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806    Determination of Distinctness or Independence of Claimed Inventions [R-08.2012]

The general principles relating to distinctness or independence may be summarized as follows:

  • (A) Where inventions are independent (i.e., no disclosed relation therebetween), restriction to one thereof is ordinarily proper, MPEP § 806.06.
  • (B) Where inventions are related as disclosed but are distinct as claimed, restriction may be proper.
  • (C) Where inventions are related as disclosed but are not distinct as claimed, restriction is never proper.
  • (D) A reasonable number of species may be claimed when there is an allowable claim generic thereto. 37 CFR 1.141, MPEP § 806.04.

Where restriction is required by the Office double patenting cannot be held, and thus, it is imperative the requirement should never be made where related inventions as claimed are not distinct. For (B) and (C) see MPEP § 806.05 - § 806.05(j) and § 809.03. See MPEP § 802.01 for criteria for patentably distinct inventions.

806.01   Compare Claimed Subject Matter [R-08.2012]

In passing upon questions of double patenting and restriction, it is the claimed subject matter that is considered and such claimed subject matter must be compared in order to determine the question of distinctness or independence. However, a provisional election of a single species may be required where only generic claims are presented and the generic claims recite such a multiplicity of species that an unduly extensive and burdensome search is necessary. See MPEP § 803.02 and § 808.01(a).

806.02   [Reserved]

806.03   Single Embodiment, Claims Defining Same Essential Features [R-08.2012]

Where the claims of an application define the same essential characteristics of a single disclosed embodiment of an invention, restriction therebetween should never be required. This is because the claims are not directed to distinct inventions; rather they are different definitions of the same disclosed subject matter, varying in breadth or scope of definition.

Where such claims are voluntarily presented in different applications having at least one common inventor or a common assignee (i.e., no restriction requirement was made by the Office), disclosing the same embodiments, see MPEP § 804 - § 804.02.

806.04   Genus and/or Species Inventions [R-08.2012]

Where an application includes claims directed to different embodiments or species that could fall within the scope of a generic claim, restriction between the species may be proper if the species are independent or distinct. However, 37 CFR 1.141 provides that an allowable generic claim may link a reasonable number of species embraced thereby. The practice is set forth in 37 CFR 1.146.

37 C.F.R. 1.146   Election of species.

In the first action on an application containing a generic claim to a generic invention (genus) and claims to more than one patentably distinct species embraced thereby, the examiner may require the applicant in the reply to that action to elect a species of his or her invention to which his or her claim will be restricted if no claim to the genus is found to be allowable. However, if such application contains claims directed to more than a reasonable number of species, the examiner may require restriction of the claims to not more than a reasonable number of species before taking further action in the application.

See MPEP § 806.04(d) for the definition of a generic claim, and MPEP § 806.04(e) for a discussion of claims that include one or more species.

806.04(a)   [Reserved]

806.04(b)   Species May Be Independent or Related Inventions

Species may be either independent or related under the particular disclosure. Where species under a claimed genus are not connected in any of design, operation, or effect under the disclosure, the species are independent inventions. See MPEP § 802.01 and § 806.06. Where inventions as disclosed and claimed are both (A) species under a claimed genus and (B) related, then the question of restriction must be determined by both the practice applicable to election of species and the practice applicable to other types of restrictions such as those covered in MPEP § 806.05 - § 806.05(j). If restriction is improper under either practice, it should not be required.

For example, two different subcombinations usable with each other may each be a species of some common generic invention. If so, restriction practice under election of species and the practice applicable to restriction between combination and subcombinations must be addressed.

As a further example, species of carbon compounds may be related to each other as intermediate and final product. Thus, these species are not independent and in order to sustain a restriction requirement, distinctness must be shown. Distinctness is proven if the intermediate and final products do not overlap in scope and are not obvious variants and it can be shown that the intermediate product is useful other than to make the final product. Otherwise, the disclosed relationship would preclude their being issued in separate patents. See MPEP § 806.05(j) for restriction practice pertaining to related products, including intermediate-final product relationships.

806.04(c)   [Reserved]

806.04(d)   Definition of a Generic Claim

In an application presenting three species illustrated, for example, in Figures 1, 2, and 3, respectively, a generic claim should read on each of these views; but the fact that a claim does so read is not conclusive that it is generic. It may define only an element or subcombination common to the several species.

