INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
NATIONAL LEGISLATION - USA
Patent Laws and Regulations
Regulations: Title 37, Chapter I (Subchapter A,
Parts 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 15a and Subchapter B); Chapter IV and Chapter V,
Code of Federal Regulations
37 C.F.R. § 1.515 Determination of the request for reexamination.
(a) Within three months following the filing date of a request for reexamination, an examiner will consider the request and determine whether or not a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent is raised by the request and the prior art cited therein, with or without consideration of other patents or printed publications. The examiner's determination will be based on the claims in effect at the time of the determination and will become a part of the official file of the patent and will be given or mailed to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) and to the person requesting reexamination.
(b) Where no substantial new question of patentability has been found, a refund of a portion of the fee for requesting reexamination will be made to the requester in accordance with § 1.26(c).
(c) The requester may seek review by a petition to the Commissioner under § 1.181 within one month of the mailing date of the examiner's determination refusing reexamination. Any such petition must comply with § 1.181(b). If no petition is timely filed or if the decision on petition affirms that no substantial new question of patentability has been raised, the determination shall be final and nonappealable.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.520 Reexamination at the initiative of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner, at any time during the period of enforceability of a patent, may determine whether or not a substantial new question of patentability is raised by patents or printed publications which have been discovered by the Commissioner or which have been brought to the Commissioner's attention even though no request for reexamination has been filed in accordance with § 1.510. The Commissioner may initiate reexamination without a request for reexamination pursuant to § 1.510. Normally requests from outside the Patent and Trademark Office that the Commissioner undertake reexamination on his own initiative will not be considered. Any determination to initiate reexamination under this section will become a part of the official file of the patent and will be given or mailed to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c).
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.525 Order to reexamine.
(a) If a substantial new question of patentability is found pursuant to § 1.515 or § 1.520, the determination will include an order for reexamination of the patent for resolution of the question. If the order for reexamination resulted from a petition pursuant to § 1.515(c), the reexamination will ordinarily be conducted by an examiner other than the examiner responsible for the initial determination under § 1.515(a).
(b) If the order for reexamination of the patent mailed to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) is returned to the Office undelivered, the notice published in the Official Gazette under § 1.11(c) will be considered to be constructive notice and reexamination will proceed.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.530 Statement; amendment by patent owner.
(a) Except as provided in § 1.510(e), no statement or other response by the patent owner shall be filed prior to the determinations made in accordance with §§ 1.515 or 1.520. If a premature statement or other response is filed by the patent owner it will not be acknowledged or considered in making the determination.
(b) The order for reexamination will set a period of not less than two months from the date of the order within which the patent owner may file a statement on the new question of patentability including any proposed amendments the patent owner wishes to make.
(c) Any statement filed by the patent owner shall clearly point out why the subject matter as claimed is not anticipated or rendered obvious by the prior art patents or printed publications, either alone or in any reasonable combinations. Any statement filed must be served upon the reexamination requester in accordance with § 1.248.
(d) Amendments in reexamination proceedings. Amendments in reexamination proceedings are made by filing a paper, in compliance with paragraph (d)(5) of this section, directing that specified amendments be made.
(1) Specification other than the claims. Amendments to the specification, other than to the claims, may only be made as follows:
(i) Amendments must be made by submission of the entire text of a newly added or rewritten paragraph(s) with markings pursuant to paragraph (d)(1)(iii) of this section, except that an entire paragraph may be deleted by a statement deleting the paragraph without presentation of the text of the paragraph.
(ii) The precise point in the specification must be indicated where the paragraph to be amended is located.
(iii) Underlining below the subject matter added to the patent and brackets around the subject matter deleted from the patent are to be used to mark the amendments being made.
(2) Claims. Amendments to the claims may only be made as follows:
(A) The amendment must be made relative to the patent claims in accordance with paragraph (d)(8) of this section and must include the entire text of each claim which is being proposed to be amended by the current amendment and each proposed new claim being added by the current amendment with markings pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(i)(C) of this section, except that a patent claim or previously proposed new claim should be cancelled by a statement cancelling the patent claim or proposed new claim without presentation of the text of the patent claim or proposed new claim.
(B) Patent claims must not be renumbered and the numbering of any new claims proposed to be added to the patent must follow the number of the highest numbered patent claim.
(C) Underlining below the subject matter added to the patent and brackets around the subject matter deleted from the patent are to be used to mark the amendments being made. If a claim is amended pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(i)(A) of this section, a parenthetical expression “amended,” “twice amended,” etc., should follow the original claim number.
