the Internet, online database, etc.) or sources found on electronic storage media (e.g., CD-ROM, magnetic disk or tape, etc.). Many references in paper format may also be retrieved as electronic documents. Other references are retrievable only from electronic sources.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office follows the format recommended by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standard ST.14, “Recommendation for the Inclusion of References Cited in Patent Documents.” The format for the citation of an electronic document is as similar as possible to the format used for paper documents of the same type, but with the addition of the following information in the locations indicated, where appropriate:

  • (A) the type of electronic medium provided in square brackets [ ] after the title of the publication or the designation of the host document, e.g., [online], [CD-ROM], [disk], [magnetic tape]. If desired, the type of publication (e.g., monograph, serial, database, electronic mail, computer program, bulletin board) may also be specified in the type of medium designator ;
  • (B) the date when the document was retrieved from the electronic media in square brackets following after the date of publication, e.g., [retrieved on March 4, 1998], [retrieved on 1998-03-04]. The four-digit year must always be given.
  • (C) identification of the source of the document using the words “Retrieved from” and its address where applicable. This item will precede the citation of the relevant passages.
  • (D) reference to the unique Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, or other unique identification number, if known.
  • (E) if considered necessary, the standard identifier and number assigned to the item, e.g., ISBN 2-7654-0537-9, ISSN 1045-1064. It should be noted that these numbers may differ for the same title in the printed and electronic versions.
  • (F) where multiple renderings of the same document are published (e.g., PDF and HTML), an indication of the format (e.g., paper, PDF) and the location of the cited document.
  • (G) use paragraph numbers, sentence numbers and line numbers (if available) to describe the specific location of the cited material within an electronic document.
  • (H) claim numbers, figure numbers, chemical formula numbers, mathematical formula numbers, table heading numbers, gene sequence numbers, and computer program listing numbers if available.
  • (I) specific headings within the document structure such as Best Mode of Performing the Invention or Industrial Applicability can be indicated if page, paragraph, and line numbers are not available in a cited patent document in electronic format.
  • (J) specific passages of the text can be indicated if the format of the document includes pagination or an equivalent internal referencing system, or by the first and last words of the passage cited.

Office copies of an electronic document must be retained if the same document may not be available for retrieval in the future. This is especially important for sources such as the Internet and online databases.

If an electronic document is also available in paper form it does not need to be identified as an electronic document, unless it is considered desirable or useful to do so.

Examples 1-4: Documents retrieved from online databases outside the Internet

Example 1:

SU 1511467 A (BRYAN MECH) 1989-09-30 (abstract) World Patents Index [databaseonline]. Derwent Publications, Ltd. [retrieved on 1998-02-24]. Retrieved from: Questel. DW9016, Accession No. 90-121923.

Example 2:

DONG, XR. ‘Analysis of patients of multiple injuries with AIS-ISS and its clinical significance in the evaluation of the emergency managements’, Chung Hua Wai Ko Tsa Chih, May 1993, Vol. 31, No. 5, pages 301-302. (abstract) Medline [online]: United States National Library of Medicine [retrieved on 24 February 1998]. Retrieved from: Dialog . Medline Accession no. 94155687, Dialog Accession No. 07736604.

Example 3:

JENSEN, BP. ‘Multilayer printed circuits: production and application II’. Electronik, June-July 1976, No. 6-7, pages 8, 10,12,14,16. (abstract) INSPEC [online]. London, U.K.: Institute of Electrical Engineers [retrieved on 1998-02-24]. Retrieved from: STN International, USA. Accession No. 76:956632.

Example 4:

JP 3002404 (Tamura Toru) 1991-03-13 (abstract). [online] [retrieved on 1998-09-02]. Retrieved from: EPOQUE PAJ Database.

Examples 5-15: Documents retrieved from the Internet

Example 5:

(Electronic patent document – not page based)

WO 2004/091307 A2 (ADVANCED BIONUTRITON CORP) 2004-10-28, paragraphs [0068], [0069]; examples 2, 6.

GB 2,432,062 A (GE INSPECTION TECHNOLOGY LP) 2007.05.09, Detailed Description, third paragraph beginning ‘Referring to Figure 2’.

Example 6:

(Electronically registered Intellectual Property – other than patent documents)

HU D9900111 Industrial Design Application, (HADJDUTEJ TEJIPARI RT, DEBRECEN) 2007-07-19, [database online], [retrieved on 1999-10-26] Retrieved from the Industrial Design Database of the Hungarian Patent Office using Internet <URL: http://elajstrom.hpo.hu/?lang=EN>

Example 7:

(Entire Work – Book or Report)

WALLACE, S, and BAGHERZADEH, N. Multiple Branch and Block Prediction. Third International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture [online], February 1997 [retrieved on 2007-07-18]. Retrieved from the Internet:< URL: http: // ieeexplore .ieee.org/xpl/ freeabs_all.jsp?tp=&arnumber= 569645&isnumber=12370> <DOI:10.1109/HPCA.1977.569645>. >.