In general, a generic claim should require no material element additional to those required by the species claims, and each of the species claims must require all the limitations of the generic claim.

Once a generic claim is allowable, all of the claims drawn to species in addition to the elected species which require all the limitations of the generic claim will ordinarily be allowable over the prior art in view of the allowability of the generic claim, since the additional species will depend thereon or otherwise require all of the limitations thereof. When all or some of the claims directed to one of the species in addition to the elected species do not require all the limitations of the generic claim, see MPEP § 821.04(a).

806.04(e)   Claims Limited to Species

Claims are definitions or descriptions of inventions. Claims themselves are never species. The scope of a claim may be limited to a single disclosed embodiment (i.e., a single species, and thus be designated a specific species claim). Alternatively, a claim may encompass two or more of the disclosed embodiments (and thus be designated a generic or genus claim).

Species always refer to the different embodiments of the invention.

Species may be either independent or related as disclosed (see MPEP § 806.04 and § 806.04(b)).

806.04(f)   Restriction Between Mutually Exclusive Species

Where two or more species are claimed, a requirement for restriction to a single species may be proper if the species are mutually exclusive. Claims to different species are mutually exclusive if one claim recites limitations disclosed for a first species but not a second, while a second claim recites limitations disclosed only for the second species and not the first. This may also be expressed by saying that to require restriction between claims limited to species, the claims must not overlap in scope.

806.04(g)   [Reserved]

806.04(h)   Species Must Be Patentably Distinct From Each Other

In making a requirement for restriction in an application claiming plural species, the examiner should group together species considered clearly unpatentable over each other.

Where generic claims are allowable, applicant may claim in the same application additional species as provided by 37 CFR 1.141. See MPEP § 806.04. Where an applicant files a divisional application claiming a species previously claimed but nonelected in the parent case pursuant to and consonant with a requirement to restrict a double patenting rejection of the species claim(s) would be prohibited under 35 U.S.C. 121. See MPEP § 821.04(a) for rejoinder of species claims when a generic claim is allowable.

Where, however, claims to a different species, or a species disclosed but not claimed in a parent case as filed and first acted upon by the examiner, are voluntarily presented in a different application having at least one common inventor or a common assignee (i.e., no requirement for election pertaining to said species was made by the Office) there should be close investigation to determine whether a double patenting rejection would be appropriate. See MPEP § 804.01 and § 804.02.

806.04(i)   Generic Claims Presented After Issue of Species

If a generic claim is presented after the issuance of a patent claiming one or more species within the scope of the generic claim, the Office may reject the generic claim on the grounds of obviousness-type double patenting when the patent and application have at least once common inventor and/or are either (1) commonly assigned/owned or (2) non-commonly assigned/owned but subject to a joint research agreement as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2) and (3). See MPEP § 804. Applicant may overcome such a rejection by filing a terminal disclaimer. See In re Goodman, 11 F.3d 1046, 1053, 29 USPQ2d 2010, 2016 (Fed. Cir. 1993);In re Braithwaite, 379 F.2d 594, 154 USPQ 29 (CCPA 1967).

806.05   Related Inventions [R-08.2012]

Where two or more related inventions are claimed, the principal question to be determined in connection with a requirement to restrict or a rejection on the ground of double patenting is whether or not the inventions as claimed are distinct. If they are distinct, restriction may be proper. If they are not distinct, restriction is never proper. If nondistinct inventions are claimed in separate applications or patents, double patenting must be held, except where the additional applications were filed consonant with a requirement to restrict.

Various pairs of related inventions are noted in the following sections. In applications claiming inventions in different statutory categories, only one-way distinctness is generally needed to support a restriction requirement. See MPEP § 806.05(c) (combination and subcombination) and § 806.05(j) (related products or related processes) for examples of when a two-way test is required for distinctness. Related inventions in the same statutory class are considered mutually exclusive, or not overlapping in scope, if a first invention would not infringe a second invention, and the second invention would not infringe the first invention

806.05(a)   Combination and Subcombination

A combination is an organization of which a subcombination or element is a part.