(ii) Each amendment submission must set forth the status (i.e., pending or cancelled) as of the date of the amendment, of all patent claims and of all new claims currently or previously proposed.
(iii) Each amendment, when submitted for the first time, must be accompanied by an explanation of the support in the disclosure of the patent for the amendment along with any additional comments on page(s) separate from the page(s) containing the amendment.
(3) No amendment may enlarge the scope of the claims of the patent or introduce new matter. No amendment may be proposed for entry in an expired patent. Moreover, no amendment will be incorporated into the patent by certificate issued after the expiration of the patent.
(4) Although the Office actions will treat proposed amendments as though they have been entered, the proposed amendments will not be effective until the reexamination certificate is issued.
(5) The form of amendments other than to the patent drawings must be in accordance with the following requirements. All amendments must be in the English language and must be legibly written either by a typewriter or mechanical printer in at least 11 point type in permanent dark ink or its equivalent in portrait orientation on flexible, strong, smooth, non-shiny, durable, white paper. All amendments must be presented in a form having sufficient clarity and contrast between the paper and the writing thereon to permit the direct reproduction of readily legible copies in any number by use of photographic, electrostatic, photo-offset, and microfilming processes and electronic reproduction by use of digital imaging or optical character recognition. If the amendments are not of the required quality, substitute typewritten or mechanically printed papers of suitable quality will be required. The papers, including the drawings, must have each page plainly written on only one side of a sheet of paper. The sheets of paper must be the same size and either 21.0 cm. by 29.7 cm. (DIN size A4) or 21.6 cm. by 27.9 cm. (8 1/2 by 11 inches). Each sheet must include a top margin of at least 2.0 cm. (3/4 inch), a left side margin of at least 2.5 cm. (1 inch), a right side margin of at least 2.0 cm. (3/4 inch), and a bottom margin of at least 2.0 cm. (3/4 inch), and no holes should be made in the sheets as submitted. The lines must be double spaced, or one and one-half spaced. The pages must be numbered consecutively, starting with 1, the numbers being centrally located, preferably below the text, or above the text.
(i) The original patent drawing sheets may not be altered. Any proposed change to the patent drawings must be by way of a new sheet of drawings with the amended figures identified as “amended” and with added figures identified as “new” for each sheet change submitted in compliance with § 1.84.
(ii) Where a change to the drawings is desired, a sketch in permanent ink showing proposed changes in red, to become part of the record, must be filed for approval by the examiner and should be in a separate paper.
(7) The disclosure must be amended, when required by the Office, to correct inaccuracies of description and definition and to secure substantial correspondence between the claims, the remainder of the specification, and the drawings.
(8) All amendments to the patent must be made relative to the patent specification, including the claims, and drawings, which is in effect as of the date of filing of the request for reexamination.
(e) [This paragraph was removed at 62 FR 53132, 53200, Oct. 10, 1997, effective Dec. 1, 1997.] Although the Office actions will treat proposed amendments as though they have been entered, the proposed amendments will not be effective until the reexamination certificate is issued.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981; 62 FR 53132, 53200, Oct. 10, 1997]
37 C.F.R. § 1.535 Reply by requester.
A reply to the patent owner's statement under § 1.530 may be filed by the reexamination requester within two months from the date of service of the patent owner's statement. Any reply by the requester must be served upon the patent owner in accordance with § 1.248. If the patent owner does not file a statement under § 1.530, no reply or other submission from the reexamination requester will be considered.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.540 Consideration of responses.
The failure to timely file or serve the documents set forth in § 1.530 or in § 1.535 may result in their being refused consideration. No submissions other than the statement pursuant to § 1.530 and the reply by the requester pursuant to § 1.535 will be considered prior to examination.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.550 Conduct of reexamination proceedings.
(a) All reexamination proceedings, including any appeals to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, will be conducted with special dispatch within the Office. After issuance of the reexamination order and expiration of the time for submitting any responses thereto, the examination will be conducted in accordance with §§ 1.104, 1.110 through 1.113 and 1.116, and will result in the issuance of a reexamination certificate under § 1.570.
(b) The patent owner will be given at least thirty days to respond to any Office action. Such response may include further statements in response to any rejections or proposed amendments or new claims to place the patent in a condition where all claims, if amended as proposed, would be patentable.