Example 8:

(Part of Work – chapter or equivalent designation)

National Research Council, Board on Agriculture, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Subcommittee on Beef Cattle Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle [online]. 7th revised edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996 [retrieved on 2007-07-19]. Retrieved from the Internet:< URL: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php ?record_id=9791&page=24> Chapter 3, page 24, table 3-1, ISBN-10: 0-309-06934-3.

Example 9:

(Electronic Serial – articles or other contributions)

AJTAI, Miklos,. Generating Hard Instances of Lattice Problems. Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity, Report TR96-007 [serialonline], [retrieved on 1996-01-30]. Retrieved from the Internet <URL: http ://eccc.hpi-web.de/pub/eccc/reports/1996/TR96-007/index.html>

Example 10:

OWEN, RW et al. Olive-oil consumption and health: the possible role of antioxidants. Lancet Oncology, Vol 1, No. 2, 1 October 2000, pp. 107-112 [online], [retrieved on 2007-07-18]. Retrieved from the Internet <URL: http://www.ingentaconnect. com /content/els /14702045/2000/00000001/00000002/art0001> <DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(00)00015-2>

Example 11:

(Electronic bulletin boards, message systems, and discussion lists – Entire System)

BIOMET-L (A forum for the Bureau of Biometrics of New York) [online]. Albany (NY): Bureau of Biometrics, New York State Health Department, July, 1990 [retrieved 1998-02-24]. Retrieved from the Internet: <listserv@health.state.ny.us>, message: subscribe BIOMET-L your real name.

Example 12:

(Electronic bulletin boards, message systems, and discussion lists – Contributions)

PARKER, Elliott. ‘Re: citing electronic journals’. In PACS-L (Public Access Computer Systems Forum) [online]. Houston (TX): University of Houston Libraries, November 24, 1989; 13:29:35 CST [retrieved on 1998-02-24]. Retrieved from the Internet: <URL:telnet://bruser@a.cni.org>.

Example 13:

(Electronic mail)

‘Plumb design of a visual thesaurus’. The Scout Report [online]. 1998, vol. 5 no. 3 [retrieved on 1998-05-18]. Retrieved from Internet electronic mail: <listserv@cs.wisc.edu>, subscribe message: info scout-report. Retrieved from the Internet: <URL: http://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/1998/scout-980515.html#13> ISSN: 1092-3861\cf15.

Example 14:

(Product Manual/Catalogue or other information obtained from a Web site)

Corebuilder 3500 Layer 3 High-function Switch. Datasheet [online]. 3Com Corporation, 1997 [retrieved on 1998-02-24]. Retrieved from the Internet: <URL: www.3com.com/products/dsheets/400347.html>.

Examples 15 and 16: Documents retrieved from CD-ROM products

Example 15:

JP 0800085 A (TORAY IND INC), (abstract), 1996-05-31. In: Patent Abstracts of Japan [CD-ROM].

Examples 16:

HAYASHIDA, O et al.: Specific molecular recognition by chiral cage-type cyclophanes having leucine, valine, and alanine residues. : Tetrahedron 1955, Vol. 51 (31), p. 8423-36. In: Chemical Abstracts [CD-ROM]. CAS Abstract

707.05(f)   [Reserved]

707.05(g)   Incorrect Citation of References

Where an error in citation of a reference is brought to the attention of the Office by applicant, a letter correcting the error, together with a correct copy of the reference, is sent to applicant. See MPEP § 710.06. Where the error is discovered by the examiner, applicant is also notified and the period for reply restarted. See MPEP § 710.06.

One or more of form paragraphs 7.81, 7.82, 7.82.01, and 7.83 may be used to correct citations or copies of references cited.

¶ 7.81    Correction Letter Re Last Office Action

In response to applicant’s [1] regarding the last Office action, the following corrective action is taken.

The period for reply of [2] MONTHS set in said Office action is restarted to begin with the mailing date of this letter.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert --telephone inquiry of _____-- or --communication dated ______--.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert new period for reply.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be followed by one or more of form paragraphs 7.82, 7.82.01 or 7.83.
  • 4. Before restarting the period, the SPE should be consulted.

¶ 7.82    Correction of Reference Citation

The reference [1] was not correctly cited in the last Office action. The correct citation is shown on the attached PTO-892.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Every correction MUST be reflected on a corrected or new PTO-892.
  • 2. This form paragraph must follow form paragraph 7.81.
  • 3. If a copy of the PTO-892 is being provided without correction, use form paragraph 7.83 instead of this form paragraph.
  • 4. Also use form paragraph 7.82.01 if reference copies are being supplied.