806.05(b)   [Reserved]

806.05(c)   Criteria of Distinctness Between Combination and Subcombination

To support a requirement for restriction between combination and subcombination inventions, both two-way distinctness and reasons for insisting on restriction are necessary, i.e., there would be a serious search burden if restriction were not required as evidenced by separate classification, status, or field of search. See MPEP § 808.02.

The inventions are distinct if it can be shown that a combination as claimed:

  • (A) does not require the particulars of the subcombination as claimed for patentability (to show novelty and unobviousness), and
  • (B) the subcombination can be shown to have utility either by itself or in another materially different combination.

When these factors cannot be shown, such inventions are not distinct.

The following examples are included for general guidance.

I.   SUBCOMBINATION ESSENTIAL TO COMBINATION

  ABsp/Bsp No Restriction

Where a combination as claimed requires the details of a subcombination as separately claimed, there is usually no evidence that combination ABsp is patentable without the details of Bsp. The inventions are not distinct and a requirement for restriction must not be made or maintained, even if the subcombination has separate utility. This situation can be diagrammed as combination ABsp (“sp” is an abbreviation for “specific”), and subcombination Bsp. Thus the specific characteristics required by the subcombination claim Bsp are also required by the combination claim. See MPEP § 806.05(d) for situations where two or more subcombinations are separately claimed.

II.   SUBCOMBINATION NOT ESSENTIAL TO COMBINATION

  A. ABbr/Bsp Restriction Proper

Where a combination as claimed does not require the details of the subcombination as separately claimed and the subcombination has separate utility, the inventions are distinct and restriction is proper if reasons exist for insisting upon the restriction, i.e., there would be a serious search burden if restriction were not required as evidenced by separate classification, status, or field of search.

This situation can be diagramed as combination ABbr (“br” is an abbreviation for “broad”), and subcombination Bsp (“sp” is an abbreviation for “specific”). Bbr indicates that in the combination the subcombination is broadly recited and that the specific characteristics required by the subcombination claim Bsp are not required by the combination claim.

Since claims to both the subcombination and combination are presented, the omission of details of the claimed subcombination Bsp in the combination claim ABbr is evidence that the combination does not rely upon the specific limitations of the subcombination for its patentability. If subcombination Bsp has separate utility, the inventions are distinct and restriction is proper if reasons exist for insisting upon the restriction.

In applications claiming plural inventions capable of being viewed as related in two ways, for example, as both combination-subcombination and also as species under a claimed genus, both applicable criteria for distinctness must be demonstrated to support a restriction requirement. See also MPEP § 806.04(b).

Form paragraph 8.15 may be used in combination-subcombination restriction requirements.

¶ 8.15    Combination-Subcombination

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as combination and subcombination. Inventions in this relationship are distinct if it can be shown that (1) the combination as claimed does not require the particulars of the subcombination as claimed for patentability, and (2) that the subcombination has utility by itself or in other combinations (MPEP § 806.05(c)). In the instant case, the combination as claimed does not require the particulars of the subcombination as claimed because [3]. The subcombination has separate utility such as [4].

The examiner has required restriction between combination and subcombination inventions. Where applicant elects a subcombination, and claims thereto are subsequently found allowable, any claim(s) depending from or otherwise requiring all the limitations of the allowable subcombination will be examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. See MPEP § 821.04(a). Applicant is advised that if any claim presented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, a claim that is allowable in the present application, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both combination(s) and subcombination(s) (MPEP § 806.05(c)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, specify the limitations of the claimed subcombination that are not required by the claimed combination, or the evidence that supports the conclusion that the combination does not rely upon the specific details of the subcombination for patentability. See MPEP § 806.05(c), subsection II and § 806.05(d).
  • 3. In bracket 4, suggest utility other than used in the combination.
  • 4. Conclude restriction requirement with one of form paragraphs 8.21.

The burden is on the examiner to suggest an example of separate utility. If applicant proves or provides an argument, supported by facts, that the utility suggested by the examiner cannot be accomplished, the burden shifts to the examiner to document a viable separate utility or withdraw the requirement.