(c) The time for taking any action by a patent owner in a reexamination proceeding will be extended only for sufficient cause, and for a reasonable time specified. Any request for such extension must be filed on or before the day on which action by the patent owner is due, but in no case will the mere filing of the request effect any extension. See § 1.304(a) for extensions of time for filing a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or for commencing a civil action.
(d) If the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response to any Office action, the reexamination proceeding will be terminated and the Commissioner will proceed to issue a certificate under § 1.570 in accordance with the last action of the Office.
(e) The reexamination requester will be sent copies of Office actions issued during the reexamination proceeding. After filing of a request for reexamination by a third party requester, any document filed by either the patent owner or the third party requester must be served on the other party in the reexamination proceeding in the manner provided by § 1.248. The document must reflect service or the document may be refused consideration by the Office.
(1) The active participation of the reexamination requester ends with the reply pursuant to § 1.535, and no further submissions on behalf of the reexamination requester will be acknowledged or considered. Further, no submissions on behalf of any third parties will be acknowledged or considered unless such submissions are:
(i) In accordance with § 1.510; or
(ii) Entered in the patent file prior to the date of the order to reexamine pursuant to § 1.525.
(2) Submissions by third parties, filed after the date of the order to reexamine pursuant to § 1.525, must meet the requirements of and will be treated in accordance with § 1.501(a).
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981, as amended at 49 FR 556, Jan. 4, 1984; 49 FR 48455, Dec. 12, 1984; 54 FR 29553, July 13, 1989; 62 FR 53132, 53201, Oct. 10, 1997]
37 C.F.R. § 1.552 Scope of reexamination in reexamination proceedings.
(a) Patent claims will be reexamined on the basis of patents or printed publications.
(b) Amended or new claims presented during a reexamination proceeding must not enlarge the scope of the claims of the patent and will be examined on the basis of patents or printed publications and also for compliance with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112 and the new matter prohibition of 35 U.S.C. 132.
(c) Questions other than those indicated in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section will not be resolved in a reexamination proceeding. If such questions are discovered during a reexamination proceeding, the existence of such questions will be noted by the examiner in an Office action, in which case the patent owner may desire to consider the advisability of filing a reissue application to have such questions considered and resolved.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.555 Information material to patentability in reexamination proceedings.
(a) A patent by its very nature is affected with a public interest. The public interest is best served, and the most effective reexamination occurs when, at the time a reexamination proceeding is being conducted, the Office is aware of and evaluates the teachings of all information material to patentability in a reexamination proceeding. Each individual associated with the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding has a duty of candor and good faith in dealing with the Office, which includes a duty to disclose to the Office all information known to that individual to be material to patentability in a reexamination proceeding. The individuals who have a duty to disclose to the Office all information known to them to be material to patentability in a reexamination proceeding are the patent owner, each attorney or agent who represents the patent owner, and every other individual who is substantively involved on behalf of the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding. The duty to disclose the information exists with respect to each claim pending in the reexamination proceeding until the claim is cancelled. Information material to the patentability of a cancelled claim need not be submitted if the information is not material to patentability of any claim remaining under consideration in the reexamination proceeding. The duty to disclose all information known to be material to patentability in a reexamination proceeding is deemed to be satisfied if all information known to be material to patentability of any claim in the patent after issuance of the reexamination certificate was cited by the Office or submitted to the Office in an information disclosure statement. However, the duties of candor, good faith, and disclosure have not been complied with if any fraud on the Office was practiced or attempted or the duty of disclosure was violated through bad faith or intentional misconduct by, or on behalf of, the patent owner in the reexamination proceeding. Any information disclosure statement must be filed with the items listed in § 1.98(a) as applied to individuals associated with the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding, and should be filed within two months of the date of the order for reexamination, or as soon thereafter as possible.
(b) Under this section, information is material to patentability in a reexamination proceeding when it is not cumulative to information of record or being made of record in the reexamination proceeding, and
(1) It is a patent or printed publication that establishes, by itself or in combination with other patents or printed publications, a prima facie case of unpatentability of a claim; or
(2) It refutes, or is inconsistent with, a position the patent owner takes in:
(i) Opposing an argument of unpatentability relied on by the Office, or
(ii) Asserting an argument of patentability.
A prima facie case of unpatentability of a claim pending in a reexamination proceeding is established when the information compels a conclusion that a claim is unpatentable under the preponderance of evidence, burden-of-proof standard, giving each term in the claim its broadest reasonable construction consistent with the specification, and before any consideration is given to evidence which may be submitted in an attempt to establish a contrary conclusion of patentability.
