uspto.gov
Skip over navigation

809    Linking Claims [R-08.2012]

There are a number of situations which arise in which an application has claims to two or more properly divisible inventions, so that a requirement to restrict the claims of the application to one would be proper, but presented in the same case are one or more claims (generally called "linking" claims) which, if allowable, would require rejoinder of the otherwise divisible inventions. See MPEP § 821.04 for information pertaining to rejoinder practice.

Linking claims and the inventions they link together are usually either all directed to products or all directed to processes (i.e., a product claim linking properly divisible product inventions, or a process claim linking properly divisible process inventions). The most common types of linking claims which, if allowable, act to prevent restriction between inventions that can otherwise be shown to be divisible, are

  • (A) genus claims linking species claims; and
  • (B) subcombination claims linking plural combinations.

Where an application includes claims to distinct inventions as well as linking claims, restriction can nevertheless be required.

The linking claims must be examined with, and thus are considered part of, the invention elected. When all claims directed to the elected invention are allowable, should any linking claim be allowable, the restriction requirement between the linked inventions must be withdrawn. Any claim(s) directed to the nonelected invention(s), previously withdrawn from consideration, which depends from or requires all the limitations of the allowable linking claim must be rejoined and will be fully examined for patentability. Where the requirement for restriction in an application is predicated upon the nonallowability of generic or other type of linking claims, applicant is entitled to retain in the application claims to the nonelected invention or inventions. Where such withdrawn claims have been canceled by applicant pursuant to the restriction requirement, upon the allowance of the linking claim(s), the examiner must notify applicant that any canceled, nonelected claim(s) which depends from or requires all the limitations of the allowable linking claim may be reinstated by submitting the claim(s) in an amendment. Upon entry of the amendment, the amended claim(s) will be fully examined for patentability. See MPEP § 821.04 for additional information regarding rejoinder.

809.01   [Reserved]

809.02   [Reserved]

809.02(a)   Election of Species Required

Where restriction between species is appropriate (see MPEP § 808.01(a)) the examiner should send a letter including only a restriction requirement or place a telephone requirement to restrict (the latter being encouraged). See MPEP § 812.01 for telephone practice in restriction requirements.

Action as follows should be taken:

  • (A) Identify generic claims or indicate that no generic claims are present. See MPEP § 806.04(d) for definition of a generic claim.
  • (B) Clearly identify each (or in aggravated cases at least exemplary ones) of the disclosed species, to which claims are to be restricted. The species are preferably identified as the species of figures 1, 2, and 3 or the species of examples I, II, and III, respectively. In the absence of distinct figures or examples to identify the several species, the mechanical means, the particular material, or other distinguishing characteristic of the species should be stated for each species identified. If the species cannot be conveniently identified, the claims may be grouped in accordance with the species to which they are restricted. Provide reasons why the species are independent or distinct.
  • (C) Applicant should then be required to elect a single disclosed species under 35 U.S.C. 121, and advised as to the requisites of a complete reply and his or her rights under 37 CFR 1.141.

To be complete, a reply to a requirement made according to this section should include a proper election along with a listing of all claims readable thereon, including any claims subsequently added.

In those applications wherein a requirement for restriction is accompanied by an action on the elected claims, such action will be considered to be an action on the merits and the next action may be made final where appropriate in accordance with MPEP § 706.07(a).

For treatment of claims held to be drawn to nonelected inventions, see MPEP § 821et seq.

¶ 8.01    Election of Species; Species Claim(s) Present

This application contains claims directed to the following patentably distinct species [1]. The species are independent or distinct because [2].

Applicant is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to elect a single disclosed species for prosecution on the merits to which the claims shall be restricted if no generic claim is finally held to be allowable. Currently, [3] generic.

There is a search and/or examination burden for the patentably distinct species as set forth above because at least the following reason(s) apply: [4].