  B. ABsp/ABbr/Bsp Restriction Proper

The presence of a claim to combination ABsp does not alter the propriety of a restriction requirement properly made between combination ABbr and subcombination Bsp. Claim ABbr is an evidence claim which indicates that the combination does not rely upon the specific details of the subcombination for its patentability. If a restriction requirement can be properly made between combination ABbr and subcombination Bsp, any claim to combination ABsp would be grouped with combination ABbr.

If the combination claims are amended after a restriction requirement such that each combination, as claimed, requires all the limitations of the subcombination as claimed, i.e., if the evidence claim ABbr is deleted or amended to require Bsp, the restriction requirement between the combination and subcombination should not be maintained.

If a claim to Bsp is determined to be allowable, any claims requiring Bsp, including any combination claims of the format ABsp, must be considered for rejoinder. See MPEP § 821.04.

III.   PLURAL COMBINATIONS REQUIRING A SUBCOMBINATION COMMON TO EACH COMBINATION

When an application includes a claim to a single subcombination, and that subcombination is required by plural claimed combinations that are properly restrictable, the subcombination claim is a linking claim and will be examined with the elected combination (see MPEP § 809.03). The subcombination claim links the otherwise restrictable combination inventions and should be listed in form paragraph 8.12. The claimed plural combinations are evidence that the subcombination has utility in more than one combination. Restriction between plural combinations may be made using form paragraph 8.14.01. See MPEP § 806.05(j).

806.05(d)   Subcombinations Usable Together

Two or more claimed subcombinations, disclosed as usable together in a single combination, and which can be shown to be separately usable, are usually restrictable when the subcombinations do not overlap in scope and are not obvious variants.

To support a restriction requirement where applicant separately claims plural subcombinations usable together in a single combination and claims a combination that requires the particulars of at least one of said subcombinations, both two-way distinctness and reasons for insisting on restriction are necessary. Each subcombination is distinct from the combination as claimed if:

  • (A) the combination does not require the particulars of the subcombination as claimed for patentability (e.g., to show novelty and unobviousness), and
  • (B) the subcombination can be shown to have utility either by itself or in another materially different combination.

    See MPEP § 806.05(c). Furthermore, restriction is only proper when there would be a serious burden if restriction were not required, as evidenced by separate classification, status, or field of search.

Where claims to two or more subcombinations are presented along with a claim to a combination that includes the particulars of at least two subcombinations, the presence of the claim to the second subcombination is evidence that the details of the first subcombination are not required for patentability (and vice versa). For example, if an application claims ABC/B/C wherein ABC is a combination claim and B and C are each subcombinations that are properly restrictable from each other, the presence of a claim to C provides evidence that the details of B are not required for the patentability of combination ABC.

Upon determining that all claims directed to an elected combination invention are allowable, the examiner must reconsider the propriety of the restriction requirement. Where the combination is allowable in view of the patentability of at least one of the subcombinations, the restriction requirement between the elected combination and patentable subcombination(s) will be withdrawn; furthermore, any subcombinations that were searched and determined to be allowable must also be rejoined. If a subcombination is elected and determined to be allowable, nonelected claims requiring all the limitations of the allowable claim will be rejoined in accordance with MPEP § 821.04.

Form paragraph 8.16 may be used in restriction requirements between subcombinations.

¶ 8.16    Subcombinations, Usable Together

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as subcombinations disclosed as usable together in a single combination. The subcombinations are distinct if they do not overlap in scope and are not obvious variants, and if it is shown that at least one subcombination is separately usable. In the instant case subcombination [3] has separate utility such as [4]. See MPEP § 806.05(d).

The examiner has required restriction between subcombinations usable together. Where applicant elects a subcombination and claims thereto are subsequently found allowable, any claim(s) depending from or otherwise requiring all the limitations of the allowable subcombination will be examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. See MPEP § 821.04(a) . Applicant is advised that if any claim presented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, a claim that is allowable in the present application, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to subcombinations usable together (MPEP § 806.05(d)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert the appropriate group number or identify the subcombination.
  • 3. In bracket 4, suggest utility other than with the other subcombination.
  • 4. Conclude restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.

The examiner must show, by way of example, that one of the subcombinations has utility other than in the disclosed combination.

Care must be taken to determine if the subcombinations are generically claimed.

