Thursday, April 12, 2007

USPTO Submits Modified Continuation Rules for Approval

Apparently, the death of USPTO continuation rule changes has been greatly exaggerated. Reports are coming out that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is ready to issue "final rules" on changing continuation application practice. Charles Van Horn provides the following report on Patently-O:

USPTO Commissioner for Patents John Doll announced today at a DC Bar meeting that the final rules on continuation and designated claims practices are at OMB (Office of Management and Budget) for approval. The final rules were logged in on April 10 and OMB is expected to complete its review in 90 days, but frequently grants itself an extension of time. The final IDS rules were said to be on the desk of Director Dudas for approval, and will follow the other two packages to OMB in due course. So at this point in time, July-August would be an approximation for publication of the final rules, with 30 days (based on previous PTO statements) to implementation. No details of the final rules were disclosed.

Commissioner Doll has acknowledged that the overwhelmingly negative responses from the patent bar has forced the Office to "modify" the rules. While the office has been mum about the specific "modifications," some of the rumored changes include (1) increasing the number of continuation applications, and/or providing exemptions for RCE's, (2) changing the "representative claim" proposal for initial examination, and (3) changing the rule that all divisional applications be filed at the same time to retain the initial priority date.

Of course, the USPTO has chosen to forego public comment on the modified changes, so there is reason to suspect that these changes will be just as odious the initial proposal.

Commissioner Doll is scheduled to address the American Bar Association's Intellectual Property Section meeting in Washington over the next three days (April 12-14, Arlington VA).

See earlier 271 Blog Post and continuation rule changes here.

See USPTO FAQ page on proposed changes here.

See Report from the Intellectual Property Owner's Association here.

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