Revisions and Technical Corrections Affecting Requirements for Ex Parte, 16072-16086 [06-2962]

Download as PDF 16072 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 165 as follows: DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS 37 CFR Parts 1 and 41 1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows: Authority: 33 U.S.C. 1226, 1231; 46 U.S.C. Chapter 701; 50 U.S.C. 191, 195; 33 CFR 1.05–1(g), 6.04–1, 6.04–6 and 160.5; Pub. L. 107–295, 116 Stat. 2064; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1. 2. Add Temporary § 165.T06–019, to read as follows: § 165.T06–019 Safety Zone: Broad Bay, Virginia Beach, VA. wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL (a) Location: The following area is a safety zone: All waters within 420 feet of the fireworks display at Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club on Broad Bay, Virginia beach, VA in the Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads zone as defined in 33 CFR § 3.25–10. (b) Definition: Captain of the Port: means any U.S. Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads, Virginia to act on his behalf. (c) Regulation: (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 165.23 of this part, entry into this zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads, VA, or his designated representatives. (2) The operator of any vessel in the immediate vicinity of this safety zone shall: (i) Stop the vessel immediately upon being directed to do so by any commissioned, warrant or petty officer on shore or on board a vessel that is displaying a U.S. Coast Guard Ensign. (ii) Proceed as directed by any commissioned, warrant or petty officer on shore or on board a vessel that is displaying a U.S. Coast Guard Ensign. (3) The Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads and the Sector Duty Officer at Sector Hampton Roads, Portsmouth, Virginia can be contacted at telephone Number (757) 668–5555 or (757) 484– 8192. (4) The Coast Guard Representatives enforcing the safety zone can be contacted on VHF–FM 13 and 16. (d) Effective date: This regulation is effective from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on July 4, 2006. Dated: March 10, 2006. John S. Kenyon, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, Alternate Captain of the Port, Hampton Roads. [FR Doc. E6–4610 Filed 3–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–15–P VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 Patent and Trademark Office [Docket No.: PTO–P–2005–0016] RIN 0651–AB77 Revisions and Technical Corrections Affecting Requirements for Ex Parte and Inter Partes Reexamination United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of proposed rule making. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is proposing changes to the rules of practice relating to ex parte and inter partes reexamination. The Office is proposing to provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. The Office is also proposing to prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of sufficient cause. The Office additionally proposes to designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correct address for all communications for patent owners in an ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination, and to simplify the filing of reexamination papers by providing for the use of a single ‘‘mail stop’’ address for the filing of substantially all ex parte reexamination papers (such is already the case for inter partes reexamination papers). The Office is further proposing to make miscellaneous clarifying changes as to terminology and applicability of the reexamination rules. Comment Deadline Date: To be ensured of consideration, written comments must be received on or before May 30, 2006. No public hearing will be held. ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent by electronic mail over the Internet addressed to: AB77.comments@uspto.gov. Comments may also be submitted by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments— Patents, Commissioner for Patents, PO Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450; or by facsimile to (571) 273–7710, marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor, Senior Legal Advisor. Although comments may be submitted by mail or facsimile, the Office prefers to receive comments via the Internet. If comments are submitted by mail, the Office prefers that the comments be submitted on a PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DOS formatted 31⁄2 inch disk accompanied by a paper copy. Comments may also be sent by electronic mail message over the Internet via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site (http:// www.regulations.gov) for additional instructions on providing comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The comments will be available for public inspection at the Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, currently located at Room MDW 07D74 of Madison West, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22313–1450, and will be available through anonymous file transfer protocol (ftp) via the Internet (address: http://www.uspto.gov). Since comments will be made available for public inspection, information that is not desired to be made public, such as an address or phone number, should not be included in the comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: By telephone—Kenneth M. Schor, at (571) 272–7710 or Robert J. Spar at (571) 272– 7700; by mail addressed to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Mail Stop Comments—Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450, marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor; by facsimile transmission to (571) 273–7710 marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor; or by electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to kenneth.schor@uspto.gov. The Office is proposing changes to the rules of practice relating to ex parte and inter partes as follows: Proposal I: To provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. Proposal II: To prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of sufficient cause. Proposal III: To designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correct address for all notices, official letters, and other communications for patent owners in an ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination. Also, to simplify the filing of reexamination papers by providing for the use of ‘‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam’’ for the filing of all ex parte reexamination papers (not just ex parte reexamination requests), other than certain correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules decision on the request is to decide whether reexamination should go forward at all, not to decide how any new question of patentability ultimately will be answered. The Patlex court supported the Office in this matter based upon the agency’s (Office’s) Discussion of Proposals I through IV expression of a need for administrative Proposal I. To Provide for a Patent convenience. Owner Reply to a Request for Recently, however, the Office Reexamination Prior to Decision on the initiated a program to process and Request: Since the inception of examine all new reexamination reexamination, a patent owner whose proceedings in one Central patent is challenged by a third party Reexamination Unit (the CRU). This is request for reexamination has not been expected to permit increased efficiency afforded an opportunity to comment on in deciding new requests for the request prior to the examiner’s reexamination to the point where a decision on the request. This is equally patent owner response to a request so for both ex parte reexamination and (prior to the examiner’s decision on the inter partes reexamination. Under request) can be accommodated, while § 1.530(a), ‘‘[e]xcept as provided in continuing to comply with the statutory § 1.510(e), no statement or other mandate to decide requests for response by the patent owner in an ex reexamination within three months. parte reexamination proceeding shall be Accordingly, the Office is proposing to filed prior to the determinations made provide for a patent owner reply to a in accordance with § 1.515 or § 1.520. If request for an ex parte reexamination or a premature statement or other response an inter partes reexamination prior to is filed by the patent owner, it will not the examiner’s decision on the request. be acknowledged or considered in Such a patent owner reply would making the determination.’’ Under address patentee concerns as to their § 1.540, ‘‘[n]o submissions other than current inability to address a request the statement pursuant to § 1.530 and prior to an order. Further, the patent the reply by the ex parte reexamination owner’s input could improve the requester pursuant to § 1.535 will be information/evidence and considered prior to examination.’’ understanding of the issues before the Under § 1.939(b), [u]nless otherwise examiner deciding the request. That authorized, no paper shall be filed prior input should serve the purpose of to the initial Office action on the merits reducing improper/unnecessary orders of the inter partes reexamination. and providing more timely patent owner The rule making history for § 1.530(a) responses on the record to third party addressed the Office’s rationale for the allegations. This proposal should enable regulatory prohibition of a patent owner the Office to be better able to weed out response to a request (prior to the those requests that do not raise a examiner’s decision on the request) in a substantial question of patentability, hearing report issued by the Office, prior to instituting a full-blown which stated that ‘‘several persons felt proceeding. Bringing the issues to light that the patent owner should be allowed earlier via such a patent owner response to comment before the decision [on the to the request should facilitate the request] under § 1.515 is made. reexamination process pursuant to Providing for such a comment would special dispatch. delay the decision under § 1.515 which As a final point, in order to address must be made within three months the statutory mandate to decide all * * *.’’ See Rules of Practice in Patent requests for reexamination within three Cases; Reexamination Proceedings, 46 months, the content and time for filing FR 29176, 29179 (May 29, 1981) (final the patent owner’s response (to the rule). In Patlex Corp. v. Mossinghoff, request) will be strictly limited. This 771 F.2d 480, 226 USPQ 985 (Fed. Cir. should enable the Office to comply with 1985), the propriety of the Office’s the statute, while obtaining the benefits regulatory prohibition of a patent owner of the patent owner’s comments prior to response to a request prior to the deciding the request. decision on the request was upheld by This proposal involves providing new the U.S. Court of Appeals for the sections § 1.512 and § 1.921, and Federal Circuit (hereinafter—the Federal revising § 1.510(b), § 1.515(a), § 1.530(a), Circuit). The Office argued in Patlex that § 1.915(b) and § 1.923. Proposal II. To Prohibit Supplemental this regulatory prohibition was adopted Patent Owner Responses to an Office in the interest of efficiency, in view of Action Without a Showing of Sufficient the three-month deadline set by Cause: The Office is proposing to amend Congress in 35 U.S.C. 303. The Office pointed out that the only purpose of the § 1.945 to provide that a patent owner wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Proposal IV: To make miscellaneous clarifying changes as to the terminology and applicability of the reexamination rules, and to correct inadvertent errors in the text of certain reexamination rules. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16073 supplemental response (which can be filed to address a third party requester’s comments on patent owner’s initial response to an Office action) will be entered only where the patent owner has made a showing of sufficient cause as to why the supplemental response should be entered. Pursuant to § 1.937(b), an inter partes reexamination proceeding is ‘‘conducted in accordance with §§ 1.104 through 1.116, the sections governing the application examination process * * * except as otherwise provided * * * ’’ Thus, a patent owner’s response to an Office action is governed by § 1.111. Prior to the revision of § 1.111(a)(2) implemented via the final rule, Changes To Support Implementation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 21st Century Strategic Plan, 69 FR 56482 (Sept. 21, 2004), 1287 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 67 (Oct. 12, 2004) (final rule), a patent owner could, in effect, file an unlimited number of supplemental responses to an Office action for an inter partes reexamination proceeding, thereby delaying prosecution. The changes to § 1.111(a)(2) made in the Strategic Plan final rule, in effect, addressed this undesirable consequence of the rules in inter partes reexamination by providing that a reply (or response, in reexamination) which is supplemental to a § 1.111(b) compliant reply will not be entered as a matter of right (with the exception of a supplemental reply filed while action by the Office is suspended under § 1.103(a) or (c)). Section 1.111(a)(2)(i), as implemented in the Strategic Plan final rule, however, also provides that ‘‘the Office may enter’’ a supplemental response to an Office action under certain conditions. Thus, a patent owner’s supplemental response that provides additional information, or one that further amends the claims, could be argued to ‘‘simplify the issues for appeal’’ and thereby satisfy § 1.111(a)(2)(i)(F), or the supplemental response might be limited to ‘‘cancellation of claims’’ (to satisfy § 1.111(a)(2)(i)(A)), or ‘‘adoption of the examiner suggestions’’ (to satisfy § 1.111(a)(2)(i)(B)). Even a supplemental response that answers the third party requester comments might, in some instances, be argued to ‘‘simplify the issues for appeal.’’ Whether or not the supplemental response should be entered is then a question to be decided by the Office. In order to fully inform both the Office and the requester (so that the requester can provide rebuttal in its comments) as to why patent owner deems a supplemental response to be E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL 16074 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules worthy of entry, it is proposed that the rules be revised to require a patent owner showing of sufficient cause why entry should be permitted to accompany any supplemental response by the patent owner. The showing of sufficient cause would be required to provide: (1) A detailed explanation of how the criteria of § 1.111(a)(2)(i) is satisfied; (2) an explanation of why the supplemental response could not have been presented together with the original response to the Office action; and (3) a compelling reason to enter the supplemental response. This proposal would permit the entry of a supplemental response to an Office action where there is a valid reason for it, and a showing to that effect is made by the patent owner. At the same time, it would provide the Office and the requester with notice of patent owner’s reasons for desiring entry and permit the requester to rebut patent owner’s stated position. This proposal involves § 1.945. Proposal III. Reexamination Correspondence: 1. The Patent Owner’s Address of Record: Currently, all notices, official letters, and other communications for patent owners in a reexamination proceeding must be directed to the attorney or agent of record (see § 1.33(c)) in the patent file at the address listed on the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to § 11.5 and § 11.11 (unless there is no attorney or agent of record, in which case the patent owner(s) address(es) of record are used). The Office has been receiving reexamination filings where the request has been served on the patent owner at the correspondence address under § 1.33(a) that is a correct address for the patent, rather than at the patent owner address prescribed in § 1.33(c) for use in reexamination. This has been occurring because the § 1.33(a) address is the address used for correspondence during the pendency of applications, as well as post-grant correspondence in patents maturing from such applications. Further, even if a potential reexamination requester realizes that the address indicated by § 1.33(c) is the proper patent owner address to use, patent practitioners occasionally move from one firm to another, and the potential reexamination requester is then faced with two (or more) § 1.33(c) addresses for the practitioners of record; the requester must decide which practitioner address to serve. Finally, the § 1.33(c) address might not be kept up-to-date, while a practitioner or patent owner is likely to be inclined to keep the § 1.33(a) address up-to-date for prompt receipt of notices as to the VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 patent. The Office of Enrollment and Discipline regularly has mail returned because the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to § 11.5 and § 11.11 is not up-to-date. Thus, the § 1.33(a) correspondence address for the patent provides a better or more reliable option for the patent owner’s address than does the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to § 11.5 and § 11.11 (the reexamination address for the patent owner presently called for by § 1.33(c)). It is to be noted that a change to the correspondence address may be filed with the Office during the enforceable life of the patent, and the correspondence address will be used in any correspondence relating to maintenance fees unless a separate fee address has been specified. See § 1.33(d). A review of randomly selected recent listings of inter partes reexamination filings reflected that all had an attorney or agent of record for the related patents. There were an average of 18.6 attorneys or agents of record for the patents, and for those attorneys, an average of 3.8 addresses (according to the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to § 11.5 and § 11.11). Although for half of the patents, all of the attorneys or agents had the same address, one patent had 77 attorneys and agents of record, and the register reflects 18 different addresses for these practitioners. In such a patent with many different attorneys and agents of record, and many of the practitioners being in different states, mailing a notice related to a reexamination proceeding for the patent to an attorney or agent of record in the patented file, even the attorney or agent most recently made of record (e.g., the attorney with the highest registration number), is likely to result in correspondence not being received by the appropriate party. Since the correspondence address of the patent file is used for maintenance fee correspondence, if a fee address is not specified, patent owners already have an incentive to keep the correspondence address for a patented file up-to-date. Given the choice of relying on either the correspondence address for the patent or the address for the attorney/ agent of record per the register of patent attorneys and agents (as is presently the case), it is more reasonable to rely on the correspondence address for the patent. The patentee should be responsible for updating the correspondence address for the patent, and if the patentee does not, then the patentee should bear the risk of a terminated reexamination prosecution due to the failure to respond to an Office PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 action sent to an obsolete address. Further, use of the correspondence address for the patent will provide a potential reexamination requester and the Office with one simple address to work with, and the requester and the Office will not be confused in the situations where attorneys move from firm to firm (as that has become more common). The correspondence address for the patents is available in public PAIR (Patent Application Information Retrieval), so that a requester need only click on the address button for the patent, and he/she will know what address to use. The present proposal would accordingly revise § 1.33(c) to designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correct address for all notices, official letters, and other communications for patent owners in reexamination proceedings. If the present proposal is implemented, the correspondence address for any pending reexamination proceeding not having the same correspondence address as that of the patent file will automatically be changed, by rule, to that of the patent file. For any such proceeding, it would be strongly encouraged (at that point) that the patent owner should affirmatively file a Notification of Change of Correspondence Address in the reexamination proceeding to conform the address of the proceeding with that of the patent. While the correspondence address change would automatically be effected (by rule) even if the patent owner notification is not filed, such a patent owner notification would clarify the record, and would address the possibility that, absent such a patent owner notification, correspondence may inadvertently be mailed to an incorrect address causing a delay in the prosecution. This aspect of the proposal involves § 1.33. 