Where subcombinations as disclosed and claimed are both (a) species under a claimed genus and (b) related, then the question of restriction must be determined by both the practice applicable to election of species and the practice applicable to related inventions. If restriction is improper under either practice, it should not be required (MPEP § 806.04(b)).

If applicant proves or provides an argument, supported by facts, that the other use, suggested by the examiner, cannot be accomplished or is not reasonable, the burden is on the examiner to document a viable alternative use or withdraw the requirement.

806.05(e)   Process and Apparatus for Its Practice

Process and apparatus for its practice can be shown to be distinct inventions, if either or both of the following can be shown: (A) that the process as claimed can be practiced by another materially different apparatus or by hand; or (B) that the apparatus as claimed can be used to practice another materially different process.

Form paragraph 8.17 may be used to make restriction requirements between process and apparatus.

¶ 8.17    Process and Apparatus

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as process and apparatus for its practice. The inventions are distinct if it can be shown that either: (1) the process as claimed can be practiced by another materially different apparatus or by hand, or (2) the apparatus as claimed can be used to practice another materially different process. (MPEP § 806.05(e)). In this case [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both a process and apparatus for its practice (MPEP § 806.05(e)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, use one or more of the following reasons:
    • --the process as claimed can be practiced by another materially different apparatus such as......--,
    • --the process as claimed can be practiced by hand--,
    • --the apparatus as claimed can be used to practice another materially different process such as......--.
  • 3. A process can be practiced by hand if it can be performed without using any apparatus.
  • 4. Conclude restriction requirement with one of form paragraphs 8.21.
  • 5. All restriction requirements between a process and an apparatus (or product) for practicing the process should be followed by form paragraph 8.21.04 to notify the applicant that if an apparatus claim is found allowable, process claims that depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of the patentable apparatus may be rejoined.

The burden is on the examiner to provide reasonable examples that recite material differences.

If applicant proves or provides convincing argument that there is no material difference or that a process cannot be performed by hand (if examiner so argued), the burden is on the examiner to document another materially different process or apparatus or withdraw the requirement.

806.05(f)   Process of Making and Product Made

A process of making and a product made by the process can be shown to be distinct inventions if either or both of the following can be shown: (A) that the process as claimed is not an obvious process of making the product and the process as claimed can be used to make another materially different product; or (B) that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different process.

Allegations of different processes or products need not be documented.

A product defined by the process by which it can be made is still a product claim (In re Bridgeford, 357 F.2d 679, 149 USPQ 55 (CCPA 1966)) and can be restricted from the process if the examiner can demonstrate that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different process; defining the product in terms of a process by which it is made is nothing more than a permissible technique that applicant may use to define the invention.

If applicant convincingly traverses the requirement, the burden shifts to the examiner to document a viable alternative process or product, or withdraw the requirement.

Form paragraphs 8.18 and 8.21.04 should be used in restriction requirements between product and process of making.

¶ 8.18    Product and Process of Making

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as process of making and product made. The inventions are distinct if either or both of the following can be shown: (1) that the process as claimed can be used to make another materially different product or (2) that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different process (MPEP § 806.05(f)). In the instant case [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both a product and the process of making the product (MPEP § 806.05(f)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, use one or more of the following reasons:
    • --the process as claimed can be used to make a materially different product such as......--,
    • --the product as claimed can be made by a materially different process such as......--.
  • 3. Conclude the basis for the restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.
  • 4. All restriction requirements between a product and a process of making the product should be followed by form paragraph 8.21.04 to notify the applicant that if a product claim is found allowable, process claims that depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of the patentable product may be rejoined.

¶ 8.21.04    Notice of Potential Rejoinder of Process Claims

The examiner has required restriction between product and process claims. Where applicant elects claims directed to the product/apparatus, and all product/apparatus claims are subsequently found allowable, withdrawn process claims that include all the limitations of the allowable product/apparatus claims should be considered for rejoinder. All claims directed to a nonelected process invention must include all the limitations of an allowable product/apparatus claim for that process invention to be rejoined.