Applicant is advised that the reply to this requirement to be complete must include (i) an election of a species to be examined even though the requirement may be traversed (37 CFR 1.143) and (ii) identification of the claims encompassing the elected species or grouping of patentably indistinct species, including any claims subsequently added. An argument that a claim is allowable or that all claims are generic is considered nonresponsive unless accompanied by an election.

The election may be made with or without traverse. To preserve a right to petition, the election must be made with traverse. If the reply does not distinctly and specifically point out supposed errors in the election of species requirement, the election shall be treated as an election without traverse. Traversal must be presented at the time of election in order to be considered timely. Failure to timely traverse the requirement will result in the loss of right to petition under 37 CFR 1.144. If claims are added after the election, applicant must indicate which of these claims are readable on the elected species or grouping of patentably indistinct species.

Should applicant traverse on the ground that the species, or groupings of patentably indistinct species from which election is required, are not patentably distinct, applicant should submit evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing them to be obvious variants or clearly admit on the record that this is the case. In either instance, if the examiner finds one of the species unpatentable over the prior art, the evidence or admission may be used in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) of the other species.

Upon the allowance of a generic claim, applicant will be entitled to consideration of claims to additional species which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable generic claim as provided by 37 CFR 1.141.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, identify the species and/or grouping(s) of patentably indistinct species from which an election is to be made. The species may be identified as the species of figures 1, 2, and 3, for example, or the species of examples I, II, and III, respectively. Where the election requirement identifies a grouping of patentably indistinct species, applicant should not be required to elect a specific species within that grouping.
  • 2. In bracket 2 insert the reason(s) why the species or grouping(s) of species are independent or distinct. See MPEP § 806.04(b), § 806.04(f) and § 806.04(h). For example, insert --the claims to the different species recite the mutually exclusive characteristics of such species--, and provide a description of the mutually exclusive characteristics of each species or grouping of species.
  • 3. In bracket 3 insert the appropriate generic claim information.
  • 4. In bracket 4 insert the applicable reason(s) why there is a search and/or examination burden:
    • --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species have acquired a separate status in the art in view of their different classification
    • --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species have acquired a separate status in the art due to their recognized divergent subject matter

    --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species require a different field of search (e.g., searching different classes/subclasses or electronic resources, or employing different search strategies or search queries).

  • 5. This form paragraph does not need to be followed by form paragraph 8.21.

¶ 8.02    Requiring an Election of Species; No Species Claim Present

Claim(s) [1] is/are generic to the following disclosed patentably distinct species: [2]. The species are independent or distinct because [3]. In addition, these species are not obvious variants of each other based on the current record.

Applicant is required under 35 U.S.C. 121 to elect a single disclosed species, or a single grouping of patentably indistinct species, for prosecution on the merits to which the claims shall be restricted if no generic claim is finally held to be allowable.

There is a search and/or examination burden for the patentably distinct species as set forth above because at least the following reason(s) apply: [4]

Applicant is advised that the reply to this requirement to be complete must include (i) an election of a species or a grouping of patentably indistinct species to be examined even though the requirement may be traversed (37 CFR 1.143) and (ii) identification of the claims encompassing the elected species or grouping of patentably indistinct species, including any claims subsequently added. An argument that a claim is allowable or that all claims are generic is considered nonresponsive unless accompanied by an election.

The election may be made with or without traverse. To preserve a right to petition, the election must be made with traverse. If the reply does not distinctly and specifically point out supposed errors in the election of species requirement, the election shall be treated as an election without traverse. Traversal must be presented at the time of election in order to be considered timely. Failure to timely traverse the requirement will result in the loss of right to petition under 37 CFR 1.144. If claims are added after the election, applicant must indicate which of these claims are readable on the elected species or grouping of patentably indistinct species.

Should applicant traverse on the ground that the species, or groupings of patentably indistinct species from which election is required, are not patentably distinct, applicant should submit evidence or identify such evidence now of record showing them to be obvious variants or clearly admit on the record that this is the case. In either instance, if the examiner finds one of the species unpatentable over the prior art, the evidence or admission may be used in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) of the other species.