¶ 7.82.01    Copy of Reference(s) Furnished

Copies of the following references not previously supplied are enclosed:

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The USPTO ceased mailing paper copies of U.S. patents and U.S. application publications cited in Office Actions in nonprovisional applications beginning in June 2004. See the phase-in schedule of the E-Patent Reference program provided in “USPTO to Provide Electronic Access to Cited U.S. Patent References with Office Actions and Cease Supplying Paper Copies,” 1282 O.G. 109 (May 18, 2004). Therefore, this form paragraph should only be used for foreign patent documents, non-patent literature, pending applications that are not stored in the image file wrapper (IFW) system, and other information not previously supplied.
  • 2. The reference copies being supplied must be listed following this form paragraph.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.81 and may also be used with form paragraphs 7.82 or 7.83.

¶ 7.83    Copy of Office Action Supplied

[1] of the last Office action is enclosed.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, explain what is enclosed. For example:
    • “A corrected copy”
    • “A complete copy”
    • A specific page or pages, e.g., “Pages 3-5”
    • “A Notice of References Cited, Form PTO-892”
  • 2. This form paragraph should follow form paragraph 7.81 and may follow form paragraphs 7.82 and 7.82.01.

In any application otherwise ready for issue, in which the erroneous citation has not been formally corrected in an official paper, the examiner is directed to correct the citation by examiner’s amendment accompanying the Notice of Allowability form PTOL-37.

If a FOREIGN patent is incorrectly cited: for example, the wrong country is indicated or the country omitted from the citation, the General Reference Branch of the Scientific and Technical Library may be helpful. The date and number of the patent are often sufficient to determine the correct country which granted the patent.

707.06   Citation of Decisions, Orders Memorandums, and Notices [R-11.2013]

In citing court decisions, when it is convenient to do so, the U.S. or Federal Reporter citation should be provided; in the alternative, the USPQ citation should be given.

The citation of decisions which are not available to the public should be avoided.

It is important to recognize that a federal district court decision that has been reversed on appeal cannot be cited as authority.

In citing a decision which is available to the public but which has not been published, the tribunal rendering the decision and complete data identifying the paper should be given. Thus, a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which has not been published but which is available to the public in the patented file should be cited, as “ Ex parte — — , decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Patent No. — — — , paper No. — — , — — — pages.”

Decisions found only in patented files should be cited only when there is no published decision on the same point.

When a Director’s order, notice or memorandum not yet incorporated into this manual is cited in any official action, the title and date of the order, notice or memorandum should be given. When appropriate other data, such as a specific issue of the Official Gazette may also be given.

707.07   Completeness and Clarity of Examiner’s Action [R-08.2012]

37 C.F.R. 1.104   Nature of examination.

*****

  • (b) Completeness of examiner’s action. The examiner’s action will be complete as to all matters, except that in appropriate circumstances, such as misjoinder of invention, fundamental defects in the application, and the like, the action of the examiner may be limited to such matters before further action is made. However, matters of form need not be raised by the examiner until a claim is found allowable.

*****

707.07(a)   Complete Action on Formal Matters

Any form that lists informalities and any additional formal requirements which the examiner desires to make should be included in the first action.

When any formal requirement is made in an examiner’s action, that action should, in all cases where it indicates allowable subject matter, call attention to 37 CFR 1.111(b) and state that a complete reply must either comply with all formal requirements or specifically traverse each requirement not complied with.

¶ 7.43.03    Allowable Subject Matter, Formal Requirements Outstanding

As allowable subject matter has been indicated, applicant’s reply must either comply with all formal requirements or specifically traverse each requirement not complied with. See 37 CFR 1.111(b) and MPEP § 707.07(a).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph would be appropriate when changes (for example, drawing corrections or corrections to the specification) must be made prior to allowance.

707.07(b) - 707.07(c)   [Reserved]

707.07(d)   Language To Be Used in Rejecting Claims

Where a claim is refused for any reason relating to the merits thereof it should be “rejected” and the ground of rejection fully and clearly stated, and the word “reject” must be used. The examiner should designate the statutory basis for any ground of rejection by express reference to a section of 35 U.S.C. in the opening sentence of each ground of rejection. Claims should not be grouped together in a common rejection unless that rejection is equally applicable to all claims in the group.

The burden is on the Office to establish any prima facie case of unpatentability (see, e.g., MPEP § 2103), thus the reasoning behind any rejection must be clearly articulated. For example, if the claim is rejected as broader than the enabling disclosure, the reason for so holding should be explained; if rejected as indefinite the examiner should point out wherein the indefiniteness resides; or if rejected as incomplete, the element or elements lacking should be specified, or the applicant be otherwise advised as to what the claim requires to render it complete.

See MPEP § 706.02 (i), (j), and (m) for language to be used.

