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Notice

Clarification of Patent Regulations Currently in Effect, and Revision in Applicability Date of Provisions Relating to Patent Applications Containing Patentably Indistinct Claims

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AGENCY:

United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is publishing this notice to clarify which patent-related regulations are currently in effect. The USPTO is identifying the applicability date of those regulatory provisions relating to applications containing patentably indistinct claims which are enjoined in Tafas v. Dudas, 530 F. Supp. 2d 786 (E.D. Va. 2008). Should the injunction be lifted, those regulations will apply only to applications filed on or after any new effective date that would be published by the USPTO in the future.

DATES:

Effective Date: August 7, 2008.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The Office of Patent Legal Administration, by telephone at (571) 272-7704, or by e-mail at PatentPractice@uspto.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In 2007, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a final rule revising the rules of practice in patent cases in title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) relating to continuing applications and requests for continued examination practices, and for the examination of claims in patent applications. See Changes to Practice for Continued Examination Filings, Patent Applications Containing Patentably Indistinct Claims, and Examination of Claims in Patent Applications, 72 FR 46716 (Aug. 21, 2007), 1322 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 76 (Sept. 11, 2007) (Claims and Continuations Final Rule).

The Claims and Continuations Final Rule amended existing 37 CFR 1.17(f), 1.26(a) and (b), 1.52(d)(2), 1.53(b) and (c)(4), 1.75(b) and (c), 1.76(b)(5), 1.78, 1.104(a)(1) and (b), 1.110, 1.114(a) and (d), 1.136(a)(1), 1.142(a), 1.145, and 1.495(g), and added new 37 CFR 1.105(a)(1)(ix), 1.114(f), (g), and (h), 1.117, 1.142(c), 1.265, and 1.704(c)(11).

With respect to 37 CFR 1.704(c)(11), the Claims and Continuations Final Rule redesignated existing 37 CFR 1.704(c)(11) as 37 CFR 1.704(c)(12) and added a new 37 CFR 1.704(c)(11).

The changes in the Claims and Continuations Final Rule were permanently enjoined by the district court in Tafas v. Dudas, 530 F. Supp. 2d 786 (E.D. Va. 2008). That decision is currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The provisions of 37 CFR 1.17(f), 1.26(a) and (b), 1.52(d)(2), 1.53(b) and (c)(4), 1.75(b) and (c), 1.76(b)(5), 1.78, 1.104(a)(1) and (b), 1.110, 1.114(a) and (d), 1.136(a)(1), 1.142(a), 1.145, 1.495(g), and 1.704(c)(11) in effect as of August 7, 2008 are the provisions of 37 CFR 1.17(f), 1.26(a) and (b), 1.52(d)(2), 1.53(b) and (c)(4), 1.75(b) and (c), 1.76(b)(5), 1.78, 1.104(a)(1) and (b), 1.110, 1.114(a) and (d), 1.136(a)(1), 1.142(a), 1.145, 1.495(g), and 1.704(c)(11) in effect on October 31, 2007, and may be found in the July 2007 Start Printed Page 46000Revision of the Code of Federal Regulations.

The provisions 37 CFR 1.105(a)(1)(ix), 1.114(f), (g), and (h), 1.117, 1.142(c), 1.265, and 1.704(c)(11) as added by the Claims and Continuations Final Rule are not in effect as of August 7, 2008.

The USPTO anticipates that it will be some time before the litigation concerning the Claims and Continuations Final Rule is finally resolved. The USPTO is concerned that some applicants may be taking preparatory action anticipating the new requirements of 37 CFR 1.78(f)(1) and (2), as added by the Claims and Continuations Final Rule, due to the possibility that the injunction by the district court in Tafas will be removed. The purpose of this notice is to aid applicants who might otherwise feel the need to take such preparatory actions by identifying the applicability date of the provisions of 37 CFR 1.78(f) in the event that the injunction by the district court in Tafas is removed. Specifically, the changes in 37 CFR 1.78(f)(1) and (f)(2) will only apply to applications filed on or after any new effective date that would be published by the USPTO after the removal of the injunction. Thus, in the event the referenced injunction is lifted, applicants will only need to comply with the identification requirements of 37 CFR 1.78(f)(1) in applications having an actual filing date on or after this new effective date. Likewise applicants will only have to identify other commonly owned applications that satisfy the conditions set forth in 37 CFR 1.78(f)(1)(i) in applications that have a filing date on or after this new effective date. Similarly, the rebuttable presumption of 37 CFR 1.78(f)(2) will only apply to applications having an actual filing date on or after the effective date. Furthermore, the rebuttable presumption will only exist with respect to an application that satisfies the conditions set forth in 37 CFR 1.78(f)(2)(i) and also has a filing date on or after this new effective date.

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Dated: August 1, 2008.

Jon W. Dudas,

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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[FR Doc. E8-18224 Filed 8-6-08; 8:45 am]

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