In the event of rejoinder, the requirement for restriction between the product/apparatus claims and the rejoined process claims will be withdrawn, and the rejoined process claims will be fully examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. Thus, to be allowable, the rejoined claims must meet all criteria for patentability including the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103 and 112. Until all claims to the elected product/apparatus are found allowable, an otherwise proper restriction requirement between product/apparatus claims and process claims may be maintained. Withdrawn process claims that are not commensurate in scope with an allowable product/apparatus claim will not be rejoined. See MPEP § 821.04. Additionally, in order for rejoinder to occur, applicant is advised that the process claims should be amended during prosecution to require the limitations of the product/apparatus claims. Failure to do so may result in no rejoinder. Further, note that the prohibition against double patenting rejections of 35 U.S.C. 121 does not apply where the restriction requirement is withdrawn by the examiner before the patent issues. See MPEP § 804.01.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should appear at the end of any requirement for restriction between a process and a product/apparatus for practicing the process (see form paragraph 8.17), a product/apparatus and a process of making the product/apparatus (see form paragraph 8.18) or between a product/apparatus and a process of using the product/apparatus (see form paragraph 8.20). See MPEP § 821.04 for rejoinder practice.

806.05(g)   Apparatus and Product Made

An apparatus and a product made by the apparatus can be shown to be distinct inventions if either or both of the following can be shown: (A) that the apparatus as claimed is not an obvious apparatus for making the product and the apparatus as claimed can be used to make another materially different product; or (B) that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different apparatus.

Form paragraph 8.19 may be used for restriction requirements between apparatus and product made.

¶ 8.19    Apparatus and Product Made

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as apparatus and product made. The inventions in this relationship are distinct if either or both of the following can be shown: (1) that the apparatus as claimed is not an obvious apparatus for making the product and the apparatus can be used for making a materially different product or (2) that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different apparatus (MPEP § 806.05(g)). In this case [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both the apparatus and product made (MPEP § 806.05(g)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, use one or more of the following reasons:
    • --the apparatus as claimed is not an obvious apparatus for making the product and the apparatus as claimed can be used to make a different product such as......--,
    • --the product can be made by a materially different apparatus such as......--.
  • 3. Conclude restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.

The examiner must show by way of example either (A) that the apparatus as claimed is not an obvious apparatus for making the product and the apparatus as claimed can be used to make another materially different product or (B) that the product as claimed can be made by another materially different apparatus.

The burden is on the examiner to provide an example, but the example need not be documented.

If applicant either proves or provides convincing argument that the alternative example suggested by the examiner is not workable, the burden is on the examiner to suggest another viable example or withdraw the restriction requirement.

806.05(h)   Product and Process of Using

A product and a process of using the product can be shown to be distinct inventions if either or both of the following can be shown: (A) the process of using as claimed can be practiced with another materially different product; or (B) the product as claimed can be used in a materially different process.

The burden is on the examiner to provide an example, but the example need not be documented.

If the applicant either proves or provides a convincing argument that the alternative use suggested by the examiner cannot be accomplished, the burden is on the examiner to support a viable alternative use or withdraw the requirement.

Form paragraphs 8.20 and 8.21.04 should be used in restriction requirements between the product and method of using.

¶ 8.20    Product and Process of Using

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as product and process of use. The inventions can be shown to be distinct if either or both of the following can be shown: (1) the process for using the product as claimed can be practiced with another materially different product or (2) the product as claimed can be used in a materially different process of using that product. See MPEP § 806.05(h). In the instant case [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both the product and process of using the product (MPEP § 806.05(h). If claims to a process specially adapted for (i.e., not patentably distinct from) making the product are also presented such process of making claims should be grouped with the product invention. See MPEP § 806.05(i).
  • 2. In bracket 3, use one or more of the following reasons:
    • --the process as claimed can be practiced with another materially different product such as......--,
    • --the product as claimed can be used in a materially different process such as......--.
  • 3. Conclude the basis for the restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.
  • 4. All restriction requirements between a product and a process of using the product should be followed by form paragraph 8.21.04 to notify the applicant that if a product claim is found allowable, process claims that depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of the patentable product may be rejoined.

¶ 8.21.04    Notice of Potential Rejoinder of Process Claims

The examiner has required restriction between product and process claims. Where applicant elects claims directed to the product/apparatus, and all product/apparatus claims are subsequently found allowable, withdrawn process claims that include all the limitations of the allowable product/apparatus claims should be considered for rejoinder. All claims directed to a nonelected process invention must include all the limitations of an allowable product/apparatus claim for that process invention to be rejoined.