Everything of a personal nature must be avoided. Whatever may be the examiner’s view as to the utter lack of patentable merit in the disclosure of the application examined, he or she should not express in the record the opinion that the application is, or appears to be, devoid of patentable subject matter. Nor should he or she express doubts as to the allowability of allowed claims or state that every doubt has been resolved in favor of the applicant in granting him or her the claims allowed.

The examiner should, as a part of the first Office action on the merits, identify any claims which he or she judges, as presently recited, to be allowable and/or should suggest any way in which he or she considers that rejected claims may be amended to make them allowable.

707.07(e)   Note All Outstanding Requirements

In taking up an amended application for action the examiner should note in every letter all the requirements outstanding against the application. Every point in the prior action of an examiner which is still applicable must be repeated or referred to, to prevent the implied waiver of the requirement. Such requirements include requirements for information under 37 CFR 1.105 and MPEP § 704.10; however the examiner should determine whether any such requirement has been satisfied by a negative reply under 37 CFR 1.105(a)(3).

As soon as allowable subject matter is found, correction of all informalities then present should be required.

707.07(f)   Answer All Material Traversed

In order to provide a complete application file history and to enhance the clarity of the prosecution history record, an examiner must provide clear explanations of all actions taken by the examiner during prosecution of an application.

Where the requirements are traversed, or suspension thereof requested, the examiner should make proper reference thereto in his or her action on the amendment.

Where the applicant traverses any rejection, the examiner should, if he or she repeats the rejection, take note of the applicant’s argument and answer the substance of it.

If applicant’s arguments are persuasive and upon reconsideration of the rejection, the examiner determines that the previous rejection should be withdrawn, the examiner must provide in the next Office communication the reasons why the previous rejection is withdrawn by referring specifically to the page(s) and line(s) of applicant’s remarks which form the basis for withdrawing the rejection. It is not acceptable for the examiner to merely indicate that all of applicant’s remarks form the basis for withdrawing the previous rejection. Form paragraph 7.38.01 may be used. If the withdrawal of the previous rejection results in the allowance of the claims, the reasons, which form the basis for the withdrawal of the previous rejection, may be included in a reasons for allowance. See MPEP § 1302.14. If applicant’s arguments are persuasive and the examiner determines that the previous rejection should be withdrawn but that, upon further consideration, a new ground of rejection should be made, form paragraph 7.38.02 may be used. See MPEP § 706.07(a) to determine whether the Office action may be made final.

If a rejection of record is to be applied to a new or amended claim, specific identification of that ground of rejection, as by citation of the paragraph in the former Office letter in which the rejection was originally stated, should be given.

  ANSWERING ASSERTED ADVANTAGES

After an Office action, the reply (in addition to making amendments, etc.) may frequently include arguments and affidavits to the effect that the prior art cited by the examiner does not teach how to obtain or does not inherently yield one or more advantages (new or improved results, functions or effects), which advantages are urged to warrant issue of a patent on the allegedly novel subject matter claimed.

If it is the examiner’s considered opinion that the asserted advantages are not sufficient to overcome the rejection(s) of record, he or she should state the reasons for his or her position in the record, preferably in the action following the assertion or argument relative to such advantages. By so doing the applicant will know that the asserted advantages have actually been considered by the examiner and, if appeal is taken, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will also be advised. See MPEP § 716 et seq. for the treatment of affidavits and declarations under 37 CFR 1.132.

The importance of answering applicant’s arguments is illustrated by In re Herrmann, 261 F.2d 598, 120 USPQ 182 (CCPA 1958) where the applicant urged that the subject matter claimed produced new and useful results. The court noted that since applicant’s statement of advantages was not questioned by the examiner or the Board, it was constrained to accept the statement at face value and therefore found certain claims to be allowable. See also In re Soni, 54 F.3d 746, 751, 34 USPQ2d 1684, 1688 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (Office failed to rebut applicant’s argument).

Form paragraphs 7.37 through 7.37.13 may be used where applicant’s arguments are not persuasive.

Form paragraphs 7.38 through 7.38.02 may be used where applicant’s arguments are moot or persuasive.

¶ 7.37    Arguments Are Not Persuasive

Applicant’s arguments filed [1] have been fully considered but they are not persuasive. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The examiner must address all arguments which have not already been responded to in the statement of the rejection.
  • 2. In bracket 2, provide explanation as to non-persuasiveness.

¶ 7.38    Arguments Are Moot Because of New Ground(s) of Rejection

Applicant’s arguments with respect to claim [1] have been considered but are moot because the arguments do not apply to any of the references being used in the current rejection.

Examiner Note:

The examiner must, however, address any arguments presented by the applicant which are still relevant to any references being applied.

