New Patent Office Rule Changes

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The patent office is working towards implementing changes in its rules for limiting continuations and number of claims examined. The final version of the changed rules will be available in the Federal Register which will be published after a few days.

Excerpt from the internal e-mail –

OMB Approves Claims and Continuation Changes

On July 9, 2007, the Office of Management and Budget concluded its review of the Continuations and Claims rule changes. The final rules will be made public when they are published in the Federal Register, which is expected to be later this summer. The rules will become effective at least 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and no earlier than October 1, 2007.

The abstracts of the rules currently available on the Federal Regulatory Information Web site here and here reflect the abstracts of the Continuations and Claims notices of proposed rule -making that were published in January, 2006.

An internal USPTO team is currently working on details of implementing the rule changes. Examiners and managers will be given information and training on the new rules once they are published in the Federal Register. Additionally, management is currently discussing with POPA the appropriate process for negotiating any impacts the rules package may have.

These changes would permit the Office to use the patent examining resources presently absorbed by applications that contain a disproportionate number of claims to the examination of new applications. This would allow the Office to reduce the backlog of unexamined applications. It would help ease the burden on the patent office and increase the efficiency of the whole process in the face of a major increase in the number of patent applications over the past few years, led by a surge in medical technology patent applications.

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