2. Reexamination correspondence addressed to the Office: In the final rule Changes to Implement the 2002 Inter Partes Reexamination and Other Technical Amendments to the Patent Statute, 68 FR 70996 (Dec. 22, 2003), 1278 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 218 (Jan. 20, 2004), § 1.1(c) was amended to provide separate mail stops for ex parte reexamination proceedings and inter partes reexamination proceedings. See § 1.1(c). As per that rule making, the mail stop for ex parte reexamination proceedings can only be used for the original request papers for ex parte reexamination. The new mail stop for inter partes reexamination, on the other hand, includes both original request papers and all subsequent E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules correspondence filed in the Office (other than correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel pursuant to § 1.1(a)(3) and § 1.302(c)), because the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) was, and is, the central receiving area for all inter partes reexamination proceeding papers. The CRU has now also become the central receiving area for all ex parte reexamination proceeding papers. Accordingly, it is proposed to simplify the filing of reexamination papers by permitting the use of ‘‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam’’ for the filing of all ex parte reexamination follow-on papers (not just ex parte reexamination requests), other than correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel pursuant to §§ 1.1(a)(3) and 1.302(c)). This aspect of the proposal involves § 1.1(c). Correspondence relating to all reexamination proceedings is best handled at one central location where Office personnel have specific expertise in reexamination because of the unique nature of reexamination proceedings. That central location is the CRU. Proposal IV. Clarifying Changes as to Reexamination Rule Terminology and Applicability, and Correction of Inadvertent Errors in the Text of Certain Reexamination Rules: The Office is proposing miscellaneous clarifying changes as to the terminology and applicability of the reexamination rules. The rule changes of sub-parts 1 and 2 below were proposed in the Changes To Support Implementation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 21st Century Strategic Plan, 68 FR 53816 (Sept. 12, 2003), 1275 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 23 (Oct. 7, 2003) (notice of proposed rule making) (hereinafter the Strategic Plan Proposed Rule). The Office did not proceed with those changes in the final rule Changes To Support Implementation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 21st Century Strategic Plan, 69 FR 56482 ( Sept. 21, 2004), 1287 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 67 (Oct. 12, 2004) (final rule) (hereinafter the Strategic Plan Final Rule). The Office is re-presenting those proposals after further consideration and in view of the changes somewhat more recently made by the final rule Rules of Practice Before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences 69 FR 49960 (Aug. 12, 2004), 1286 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 21 (Sept. 7, 2004) (final rule) (hereinafter, the Appeals final rule). The essential substance of all change proposals set forth in Proposal IV, subparts 1 and 2, remains as it was in the Strategic Plan Proposed Rule. The four revisions proposed in Proposal IV are set forth as follows: VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 1. It is proposed that the rules be amended to clarify that the patent owner’s failure to file a timely response in an ex parte or inter partes reexamination proceeding will terminate the prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, but will not terminate or conclude the reexamination proceeding itself. It is the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate that concludes the reexamination proceeding. This distinction is important, because a reexamination prosecution which is terminated may be reopened at the option of the Director where appropriate. For example, a rejection that was withdrawn during the proceeding may be reinstated after the prosecution has terminated where the propriety of that rejection has been reconsidered. In contrast, a reexamination proceeding which has been concluded is not subject to being reopened. After the reexamination proceeding has been concluded, the Office is not permitted to reinstate the exact same ground of rejection in a reexamination proceeding, where the same question of patentability is raised by the prior art that is the basis of the rejection. See § 13105, part (a), of the Patent and Trademark Office Authorization Act of 2002, enacted in Public Law 107–273, 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, 116 Stat. 1758 (2002). This distinction between terminating the prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, and the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding, was highlighted by the Federal Circuit decision of In re Bass, 314 F.3d 575, 577, 65 USPQ2d 1156, 1157 (Fed. Cir. 2003), wherein the Court indicated that: Until a matter has been completed, however, the PTO may reconsider an earlier action. See In re Borkowski, 505 F.2d 713, 718, 184 USPQ 29, 32–33 (CCPA 1974). A reexamination is complete upon the statutorily mandated issuance of a reexamination certificate, 35 U.S.C. 307(a); the NIRC merely notifies the applicant of the PTO’s intent to issue a certificate. A NIRC does not wrest jurisdiction from the PTO precluding further review of the matter. It is to be noted that both Notice of Intent to Issue Reexamination Certificate (NIRC) cover sheet forms, i.e., ex parte reexamination Form PTOL 469 and inter partes reexamination Form PTOL 2068, specifically state (in their opening sentences) that ‘‘[p]rosecution on the merits is (or remains) closed in this * * * reexamination proceeding. This proceeding is subject to reopening at the initiative of the Office, or upon petition.’’ This statement in both forms PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16075 makes the point that the NIRC terminates the prosecution in the reexamination proceeding (if prosecution has not already been terminated, e.g., via failure to respond), but does not terminate or conclude the reexamination proceeding itself. Rather, it is the issuance and publication of the reexamination certificate that concludes the reexamination proceeding. The rules would be revised accordingly. Definitional Consideration: In the Strategic Plan Proposed Rule, the terminology used was that a patent owner’s failure to file a timely response in a reexamination proceeding (and the issuance of the NIRC) would ‘‘conclude’’ the prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, but would not terminate the reexamination proceeding, and the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate would ‘‘terminate’’ the reexamination proceeding. This usage of ‘‘conclude’’ and ‘‘terminate’’ has been reconsidered, however, and the usage of the terms has been reversed to be consistent with the way the Office defines ‘‘termination,’’ as can be observed in the recent Appeals final rule (supra.). It is to be noted that the patent statute, in 35 U.S.C. 307(a), states for ex parte reexamination (35 U.S.C. 316 contains an analogous statement for inter partes reexamination): ‘‘In a reexamination proceeding under this chapter, when the time for appeal has expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director will issue and publish a certificate canceling any claim of the patent finally determined to be unpatentable, confirming any claim of the patent determined to be patentable, and incorporating in the patent any proposed amended or new claim determined to be patentable.’’ (Emphasis added). Thus, after the appeal proceeding in the reexamination is terminated (which terminates the prosecution in the reexamination), the reexamination proceeding is concluded by the issuance and publication of the reexamination certificate. It is further observed that in the Appeals final rule, § 1.116(c) states that ‘‘[t]he admission of, or refusal to admit, any amendment after a final rejection, a final action, an action closing prosecution, or any related proceedings will not operate to relieve the * * * reexamination prosecution from termination under § 1.550(d) or § 1.957(b) * * *.’’ The use of ‘‘termination of the prosecution’’ where the reexamination proceeding has not concluded is consistent with the presentation in § 1.116(c) in the Appeals final rule. As a further indication in the E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL 16076 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules Appeals final rule, § 1.197(a) discusses the passing of jurisdiction over an application or patent under ex parte reexamination proceeding to the examiner after a decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and § 1.197(b) then states that ‘‘[p]roceedings on an application are considered terminated by the dismissal of an appeal or the failure to timely file an appeal to the court or a civil action (§ 1.304) except * * *.’’ Thus, the termination (of the appeal) does not signify the completion of an application or reexamination proceeding. Rather, the application then continues until patenting or abandonment, and the reexamination continues until issuance of the reexamination certificate; at that point these proceedings are concluded. The above changes would be directed to §§ 1.502, 1.550, 1.565(d), 1.570, 1.902, 1.953, 1.957, 1.958, 1.979, 1.991, 1.997, and 41.4. 2. Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 307(a), ‘‘when the time for appeal has expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director will issue and publish a certificate * * *’’ (emphasis added) for an ex parte reexamination proceeding. Likewise, for an inter partes reexamination, 35 U.S.C. 316(a) states that ‘‘when the time for appeal has expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director shall issue and publish a certificate’’ (emphasis added). Accordingly, any reexamination proceeding is concluded when the reexamination certificate has been issued and published. It is at that point in time that the Office no longer has jurisdiction over the patent which has been reexamined. Sections 1.570 and 1.997 are the sections that implement the statutory ex parte and inter partes reexamination certificates, respectively. The titles of §§ 1.570 and 1.997, as well as paragraphs (b) and (d) in both sections, currently refer to the issuance of the reexamination certificate, but fail to refer to the publication of the certificate. The titles of §§ 1.570 and 1.997, as well as paragraphs (b) and (d), are proposed to be revised to track the language of 35 U.S.C. 307 and 35 U.S.C. 316, and refer to both issuance and publication, to thereby make it clear in the rules when the reexamination proceeding is concluded. The other reexamination rules containing language referring to the issuance of the reexamination certificate would likewise be revised. The above changes would be directed to §§ 1.502, 1.530, 1.550, 1.565(c), 1.570, 1.902, 1.953, 1.957, 1.979, and 1.997. 3. In § 1.137, the introductory text of paragraphs (a) and (b) states ‘‘a reexamination proceeding terminated VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b) or (c).’’ [Emphasis added]. As pointed out in the discussion of the first sub-proposal, when the patent owner fails to timely respond, it is actually the prosecution of the reexamination that is terminated under § 1.550(d) for ex parte reexamination, or is terminated under § 1.957(b) for inter partes reexamination. For the § 1.957(c) scenario, however, the prosecution of the inter partes reexamination proceeding is not terminated when the patent owner fails to timely respond pursuant to § 1.957(c). Rather, an Office action is issued to permit the third party requester to challenge the claims found patentable (as to any matter where the requester has preserved the right of such a challenge), and the prosecution is ‘‘limited to the claims found patentable at the time of the failure to respond, and to any claims added thereafter which do not expand the scope of the claims which were found patentable at that time.’’ Section 1.957(c). It is proposed that the introductory text of § 1.137(a) and § 1.137(b) be revised to also provide for the situation where the prosecution is ‘‘limited’’ pursuant to § 1.957(c) (and the prosecution of the reexamination is not ‘‘terminated’’). It is also proposed that § 1.137(e) be revised consistent with § 1.137(a) and § 1.137(b). It is noted that § 1.957(c) does, in fact, result in the ‘‘terminating’’ of reexamination prosecution as to the non-patentable claims (under § 1.957(b), on the other hand, prosecution is terminated in toto). It would be confusing, however, to refer to a termination of reexamination prosecution in the § 1.957(c) scenario, since the limited termination as to the non-patentable claims could easily be confused with the termination of the entirety of the prosecution of § 1.957(b). Accordingly, the § 1.957(c) ‘‘limitation’’ of the scope of the remaining claims is the language deemed better suited for use in the rules. The above changes would be directed to §§ 1.8, 1.137 and 41.4 (§§ 1.8 and 41.4 contain language which tracks that of § 1.137(a) and § 1.137(b), and would thus be revised accordingly). 4. Pursuant to § 1.8(b), a remedy is provided for having correspondence considered to be timely filed, where correspondence was mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph § 1.8(a) but not timely received in the Office, and ‘‘the application is held to be abandoned or the proceeding is dismissed, terminated, or decided with prejudice.’’ Such a remedy is not, however, explicitly provided for in an inter partes PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 reexamination proceeding where correspondence was mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph § 1.8(a), but not timely received in the Office. In that case, pursuant to § 1.957(c), the reexamination prosecution is not terminated, but is rather ‘‘limited to the claims found patentable at the time of the failure to respond, and to any claims added thereafter which do not expand the scope of the claims which were found patentable at that time.’’ Therefore, it could appear that § 1.8(b) does not apply to the § 1.957(c) scenario. Therefore, § 1.8(b) is proposed to be revised to explicitly provide the § 1.8(b) remedy for the § 1.957(c) scenario as well. In addition, the certificate of mailing and transmission is available to an inter partes reexamination third party requester filing papers. See MPEP §§ 2624 and 2666.05. Just as a § 1.8(b) remedy would be provided for the patent owner in the § 1.957(b) and (c) scenarios, it would also be provided for the requester in the § 1.957(a) scenario. The above change would be directed to § 1.8. 5. The final rule Rules of Practice Before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences 69 FR 49960 (Aug. 12, 2004), 1286 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 21 (Sept. 7, 2004) (final rule) revised the reexamination appeal rules to remove and reserve §§ 1.961 to 1.977. In addition, §§ 1.959, 1.979, 1.993 were revised and new §§ 41.60 through 41.81 were added. Revision of some of the reexamination rules referring to these sections was inadvertently not made. It is proposed to make those changes. Further, it is proposed that §§ 1.510(f) and 1.915(c) be revised to change § 1.34(a) to § 1.34, to update the sections to conform with the revision of § 1.34 made in final rule Revision of Power of Attorney and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 26, 2004) (final rule). It is further proposed that § 1.33(c) be revised to add ‘‘Amendments and other papers filed in a reexamination proceeding on behalf of the patent owner must be signed by the patent owner, or if there is more than one owner by all the owners, or by an attorney or agent of record in the patent file, or by a registered attorney or agent not of record who acts in a representative capacity under the provisions of § 1.34. Double correspondence with the patent owner or owners and the patent owner’s attorney or agent, or with more than one attorney or agent, will not be undertaken.’’ These two sentences were inadvertently deleted from § 1.33(c) via the final rule Changes to Representation E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL of Others Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 69 FR 35428, 35452 (June 24, 2004) (final rule). This aspect of the proposal involves §§ 1.33(c), 1.510(f), 1.915(c), 1.953(b), 1.983(a), and 1.991. Section-by-Section Discussion Section 1.1: It is proposed, pursuant to Proposal III, to amend § 1.1(c)(1) to provide for use of ‘‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam’’ for the filing of all ex parte reexamination follow-on papers (not just ex parte reexamination requests), other than certain correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel. Section 1.1 would be amended by revising paragraph (c)(1) from its current reading ‘‘Requests for ex parte reexamination (original request papers only) should be additionally marked ‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam’ ’’ to read ‘‘Requests for ex parte reexamination (original request papers) and all subsequent ex parte reexamination correspondence filed in the Office, other than correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel pursuant to § 1.1(a)(3) and § 1.302(c), should be additionally marked ‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam.’ ’’ Section 1.8: Section 1.8(b) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to recite ‘‘In the event that correspondence is considered timely filed by being mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, but not received in the * * * Office after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed from the time of mailing or transmitting of the correspondence * * * or the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is terminated pursuant to § 1.550(d) or § 1.957(b) or limited pursuant to § 1.957(c), or a requester paper is refused consideration pursuant to § 1.957(a), the correspondence will be considered timely if the party who forwarded such correspondence * * *.’’ The language ‘‘the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is terminated’’ (for §§ 1.550(d) and 1.957(b)) clarifies that the reexamination proceeding is not concluded under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b), but rather, the prosecution of the reexamination is terminated. The language ‘‘or the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is * * * limited pursuant to § 1.957(c)’’ more appropriately sets forth that the § 1.8(b) remedy is applied to avoid the § 1.957(c) consequences of a patent owner failure to respond in an inter partes reexamination. The language ‘‘or a requester paper is refused consideration pursuant to § 1.957(a)’’ more appropriately sets forth VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 that the § 1.8(b) remedy is applied to avoid the § 1.957(a) consequences of a failure to file a requester paper in an inter partes reexamination. Section 1.17: Sections 1.17(l) and (m) are proposed to be revised, pursuant to Proposal IV, to clarify that a reexamination proceeding is not concluded under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b), but rather, the prosecution of a reexamination is terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b), or reexamination prosecution is limited under § 1.957(c). No change is being proposed as to the fee amounts. Section 1.33: It is proposed that § 1.33(c) be revised, pursuant to Proposal III, to replace ‘‘the attorney or agent of record (see § 1.34(b)) in the patent file at the address listed on the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to §§ 11.5 and 11.11 or, if no attorney or agent is of record, to the patent owner or owners at the address or addresses of record’’ with ‘‘correspondence address.’’ As proposed to be revised, all notices, official letters, and other communications for the patent owner or owners in a reexamination proceeding will be directed to the correspondence address for the patent. As previously discussed, a change to the correspondence address may be filed with the Office during the enforceable life of the patent. It is further proposed, pursuant to Proposal IV, that § 1.33(c) be revised to add ‘‘Amendments and other papers filed in a reexamination proceeding on behalf of the patent owner must be signed by the patent owner, or if there is more than one owner by all the owners, or by an attorney or agent of record in the patent file, or by a registered attorney or agent not of record who acts in a representative capacity under the provisions of § 1.34. Double correspondence with the patent owner or owners and the patent owner’s attorney or agent, or with more than one attorney or agent, will not be undertaken.’’ Section 1.137: Sections 1.137(a), (b), and (e) are proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to more appropriately set forth the §§ 1.550(d) and 1.957(b) consequences of the patent owner’s failure to make a required response. To do so, the introductory text of § 1.137(a) and § 1.137(b) is proposed to be revised to recite ‘‘a reexamination prosecution becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b)’’ (emphasis added), rather than ‘‘a reexamination proceeding becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b)’’ (emphasis added). In § 1.137(e), ‘‘a concluded ex parte reexamination prosecution’’ and ‘‘a concluded inter partes reexamination PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16077 prosecution’’ is proposed to be inserted in place of ‘‘a terminated ex parte reexamination proceeding’’ and ‘‘a terminated inter partes reexamination proceeding’’, respectively. Sections 1.137(a), (b) and (e) are proposed to be amended to clarify that the reexamination proceedings under § 1.957(c) referred to in §§ 1.137(b) and (c) are limited as to further prosecution; the prosecution is not terminated. To make this clarification, the introductory text portions of § 1.137(a) and § 1.137(b) are proposed to be revised to recite that the prosecution is ‘‘limited under § 1.957(c),’’ rather than ‘‘terminated.’’ Section 1.137(e) is proposed to be revised to also refer to ‘‘revival’’ of ‘‘an inter partes reexamination limited as to further prosecution.’’ Section 1.502: Section 1.502 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to state that the ‘‘reexamination proceeding’’ is ‘‘concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate.’’ That is the point at which citations (having an entry right in the patent) which were filed after the order of ex parte reexamination will be placed in the patent file. Section 1.510: It is proposed that § 1.510(b)(5) be revised, pursuant to Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new § 1.512 discussed below. In order to provide the patent owner with a maximized amount of time to file a reply under § 1.512 to a third party request, the request must be served on the patent owner by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight delivery, as opposed to first class mail. Accordingly, § 1.510(b)(5) would be revised to require that the request include a certification in accordance with § 1.248(b) by the third party requester that a copy of the request was served in its entirety on the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight. The name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service on the patent owner was not possible, then a duplicate copy must be supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the request until either the certification by the requester is received, or the Office serves the supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner. It is further proposed that § 1.510(f) be revised, pursuant to Proposal IV, to change § 1.34(a) to § 1.34. This change would update the section to conform with the revision of § 1.34 made in Revision of Power of Attorney and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 26, 2004) (final rule). E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL 16078 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules Section 1.512: Pursuant to Proposal I, it is proposed to provide new § 1.512 to provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. Section 1.512(a) would permit a reply to a third party ex parte reexamination request under § 1.510 to be filed by the patent owner within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the patent owner. Since the statute requires that the decision on the request be issued within three months following the filing of a request for reexamination, this thirty-day period is not extendable. It is strongly encouraged that any patent owner reply to a request be faxed directly to the CRU to ensure receipt and matching with the reexamination proceeding prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. It is to be noted that this provision for patent owner reply to a request does not apply to Director ordered reexaminations and patent owner requested reexaminations. It does not apply to Director ordered reexaminations, since there is no request for reexamination. It does not apply to patent owner requested reexaminations, since the patent owner can place all of its comments in its request. Section 1.512(a) would also require that any reply to a request by the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in accordance with § 1.248. Service on the requester of all patent owner papers is required in a third party requested reexamination. Section 1.512(b) would require (1) that the total reply to the request not exceed fifty total pages in length excluding evidence and reference materials such as prior art references, (2) that the form of the reply must be in accordance with the requirements of § 1.52, and (3) that the reply must not include any proposed amendment of the claims. Fifty pages is deemed a sufficient upper limit for the patent owner’s rebuttal of the requester’s case, and an excessive length would only delay the process. Section 1.512(b) would also require that the reply not include any proposed amendment of the claims. The determination on whether to order reexamination is made on the patent claims as they exist at the filing of the request; thus there is no need for an amendment at this point in the process, and again, an amendment would only delay the process. Section 1.512(c) would provide that the reply will be considered only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request for reexamination. Although a reply that does not solely VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 relate to the issues raised in the request will not be returned to the patent owner, any portion of the reply that does not relate to the issues raised in the request will not be considered, and comments will not be provided by the Office as to what was not considered. Section 1.512(c) would further provide for the returning or discarding of the reply papers, if the reply to the request: is not timely filed, fails to comply with § 1.512(b), or fails to include a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in accordance with § 1.248. In these instances, the reply will be returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. Further, there will be no opportunity to file a supplemental reply, given the time constraints discussed above. Section 1.512(d) would provide that the third party requester may not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, and that any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. There is no need for a further requester paper at this point, since, if reexamination is denied, third party requester will continue to have (pursuant to § 1.515(c)) the right to seek review by a petition under § 1.181 within one month of the mailing date of the examiner’s determination refusing reexamination. At that point, the requester can address the patent owner reply to the request. Section 1.515(a): Section 1.515(a) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, as a conformatory change with respect to new § 1.512. Section 1.515(a) would be revised to state that the examiner will consider any patent owner reply under § 1.512 together with the request for reexamination, in determining whether to grant reexamination. The first sentence of § 1.515(a) would read: ‘‘Within three months following the filing date of a request for an ex parte reexamination under § 1.510, an examiner will consider the request and any patent owner reply under § 1.512 and determine whether or not a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent is raised * * *.’’ The bold shows the added text. Section 1.530: Section 1.530(a) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal I as a conformatory change with respect to new § 1.512. Currently, § 1.530(a) provides: ‘‘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.’’ Since the patent owner would be permitted to file, prior to the PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 determination made in accordance with § 1.515, a reply to a third party ex parte reexamination request under § 1.510 if proposed new § 1.512 is adopted, § 1.530(a) would be revised to provide: ‘‘Unless otherwise authorized, no statement or other response by the patent owner in an ex parte reexamination proceeding shall be filed prior to the determinations made in accordance with § 1.515 or § 1.520.’’ This ‘‘unless otherwise authorized’’ language is the same as is used in the inter partes reexamination analogous provision § 1.939. In addition, the disposition of the unauthorized paper would be explicitly set forth in the § 1.530(a), i.e., the paper will be returned or discarded at the Office’s option. Section 1.530(k) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to state that proposed amendments in ex parte or inter partes reexamination are not effective until the reexamination certificate is both ‘‘issued and published’’ (emphasis added) to conform § 1.530(k) with the language of 35 U.S.C. 307. Section 1.550: Section 1.550(d) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to recite that ‘‘[i]f the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response to any Office action or any written statement of an interview required under § 1.560(b), the prosecution in the ex parte reexamination proceeding will be a terminated prosecution, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under § 1.570 * * *’’ (emphasis added.). This makes it clear that the patent owner’s failure to timely file a required response (or interview statement) will result in the terminating of prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, but will not conclude the