¶ 7.38.01    Arguments Persuasive, Previous Rejection/Objection Withdrawn

Applicant’s arguments, see [1], filed [2], with respect to [3] have been fully considered and are persuasive. The [4] of [5] has been withdrawn.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the page(s) and line number(s) from applicant’s remarks which form the basis for withdrawing the previous rejection/objection.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert claim number, figure number, the specification, the abstract, etc.
  • 3. In bracket 4, insert rejection or objection.
  • 4. In bracket 5, insert claim number, figure number, the specification, the abstract, etc.

¶ 7.38.02    Arguments Persuasive, New Ground(s) of Rejection

Applicant’s arguments, see [1], filed [2], with respect to the rejection(s) of claim(s) [3] under [4] have been fully considered and are persuasive. Therefore, the rejection has been withdrawn. However, upon further consideration, a new ground(s) of rejection is made in view of [5].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the page(s) and line number(s) from applicant’s remarks which form the basis for withdrawing the previous rejection.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert the claim number(s).
  • 3. In bracket 4, insert the statutory basis for the previous rejection.
  • 4. In bracket 5, insert the new ground(s) of rejection, e.g., different interpretation of the previously applied reference, newly found prior art reference(s), and provide an explanation of the rejection.

¶ 7.37.01    Unpersuasive Argument: Age of Reference(s)

In response to applicant’s argument based upon the age of the references, contentions that the reference patents are old are not impressive absent a showing that the art tried and failed to solve the same problem notwithstanding its presumed knowledge of the references. See In re Wright, 569 F.2d 1124, 193 USPQ 332 (CCPA 1977).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.02    Unpersuasive Argument: Bodily Incorporation

In response to applicant’s argument that [1], the test for obviousness is not whether the features of a secondary reference may be bodily incorporated into the structure of the primary reference; nor is it that the claimed invention must be expressly suggested in any one or all of the references. Rather, the test is what the combined teachings of the references would have suggested to those of ordinary skill in the art. See In re Keller, 642 F.2d 413, 208 USPQ 871 (CCPA 1981).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, briefly restate applicant’s arguments with respect to the issue of bodily incorporation.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.03    Unpersuasive Argument: Hindsight Reasoning

In response to applicant’s argument that the examiner’s conclusion of obviousness is based upon improper hindsight reasoning, it must be recognized that any judgment on obviousness is in a sense necessarily a reconstruction based upon hindsight reasoning. But so long as it takes into account only knowledge which was within the level of ordinary skill at the time the claimed invention was made, and does not include knowledge gleaned only from the applicant’s disclosure, such a reconstruction is proper. See In re McLaughlin, 443 F.2d 1392, 170 USPQ 209 (CCPA 1971).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.04    Unpersuasive Argument: No Teaching, Suggestion, or Motivation To Combine

In response to applicant’s argument that there is no teaching, suggestion, or motivation to combine the references, the examiner recognizes that obviousness may be established by combining or modifying the teachings of the prior art to produce the claimed invention where there is some teaching, suggestion, or motivation to do so found either in the references themselves or in the knowledge generally available to one of ordinary skill in the art. See In re Fine, 837 F.2d 1071, 5 USPQ2d 1596 (Fed. Cir. 1988), In re Jones, 958 F.2d 347, 21 USPQ2d 1941 (Fed. Cir. 1992), and KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 82 USPQ2d 1385 (2007). In this case, [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, explain where the teaching, suggestion, or motivation for the rejection is found, either in the references, or in the knowledge generally available to one of ordinary skill in the art.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.05    Unpersuasive Argument: Nonanalogous Art

In response to applicant’s argument that [1] is nonanalogous art, it has been held that a prior art reference must either be in the field of applicant’s endeavor or, if not, then be reasonably pertinent to the particular problem with which the applicant was concerned, in order to be relied upon as a basis for rejection of the claimed invention. See In re Oetiker, 977 F.2d 1443, 24 USPQ2d 1443 (Fed. Cir. 1992). In this case, [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, enter the name of the reference which applicant alleges is nonanalogous.
  • 2. In bracket 2, explain why the reference is analogous art.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.06    Unpersuasive Argument: Number of References

In response to applicant’s argument that the examiner has combined an excessive number of references, reliance on a large number of references in a rejection does not, without more, weigh against the obviousness of the claimed invention. See In re Gorman, 933 F.2d 982, 18 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.07    Unpersuasive Argument: Applicant Obtains Result Not Contemplated by Prior Art

In response to applicant’s argument that [1], the fact that applicant has recognized another advantage which would flow naturally from following the suggestion of the prior art cannot be the basis for patentability when the differences would otherwise be obvious. See Ex parte Obiaya, 227 USPQ 58, 60 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1985).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, briefly restate applicant’s arguments with respect to the issue of results not contemplated by the prior art.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.08    Unpersuasive Argument: Arguing Limitations Which Are Not Claimed