In the event of rejoinder, the requirement for restriction between the product/apparatus claims and the rejoined process claims will be withdrawn, and the rejoined process claims will be fully examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. Thus, to be allowable, the rejoined claims must meet all criteria for patentability including the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103 and 112. Until all claims to the elected product/apparatus are found allowable, an otherwise proper restriction requirement between product/apparatus claims and process claims may be maintained. Withdrawn process claims that are not commensurate in scope with an allowable product/apparatus claim will not be rejoined. See MPEP § 821.04. Additionally, in order for rejoinder to occur, applicant is advised that the process claims should be amended during prosecution to require the limitations of the product/apparatus claims. Failure to do so may result in no rejoinder. Further, note that the prohibition against double patenting rejections of 35 U.S.C. 121 does not apply where the restriction requirement is withdrawn by the examiner before the patent issues. See MPEP § 804.01.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph should appear at the end of any requirement for restriction between a process and a product/apparatus for practicing the process (see form paragraph 8.17), a product/apparatus and a process of making the product/apparatus (see form paragraph 8.18) or between a product/apparatus and a process of using the product/apparatus (see form paragraph 8.20). See MPEP § 821.04 for rejoinder practice.

806.05(i)   Product, Process of Making, and Process of Using

37 C.F.R. 1.141   Different inventions in one national application.

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  • (b) Where claims to all three categories, product, process of making, and process of use, are included in a national application, a three way requirement for restriction can only be made where the process of making is distinct from the product. If the process of making and the product are not distinct, the process of using may be joined with the claims directed to the product and the process of making the product even though a showing of distinctness between the product and process of using the product can be made.

Where an application contains claims to a product, claims to a process specially adapted for (i.e., not patentably distinct from, as defined in MPEP § 806.05(f)) making the product, and claims to a process of using the product, applicant may be required to elect either (A) the product and process of making it; or (B) the process of using. If the examiner cannot make a showing of distinctness between the process of using and the product (MPEP § 806.05(h)), restriction cannot be required.

Form paragraph 8.20 (See MPEP § 806.05(h)) may be used in product, process of making and process of using situations where the product cannot be restricted from the process of making the product.

See MPEP § 821.04(b) for rejoinder practice pertaining to product and process inventions.

806.05(j)   Related Products; Related Processes

To support a requirement for restriction between two or more related product inventions, or between two or more related process inventions, both two-way distinctness and reasons for insisting on restriction are necessary, i.e., separate classification, status in the art, or field of search. See MPEP § 808.02. See MPEP § 806.05(c) for an explanation of the requirements to establish two-way distinctness as it applies to inventions in a combination/subcombination relationship. For other related product inventions, or related process inventions, the inventions are distinct if

  • (A) the inventions as claimed do not overlap in scope, i.e., are mutually exclusive;
  • (B) the inventions as claimed are not obvious variants; and
  • (C) the inventions as claimed are either not capable of use together or can have a materially different design, mode of operation, function, or effect. See MPEP § 802.01.

The burden is on the examiner to provide an example to support the determination that the inventions are distinct, but the example need not be documented. If applicant either proves or provides convincing evidence that the example suggested by the examiner is not workable, the burden is on the examiner to suggest another viable example or withdraw the restriction requirement.

As an example, an intermediate product and a final product can be shown to be distinct inventions if the intermediate and final products are mutually exclusive inventions (not overlapping in scope) that are not obvious variants, and the intermediate product as claimed is useful to make other than the final product as claimed. Typically, the intermediate loses its identity in the final product. See also MPEP § 806.05(d) for restricting between combinations disclosed as usable together. See MPEP § 809 - § 809.03 if a generic claim or claim linking multiple products or multiple processes is present.

Form paragraph 8.14.01 may be used to restrict between related products or related processes; form paragraph 8.14 may be used in intermediate-final product restriction requirements; form paragraph 8.16 may be used to restrict between subcombinations.

