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808    Reasons for Insisting Upon Restriction [R-08.2012]

Every requirement to restrict has two aspects: (A) the reasons (as distinguished from the mere statement of conclusion) why each inventionas claimed is either independent or distinct from the other(s); and (B) the reasons why there would be a serious burden on the examiner if restriction is not required, i.e., the reasons for insisting upon restriction therebetween as set forth in the following sections.

808.01   Reasons for Holding of Independence or Distinctness [R-08.2012]

The particular reasons relied on by the examiner for holding that the inventions as claimed are either independent or distinct should be concisely stated. A mere statement of conclusion is inadequate. The reasons upon which the conclusion is based should be given.

For example, relative to a combination and a subcombination thereof, the examiner should point out the reasons why he or she considers the subcombination to have utility by itself or in other combinations, and why he or she considers that the combination as claimed does not require the particulars of the subcombination as claimed.

Each relationship of claimed inventions should be similarly treated and the reasons for the conclusions of distinctness or independence set forth. Form paragraphs 8.01, 8.02, and 8.14 - 8.20.02 may be used as appropriate to explain why the inventions as claimed are independent or distinct. See MPEP § 806.05 - § 806.06.

808.01(a)   Species

Where there is no disclosure of a relationship between species (see MPEP § 806.04(b)), they are independent inventions. A requirement for restriction is permissible if there is a patentable difference between the species as claimed and there would be a serious burden on the examiner if restriction is not required. See MPEP § 803 and § 808.02.

Where there is a relationship disclosed between species, such disclosed relation must be discussed and reasons advanced leading to the conclusion that the disclosed relation does not prevent restriction, in order to establish the propriety of restriction.

When a requirement for restriction between either independent or distinct species is made, applicant must elect a single disclosed species even if applicant disagrees with the examiner’s restriction requirement.

Election of species should not be required between claimed species that are considered clearly unpatentable (obvious) over 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.

Election of species may be required prior to a search on the merits (A) in applications containing claims to a plurality of species with no generic claims, and (B) in applications containing both species claims and generic or Markush claims.

In applications where only generic claims are presented, restriction cannot be required unless the generic claims recite or encompass such a multiplicity of species that an unduly extensive and burdensome search would be necessary to search the entire scope of the claim. See MPEP § 803.02 and § 809.02(a). If applicant presents species claims to more than one patentably distinct species of the invention after an Office action on only generic claims, with no restriction requirement, the Office may require the applicant to elect a single species for examination.

In all applications where a generic claim is found allowable, the application should be treated as indicated in MPEP § 809 and § 821.04(a). See MPEP § 803.02 and § 809.02(a) for guidance regarding how to require restriction between species.

808.02   Establishing Burden [R-08.2012]

Where, as disclosed in the application, the several inventions claimed are related, and such related inventions are not patentably distinct as claimed, restriction under 35 U.S.C. 121 is never proper (MPEP § 806.05). If applicant voluntarily files claims to such related inventions in different applications, double patenting may be held.

Where the inventions as claimed are shown to be independent or distinct under the criteria of MPEP § 806.05(c) - § 806.06, the examiner, in order to establish reasons for insisting upon restriction, must explain why there would be a serious burden on the examiner if restriction is not required. Thus the examiner must show by appropriate explanation one of the following:

  • (A) Separate classification thereof: This shows that each invention has attained recognition in the art as a separate subject for inventive effort, and also a separate field of search. Patents need not be cited to show separate classification.
  • (B) A separate status in the art when they are classifiable together: Even though they are classified together, each invention can be shown to have formed a separate subject for inventive effort when the examiner can show a recognition of separate inventive effort by inventors. Separate status in the art may be shown by citing patents which are evidence of such separate status, and also of a separate field of search.
  • (C) A different field of search: Where it is necessary to search for one of the inventions in a manner that is not likely to result in finding art pertinent to the other invention(s) (e.g., searching different classes/subclasses or electronic resources, or employing different search queries, a different field of search is shown, even though the two are classified together. The indicated different field of search must in fact be pertinent to the type of subject matter covered by the claims. Patents need not be cited to show different fields of search.

Where, however, the classification is the same and the field of search is the same and there is no clear indication of separate future classification and field of search, no reasons exist for dividing among independent or related inventions.

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