In response to applicant’s argument that the references fail to show certain features of applicant’s invention, it is noted that the features upon which applicant relies (i.e., [1]) are not recited in the rejected claim(s). Although the claims are interpreted in light of the specification, limitations from the specification are not read into the claims. See In re Van Geuns, 988 F.2d 1181, 26 USPQ2d 1057 (Fed. Cir. 1993).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, recite the features upon which applicant relies, but which are not recited in the claim(s).
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.09    Unpersuasive Argument: Intended Use

In response to applicant’s argument that [1], a recitation of the intended use of the claimed invention must result in a structural difference between the claimed invention and the prior art in order to patentably distinguish the claimed invention from the prior art. If the prior art structure is capable of performing the intended use, then it meets the claim.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, briefly restate applicant’s arguments with respect to the issue of intended use.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.10    Unpersuasive Argument: Limitation(s) in Preamble

In response to applicant’s arguments, the recitation [1] has not been given patentable weight because the recitation occurs in the preamble. A preamble is generally not accorded any patentable weight where it merely recites the purpose of a process or the intended use of a structure, and where the body of the claim does not depend on the preamble for completeness but, instead, the process steps or structural limitations are able to stand alone. See In re Hirao, 535 F.2d 67, 190 USPQ 15 (CCPA 1976) and Kropa v. Robie, 187 F.2d 150, 152, 88 USPQ 478, 481 (CCPA 1951).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, briefly restate the recitation about which applicant is arguing.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.11    Unpersuasive Argument: General Allegation of Patentability

Applicant’s arguments fail to comply with 37 CFR 1.111(b) because they amount to a general allegation that the claims define a patentable invention without specifically pointing out how the language of the claims patentably distinguishes them from the references.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.12    Unpersuasive Argument: Novelty Not Clearly Pointed Out

Applicant’s arguments do not comply with 37 CFR 1.111(c) because they do not clearly point out the patentable novelty which he or she thinks the claims present in view of the state of the art disclosed by the references cited or the objections made. Further, they do not show how the amendments avoid such references or objections.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

¶ 7.37.13    Unpersuasive Argument: Arguing Against References Individually

In response to applicant’s arguments against the references individually, one cannot show nonobviousness by attacking references individually where the rejections are based on combinations of references. See In re Keller, 642 F.2d 413, 208 USPQ 871 (CCPA 1981); In re Merck & Co., 800 F.2d 1091, 231 USPQ 375 (Fed. Cir. 1986).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.37.

707.07(g)   Piecemeal Examination

Piecemeal examination should be avoided as much as possible. The examiner ordinarily should reject each claim on all valid grounds available, avoiding, however, undue multiplication of references. (See MPEP § 904.03.) Rejections on grounds such as lack of proper disclosure, lack of enablement, indefiniteness and res judicata should be applied where appropriate even though there may be a seemingly sufficient rejection on the basis of prior art. Where a non-prior art ground of rejection is proper, it should be stated with a full development of reasons rather than by a mere conclusion coupled with a boiler plate expression.

Certain technical rejections (e.g. negative limitations, indefiniteness) should not be made where the examiner, recognizing the limitations of the English language, is not aware of an improved manner of reciting the claimed invention.

Some situations exist where examination of an application appears best accomplished by limiting action on the claim thereof to a particular issue. These situations include the following:

  • (A) Where an application is too informal for a complete action on the merits. See MPEP § 702.01;
  • (B) Where there is an undue multiplicity of claims, and there has been no successful telephone request for election of a limited number of claims for full examination. See MPEP § 2173.05(n);
  • (C) Where there is a misjoinder of inventions and there has been no successful telephone request for election. See MPEP § 803, § 810, § 812.01;
  • (D) Where disclosure is directed to perpetual motion. See Ex parte Payne, 1904 C.D. 42, 108 O.G. 1049 (Comm’r Pat. 1903). However, in such cases, the best prior art readily available should be cited and its pertinency pointed out without specifically applying it to the claims.

On the other hand, a rejection on the grounds of res judicata, no prima facie showing for reissue, new matter, or inoperativeness (not involving perpetual motion) should be accompanied by rejection on all other available grounds.

707.07(h)   Notify of Inaccuracies in Amendment

See MPEP § 714, subsection II. G.

707.07(i)   Each Claim To Be Mentioned in Each Office Action

In every Office action, each pending claim should be mentioned by number, and its treatment or status given. Since a claim retains its original numeral throughout the prosecution of the application, its history through successive actions is thus easily traceable. Each action should include a summary of the status of all claims presented for examination. Form PTO-326 “Office Action Summary” should be used.

Claims retained after a restriction requirement (37 CFR 1.142) or election of species requirement (37 CFR 1.146) should be treated as set out in MPEP §§ 821 to 821.04(b).

See MPEP Chapter 2300 for treatment of claims in the application of losing party in interference.