(c) The responsibility for compliance with this section rests upon the individuals designated in paragraph (a) of this section and no evaluation will be made by the Office in the reexamination proceeding as to compliance with this section. If questions of compliance with this section are discovered during a reexamination proceeding, they will be noted as unresolved questions in accordance with § 1.552(c).
[57 FR 2036, Jan 17, 1992]
37 C.F.R. § 1.560 Interviews in reexamination proceedings.
(a) Interviews in reexamination proceedings pending before the Office between examiners and the owners of such patents or their attorneys or agents of record must be had in the Office at such times, within Office hours, as the respective examiners may designate. Interviews will not be permitted at any other time or place without the authority of the Commissioner. Interviews for the discussion of the patentability of claims in patents involved in reexamination proceedings will not be had prior to the first official action thereon. Interviews should be arranged for in advance. Requests that reexamination requesters participate in interviews with examiners will not be granted.
(b) In every instance of an interview with an examiner, a complete written statement of the reasons presented at the interview as warranting favorable action must be filed by the patent owner. An interview does not remove the necessity for response to Office actions as specified in § 1.111.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981]
37 C.F.R. § 1.565 Concurrent office proceedings.
(a) In any reexamination proceeding before the Office, the patent owner shall call the attention of the Office to any prior or concurrent proceedings in which the patent is or was involved such as interferences, reissue, reexaminations, or litigation and the results of such proceedings.
(b) If a patent in the process of reexamination is or becomes involved in litigation or a reissue application for the patent is filed or pending, the Commissioner shall determine whether or not to stay the reexamination or reissue proceeding.
(c) If reexamination is ordered while a prior reexamination proceeding is pending, the reexamination proceedings will be consolidated and result in the issuance of a single certificate under § 1.570.
(d) If a reissue application and a reexamination proceeding on which an order pursuant to § 1.525 has been mailed are pending concurrently on a patent, a decision will normally be made to merge the two proceedings or to stay one of the two proceedings. Where merger of a reissue application and a reexamination proceeding is ordered, the merged examination will be conducted in accordance with §§ 1.171 through 1.179 and the patent owner will be required to place and maintain the same claims in the reissue application and the reexamination proceeding during the pendency of the merged proceeding. The examiner's actions and any responses by the patent owner in a merged proceeding will apply to both the reissue application and the reexamination proceeding and be physically entered into both files. Any reexamination proceeding merged with a reissue application shall be terminated by the grant of the reissued patent.
(e) If a patent in the process of reexamination is or becomes involved in an interference, the Commissioner may stay reexamination or the interference. The Commissioner will not consider a request to stay an interference unless a motion (§ 1.635) to stay the interference has been presented to, and denied by, an examiner-in-chief and the request is filed within ten (10) days of a decision by an examiner-in-chief denying the motion for a stay or such other time as the examiner-in-chief may set.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 21753, May 19, 1982; 49 FR 48455, Dec. 12, 1984; 50 FR 23123, May 31, 1985]
37 C.F.R. § 1.570 Issuance of reexamination certificate after reexamination proceedings.
(a) Upon the conclusion of reexamination proceedings, the Commissioner will issue a certificate in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 307 setting forth the results of the reexamination proceeding and the content of the patent following the reexamination proceeding.
(b) A certificate will be issued in each patent in which a reexamination proceeding has been ordered under § 1.525. Any statutory disclaimer filed by the patent owner will be made part of the certificate.
(c) The certificate will be mailed on the day of its date to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c). A copy of the certificate will also be mailed to the requester of the reexamination proceeding.
(d) If a certificate has been issued which cancels all of the claims of the patent, no further Office proceedings will be conducted with regard to that patent or any reissue applications or reexamination requests relating thereto.
(e) If the reexamination proceeding is terminated by the grant of a reissued patent as provided in § 1.565(d) the reissued patent will constitute the reexamination certificate required by this section and 35 U.S.C. 307.
(f) A notice of the issuance of each certificate under this section will be published in the Official Gazette on its date of issuance.
[46 FR 29185, May 29, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 21753, May 19, 1982]
37 C.F.R. § 1.601 Scope of rules, definitions.
This subpart governs the procedure in patent interferences in the Patent and Trademark Office. This subpart shall be construed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every interference. For the meaning of terms in the Federal Rules of Evidence as applied to interferences, see § 1.671(c). Unless otherwise clear from the context, the following definitions apply to this subpart:
(a) Additional discovery is discovery to which a party may be entitled under § 1.687 in addition to discovery to which the party is entitled as a matter of right under § 1.673 (a) and (b).