¶ 8.14.01    Distinct Products or Distinct Processes

Inventions [1] and [2] are directed to related [3]. The related inventions are distinct if: (1) the inventions as claimed are either not capable of use together or can have a materially different design, mode of operation, function, or effect; (2) the inventions do not overlap in scope, i.e., are mutually exclusive; and (3) the inventions as claimed are not obvious variants. See MPEP § 806.05(j). In the instant case, the inventions as claimed [4]. Furthermore, the inventions as claimed do not encompass overlapping subject matter and there is nothing of record to show them to be obvious variants.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph may be used when claims are presented to two or more related product inventions, or two or more related process inventions, wherein the inventions as claimed are mutually exclusive, i.e., there is no product (or process) that would infringe both of the identified inventions. Use form paragraph 8.15 to restrict between combination(s) and subcombination(s).
  • 2. If a generic claim or claim linking multiple product inventions or multiple process inventions is present, see MPEP § 809 - § 809.03.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert --products -- or --processes--.
  • 4. In bracket 4, explain why the inventions as claimed are either not capable of use together or can have a materially different design, mode of operation, function, or effect.
  • 5. Conclude restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.

¶ 8.14    Intermediate-Final Product

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as mutually exclusive species in an intermediate-final product relationship. Distinctness is proven for claims in this relationship if the intermediate product is useful to make other than the final product and the species are patentably distinct (MPEP § 806.05(j)). In the instant case, the intermediate product is deemed to be useful as [3] and the inventions are deemed patentably distinct because there is nothing of record to show them to be obvious variants.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to both an intermediate and final product (MPEP § 806.05(j)).
  • 2. Conclude restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.

¶ 8.16    Subcombinations, Usable Together

Inventions [1] and [2] are related as subcombinations disclosed as usable together in a single combination. The subcombinations are distinct if they do not overlap in scope and are not obvious variants, and if it is shown that at least one subcombination is separately usable. In the instant case subcombination [3] has separate utility such as [4]. See MPEP § 806.05(d).

The examiner has required restriction between subcombinations usable together. Where applicant elects a subcombination and claims thereto are subsequently found allowable, any claim(s) depending from or otherwise requiring all the limitations of the allowable subcombination will be examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. See MPEP § 821.04(a) . Applicant is advised that if any claim presented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, a claim that is allowable in the present application, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used when claims are presented to subcombinations usable together (MPEP § 806.05(d)).
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert the appropriate group number or identify the subcombination.
  • 3. In bracket 4, suggest utility other than with the other subcombination.
  • 4. Conclude restriction requirement with form paragraph 8.21.

806.06   Independent Inventions [R-08.2012]

Inventions as claimed are independent if there is no disclosed relationship between the inventions, that is, they are unconnected in design, operation, and effect. If it can be shown that two or more inventions are independent, and if there would be a serious burden on the examiner if restriction is not required, applicant should be required to restrict the claims presented to one of such independent inventions. For example:

  • (A) Two different combinations, not disclosed as capable of use together, having different modes of operation, different functions and different effects are independent. An article of apparel and a locomotive bearing would be an example. A process of painting a house and a process of boring a well would be a second example.
  • (B) Where the two inventions are process and apparatus, and the apparatus cannot be used to practice the process or any part thereof, they are independent. A specific process of molding is independent from a molding apparatus that cannot be used to practice the specific process.

Form paragraph 8.20.02 may be used to restrict between independent, unrelated inventions. Form paragraph 8.20.03 may be used to restrict between an unrelated product and process.

¶ 8.20.02    Unrelated Inventions

Inventions [1] and [2] are unrelated. Inventions are unrelated if it can be shown that they are not disclosed as capable of use together, and they have different designs, modes of operation, and effects. (MPEP § 802.01 and MPEP § 806.06). In the instant case, the different inventions [3] .

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used only when claims are presented to unrelated inventions, e. g., a necktie and a locomotive bearing not disclosed as capable of use together.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert reasons for concluding that the inventions are unrelated.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be followed by form paragraph 8.21.

¶ 8.20.03    Unrelated Product and Process Inventions

Inventions [1] and [2] are directed to an unrelated product and process. Product and process inventions are unrelated if it can be shown that the product cannot be used in, or made by, the process. See MPEP § 802.01 and § 806.06. In the instant case, [3] .

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, insert reasons for concluding that the inventions are unrelated.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be followed by form paragraph 8.21.

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