The Index of Claims should be kept up to date as set forth in MPEP § 719.04.

707.07(j)   State When Claims Are Allowable

I.   INVENTOR FILED APPLICATIONS

When, during the examination of a pro se application it becomes apparent to the examiner that there is patentable subject matter disclosed in the application, the examiner should draft one or more claims for the applicant and indicate in his or her action that such claims would be allowed if incorporated in the application by amendment.

This practice will expedite prosecution and offer a service to individual inventors not represented by a registered patent attorney or agent. Although this practice may be desirable and is permissible in any case deemed appropriate by the examiner, it is especially useful in all cases where it is apparent that the applicant is unfamiliar with the proper preparation and prosecution of patent applications.

II.   ALLOWABLE EXCEPT AS TO FORM

When an application discloses patentable subject matter and it is apparent from the claims and applicant’s arguments that the claims are intended to be directed to such patentable subject matter, but the claims in their present form cannot be allowed because of defects in form or omission of a limitation, the examiner should not stop with a bare objection or rejection of the claims. The examiner’s action should be constructive in nature and, when possible, should offer a definite suggestion for correction. Further, an examiner’s suggestion of allowable subject matter may justify indicating the possible desirability of an interview to accelerate early agreement on allowable claims.

If the examiner is satisfied after the search has been completed that patentable subject matter has been disclosed and the record indicates that the applicant intends to claim such subject matter, the examiner may note in the Office action that certain aspects or features of the patentable invention have not been claimed and that if properly claimed such claims may be given favorable consideration.

If a claim is otherwise allowable but is dependent on a canceled claim or on a rejected claim, the Office action should state that the claim would be allowable if rewritten in independent form.

III.   EARLY ALLOWANCE OF CLAIMS

Where the examiner is satisfied that the prior art has been fully developed and some of the claims are clearly allowable, the allowance of such claims should not be delayed.

Form paragraphs 7.43, 7.43.01, and 7.43.02 may be used to indicate allowable subject matter.

¶ 7.43    Objection to Claims, Allowable Subject Matter

Claim [1] objected to as being dependent upon a rejected base claim, but would be allowable if rewritten in independent form including all of the limitations of the base claim and any intervening claims.

¶ 7.43.01    Allowable Subject Matter, Claims Rejected Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph, Independent Claim/Dependent Claim

Claim [1] would be allowable if rewritten or amended to overcome the rejection(s) under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd paragraph, set forth in this Office action.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph is to be used when (1) the noted independent claim(s) or (2) the noted dependent claim(s), which depend from an allowable claim, have been rejected solely on the basis of35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, and would be allowable if amended to overcome the rejection.

¶ 7.43.02    Allowable Subject Matter, Claims Rejected Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph, Dependent Claim

Claim [1] would be allowable if rewritten to overcome the rejection(s) under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd paragraph, set forth in this Office action and to include all of the limitations of the base claim and any intervening claims.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph is to be used only when the noted dependent claim(s), which depend from a claim that is rejected based on prior art, have been rejected solely on the basis of 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, and would be allowable if amended as indicated.

¶ 7.43.04    Suggestion of Allowable Drafted Claim(s), Pro Se

The following claim [1] drafted by the examiner and considered to distinguish patentably over the art of record in this application, [2] presented to applicant for consideration:

[3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert --is-- or --are--.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert complete text of suggested claim(s).

Form paragraph 7.97 may be used to indicate allowance of claims.

¶ 7.97    Claims Allowed

Claim [1] allowed.

707.07(k)   Numbering Paragraphs

It is good practice to number the paragraphs of the Office action consecutively. This facilitates their identification in the future prosecution of the application.

707.07(l)   Comment on Examples

The results of the tests and examples should not normally be questioned by the examiner unless there is reasonable basis for questioning the results. If the examiner questions the results, the appropriate claims should be rejected as being based on an insufficient disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112. In re Borkowski, 422 F.2d 904, 164 USPQ 642 (CCPA 1970). See MPEP § 2161 through § 2164.08(c) for a discussion of the written description and enablement requirements of 35 U.S.C 112, first paragraph. The applicant must reply to the rejection, for example, by providing the results of an actual test or example which has been conducted, or by providing relevant arguments that there is strong reason to believe that the result would be as predicted. Care should be taken that new matter is not entered into the application.

If questions are present as to operability or utility, consideration should be given to the applicability of a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101. See MPEP § 706.03(a) and § 2107et seq.

707.08   Reviewing and Initialing by Assistant Examiner [R-11.2013]

The full surname of the examiner who prepares the Office action will, in all cases, be typed at the end of the action. The name and telephone number of the examiner who should be called if the application is to be discussed or an interview arranged will also be provided in the Office action. Form paragraph 7.100, 7.101 or 7.102 should be used.