(b) Affidavit means affidavit, declaration under § 1.68, or statutory declaration under 28 U.S.C. 1746. A transcript of an ex parte deposition may be used as an affidavit.
(c) Board means the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.
(d) Case-in-chief means that portion of a party's case where the party has the burden of going forward with evidence.
(e) Case-in-rebuttal means that portion of a party's case where the party presents evidence in rebuttal to the case-in-chief of another party.
(f) A count defines the interfering subject matter between two or more applications or between one or more applications and one or more patents. At the time the interference is initially declared, a count should be broad enough to encompass all of the claims that are patentable over the prior art and designated to correspond to the count. When there is more than one count, each count shall define a separate patentable invention. Any claim of an application or patent that is designated to correspond to a count is a claim involved in the interference within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 135(a). A claim of a patent or application that is designated to correspond to a count and is identical to the count is said to correspond exactly to the count. A claim of a patent or application that is designated to correspond to a count but is not identical to the count is said to correspond substantially to the count. When a count is broader in scope than all claims which correspond to the count, the count is a phantom count.
(g) The effective filing date of an application is the filing date of an earlier application, benefit of which is accorded to the application under 35 U.S.C. 119, 120, 121, or 365 or, if no benefit is accorded, the filing date of the application. The effective filing date of a patent is the filing date of an earlier application, benefit of which is accorded to the patent under 35 U.S.C. 119, 120, 121, or 365 or, if no benefit is accorded, the filing date of the application which issued as the patent.
(h) In the case of an application, filing date means the filing date assigned to the application. In the case of a patent, “filing date” means the filing date assigned to the application which issued as the patent.
(i) An interference is a proceeding instituted in the Patent and Trademark Office before the Board to determine any question of patentability and priority of invention between two or more parties claiming the same patentable invention. An interference may be declared between two or more pending applications naming different inventors when, in the opinion of an examiner, the applications contain claims for the same patentable invention. An interference may be declared between one or more pending applications and one or more unexpired patents naming different inventors when, in the opinion of an examiner, any application and any unexpired patent contain claims for the same patentable invention.
(j) An interference-in-fact exists when at least one claim of a party that is designated to correspond to a count and at least one claim of an opponent that is designated to correspond to the count define the same patentable invention.
(k) A lead attorney or agent is a registered attorney or agent of record who is primarily responsible for prosecuting an interference on behalf of a party and is the attorney or agent whom an administrative patent judge may contact to set times and take other action in the interference.
(l) A party is an applicant or patentee involved in the interference or a legal representative or an assignee of record in the Patent and Trademark Office of an applicant or patentee involved in an interference. Where acts of party are normally performed by an attorney or agent, “party” may be construed to mean the attorney or agent. An inventor is the individual named as inventor in an application involved in an interference or the individual named as inventor in a patent involved in an interference.
(m) A senior party is the party with the earliest effective filing date as to all counts or, if there is no party with the earliest effective filing date as to all counts, the party with the earliest filing date. A junior party is any other party.
(n) Invention “A” is the same patentable invention as an invention “B” when invention “A” is the same as (35 U.S.C. 102) or is obvious (35 U.S.C. 103) in view of invention “B” assuming invention “B” is prior art with respect to invention “A”. Invention “A” is a separate patentable invention with respect to invention “B” when invention “A” is new (35 U.S.C. 102) and non-obvious (35 U.S.C. 103) in view of invention “B” assuming invention “B” is prior art with respect to invention “A”.
(o) Sworn means sworn or affirmed.
(p) United States means the United States of America, its territories and possessions.
(q) A final decision is a decision awarding judgment as to all counts. An interlocutory order is any other action taken by an administrative patent judge or the Board in an interference, including the notice declaring an interference.
(r) NAFTA country means NAFTA country as defined in section 2(4) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2060 (19 U.S.C. 3301).
(s) WTO member country means WTO member country as defined in section 2(10) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Pub. L. 103-465, 108 Stat. 4813 (19 U.S.C. 3501).
[49 FR 48455, Dec. 12, 1984; 50 FR 23123, May 31, 1985; 58 FR 49434, Sept. 23, 1993; 60 FR 14519, Mar. 17, 1995]
Continuation: 37 C.F.R. § 1.602 Interest in
applications and patents involved in an interference.