Upon the allowance of a generic claim, applicant will be entitled to consideration of claims to additional species which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable generic claim as provided by 37 CFR 1.141.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used for the election of species requirement described in MPEP § 803.02 (Markush group) and MPEP § 808.01(a) where only generic claims are presented.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s).
  • 3. In bracket 2, clearly identify the species and/or grouping(s) of patentably indistinct species from which an election is to be made. The species may be identified as the species of figures 1, 2, and 3, for example, or the species of examples I, II, and III, respectively. Where the election requirement identifies a grouping of patentably indistinct species, applicant should not be required to elect a specific species within that grouping.
  • 4. In bracket 3 insert the reason(s) why the species or groupings of species as disclosed are independent or distinct. See MPEP § 806.04(b), § 806.04(f) and MPEP § 806.04(h). For example, insert --as disclosed the different species have mutually exclusive characteristics for each identified species--, and provide a description of the mutually exclusive characteristics of each species or grouping of species.
  • 5. In bracket 4 insert the applicable reason(s) why there is a search and/or examination burden:
    • --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species have acquired a separate status in the art in view of their different classification
    • --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species have acquired a separate status in the art due to their recognized divergent subject matter

    --the species or groupings of patentably indistinct species require a different field of search (e.g., searching different classes/subclasses or electronic resources, or employing different search strategies or search queries).

  • 6. This form paragraph does not need to be followed by form paragraph 8.21.

809.03   Restriction Between Linked Inventions [R-08.2012]

Where an application includes two or more otherwise properly divisible inventions that are linked by a claim which, if allowable, would require rejoinder (See MPEP § 809 and § 821.04), the examiner should require restriction, either by a written Office action that includes only a restriction requirement or by a telephoned requirement to restrict (the latter being encouraged). Examiners should use form paragraph 8.12 to make restrictions involving linking claims when the linking claim is other than a genus claim linking species inventions. When the linking claim is a genus claim linking species inventions, examiners should use form paragraph 8.01 or 8.02 (see MPEP § 809.02(a)).

¶ 8.12    Restriction, Linking Claims

Claim [1] link(s) inventions [2] and [3]. The restriction requirement [4] the linked inventions is subject to the nonallowance of the linking claim(s), claim [5]. Upon the indication of allowability of the linking claim(s), the restriction requirement as to the linked inventions shall be withdrawn and any claim(s) depending from or otherwise requiring all the limitations of the allowable linking claim(s) will be rejoined and fully examined for patentability in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104. Claims that require all the limitations of an allowable linking claim will be entered as a matter of right if the amendment is presented prior to final rejection or allowance, whichever is earlier. Amendments submitted after final rejection are governed by 37 CFR 1.116; amendments submitted after allowance are governed by 37 CFR 1.312.

Applicant(s) are advised that if any claimpresented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, the allowable linking claim, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Where a restriction requirement is withdrawn, the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 121 are no longer applicable. In re Ziegler, 443 F.2d 1211, 1215, 170 USPQ 129, 131-32 (CCPA 1971). See also MPEP § 804.01.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be included in any restriction requirement with at least one linking claim present.
  • 2. In bracket 4, insert either --between-- or --among--.
  • 3. In bracket 5, insert the claim number(s) of the linking claims.
  • 4. See related form paragraphs 8.45, 8.46 and 8.47.

Where the requirement for restriction in an application is predicated upon the nonallowability of generic or other type of linking claims, applicant is entitled to retain in the application claims to the nonelected invention or inventions.

For traverse of a restriction requirement with linking claims, see MPEP § 818.03(d).

For treatment of claims held to be drawn to nonelected inventions, see MPEP § 821et seq.

[top]

 

United States Patent and Trademark Office
This page is owned by Patents.
Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:36