¶ 7.100    Name And Number of Examiner To Be Contacted

Any inquiry concerning this communication should be directed to [1] at telephone number [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph, form paragraph 7.101, or form paragraph 7.102 should be used at the conclusion of all actions.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the name of the examiner designated to be contacted first regarding inquiries about the Office action. This could be either the non-signatory examiner preparing the action or the signatory examiner.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert the individual area code and phone number of the examiner to be contacted.

¶ 7.101    Telephone Inquiry Contacts- Non 5/4/9 Schedule

Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner should be directed to [1] whose telephone number is [2]. The examiner can normally be reached on [3] from [4] to [5].

If attempts to reach the examiner by telephone are unsuccessful, the examiner’s supervisor, [6], can be reached on [7]. The fax phone number for the organization where this application or proceeding is assigned is 571-273-8300.

Information regarding the status of an application may be obtained from the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. Status information for published applications may be obtained from either Private PAIR or Public PAIR. Status information for unpublished applications is available through Private PAIR only. For more information about the PAIR system, see http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal. Should you have questions on access to the Private PAIR system, contact the Electronic Business Center (EBC) at 866-217-9197 (toll-free).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert your name.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert your individual area code and phone number.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert the days that you work every week, e.g. “Monday-Thursday” for an examiner off every Friday.
  • 4. In brackets 4 and 5, insert your normal duty hours, e.g. “6:30 AM - 5:00 PM.”
  • 5. In bracket 6, insert your SPE’s name.
  • 6. In bracket 7, insert your SPE’s area code and phone number.

¶ 7.102    Telephone Inquiry Contacts- 5/4/9 Schedule

Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner should be directed to [1] whose telephone number is [2]. The examiner can normally be reached on [3] from [4] to [5]. The examiner can also be reached on alternate [6].

If attempts to reach the examiner by telephone are unsuccessful, the examiner’s supervisor, [7], can be reached on [8]. The fax phone number for the organization where this application or proceeding is assigned is 571-273-8300.

Information regarding the status of an application may be obtained from the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. Status information for published applications may be obtained from either Private PAIR or Public PAIR. Status information for unpublished applications is available through Private PAIR only. For more information about the PAIR system, see http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal. Should you have questions on access to the Private PAIR system, contact the Electronic Business Center (EBC) at 866-217-9197 (toll-free).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert your name.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert your individual area code and phone number.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert the days that you work every week, e.g. “Monday-Thursday” for an examiner off on alternate Fridays.
  • 4. In brackets 4 and 5, insert your normal duty hours, e.g. “6:30 AM - 4:00 PM.”
  • 5. In bracket 6, insert the day in each pay-period that is your compressed day off, e.g. “Fridays” for an examiner on a 5/4/9 work schedule with the first Friday off.
  • 6. In bracket 7, insert your SPE’s name.
  • 7. In bracket 8, insert your SPE’s area code and phone number.

The surname or initials of the examiner who prepared the action and the date on which the action was prepared should appear at the end of the action. If this examiner does not have the authority to sign the action, he or she should initial as appropriate, and forward the action to the authorized signatory examiner for signing.

707.09   Signing by Primary or Other Authorized Examiner [R-11.2013]

The electronic signature of the Supervisory Patent Examiner, Primary or other authorized examiner is inserted to sign Office actions. All Office actions and other correspondence should be signed promptly.

707.10   Entry [R-11.2013]

The action, signed by the authorized examiner, is soft scanned into the IFW and a copy is given electronically or mailed to applicant.

707.11   Date [R-08.2012]

The mailing date should not be typed when the Office action is written, but should be stamped or printed on all copies of the action after it has been signed by the authorized signatory examiner and the copies are about to be mailed.

707.12   Mailing [R-11.2013]

Access to the examiner’s action is given electronically or copies are mailed after the original, initialed by the assistant examiner, if any, and signed by the authorized signatory examiner, has been soft scanned into the image file wrapper.

707.13   Returned Office Action [R-11.2013]

Office actions are sometimes returned to the Office because the United States Postal Service has not been able to deliver them. Upon receipt of the returned Office action, the Technology Center (TC) technical support staff will check the application file record to ensure that the Office action was mailed to the correct correspondence address. If the Office action was not mailed to the correct correspondence address, it should be stamped “remailed” with the remailing date and mailed to the correct correspondence address. The period running against the application begins with the date of remailing. If the Office action was mailed to the correct correspondence address and it was addressed to an attorney or agent, a letter along with a copy of the Office action may be sent to the applicant, or the first named inventor if more than one inventor is the applicant, informing the applicant of the returned action. The time period for reply to the Office action will be restarted to run from the mailing date of the letter informing applicant of the returned action .

A copy of the letter and a copy of the envelope should be added to the IFW. If the period dating from the remailing elapses with no communication from applicant, the application is abandoned.

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Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:36