reexamination proceeding. It is to be noted that the prosecution will be a terminated prosecution as of the day after the response was due and not timely filed. In this instance, the NIRC will be subsequently issued; however, it will not be the instrument that operates to terminate the prosecution, since that will have already automatically occurred upon the failure to respond. Further, ‘‘issued and published’’ is used to conform § 1.550(d) with the language of 35 U.S.C. 307. Section 1.565: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that § 1.565(c) be amended to set forth that consolidated ex parte reexamination proceedings will result in the issuance and publication of a single certificate under § 1.570. As pointed out above, this tracks the E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules statutory language. It is further proposed that § 1.565(d) be amended to make it clear that the issuance of a reissue patent for a merged reissuereexamination proceeding effects the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. This is distinguished from the termination of the reexamination prosecution, as pointed out above. As a further technical change, it is proposed to change ‘‘consolidated’’ in § 1.565(c) to ‘‘merged,’’ for consistency with the terminology used in § 1.565(d). There is no difference in the meaning of the two terms, and the use of different terms in the two subsections is confusing. In addition, in § 1.565(d), it is proposed to replace ‘‘normally’’ with ‘‘usually,’’ as ‘‘normally’’ is deemed an inadvertent inappropriate choice of terminology. The same term (‘‘usually’’) would be added to § 1.565(c). It is to be noted that there are instances where the Office does not consolidate or merge an ongoing ex parte reexamination proceeding with a subsequent reexamination or reissue proceeding, which are addressed on a case-by-case basis. The following are examples. If the prosecution in an ongoing ex parte reexamination proceeding has terminated (e.g., by the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Issue Reexamination Certificate), the ex parte reexamination proceedings will generally not be consolidated or merged with a subsequent reexamination or reissue proceeding. If an ongoing ex parte reexamination proceeding is ready for decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, or is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, it would be inefficient (and contrary to the statutory mandate for special dispatch) to ‘‘pull back’’ the ongoing ex parte reexamination proceeding for merger with a subsequent reexamination or reissue proceeding. As a final example, an ongoing ex parte reexamination proceeding might be directed to one set of claims for which a first accused infringer (with respect to the second set) has filed the ongoing request for reexamination. A later reexamination request might then be directed to a different set of claims for which a second accused infringer (with respect to the second set) has filed the request. In this instance, where there are simply no issues in common, merger would serve only to delay the resolution of the first proceeding, representing a harm to the reexamination system. If reexamination is to act as an effective alternative to litigation, the ability to decide the question of whether to merge/consolidate based on the merits VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 of a particular fact pattern must be reserved to the Office. Section 1.570: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that the heading of § 1.570 and § 1.570(a) be amended to make it clear that the issuance and publication of the ex parte reexamination certificate effects the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. The failure to timely respond, or the issuance of the NIRC, do not conclude the reexamination proceeding. Section 1.570, paragraphs (b) and (d), would be amended to recite that the reexamination certificate is both issued and published for consistency with the language of 35 U.S.C. 307. Section 1.902: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed to amend § 1.902 to state that the ‘‘reexamination proceeding’’ is ‘‘concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate.’’ That is the point at which citations (having a right to entry in the patent) which were filed after the order of inter partes reexamination will be placed in the patent file. Section 1.915: It is proposed that § 1.915(b)(6) be revised, pursuant to Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new § 1.921 discussed below. In order to provide the patent owner with a maximized amount of time to file a reply under § 1.921 to the third party’s request, the request must be served on the patent owner by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight delivery, as opposed to first class mail. Accordingly, § 1.915(b)(6) would be revised to require that the request include a certification in accordance with § 1.248(b) by the third party requester that a copy of the request was served in its entirety on the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight. The name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service on the patent owner was not possible, then a duplicate copy must be supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the request until either the certification by the requester is received, or the Office serves the supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner. Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that § 1.915(c) be revised to change § 1.34(a) to § 1.34. This change would update the section to conform with the revision of § 1.34 made in Revision of Power of Attorney and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 26, 2004) (final rule). Section 1.921: Pursuant to Proposal I, it is proposed to provide new § 1.921 to provide for a patent owner reply to a PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16079 request for an inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. Section 1.921(a) would permit a reply to a third party inter partes reexamination request under § 1.915 to be filed by the patent owner within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the patent owner. Since the statute requires that the decision on the request be issued within three months following the filing of a request for reexamination, this thirty-day period is not extendable. It is strongly encouraged that any patent owner reply to a request be faxed directly to the CRU or hand-carried to the CRU, to ensure receipt and matching with the reexamination proceeding prior to the examiner’s decision on the request. It is to be noted that this provision for a patent owner reply to a request does not apply to Director ordered reexaminations and patent owner requested reexaminations, since there cannot be a Director ordered inter partes reexamination or a patent owner requested inter partes reexamination. Section 1.921(a) would also require that any reply to a request by the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in accordance with § 1.248. Service on the requester of all patent owner papers is required in any inter partes reexamination. Section 1.921(b) would require (1) that the entire reply to the request not exceed 50 total pages in length excluding evidence and reference materials such as prior art references, (2) that the form of the reply must be in accordance with the requirements of § 1.52, and (3) that the reply must not include any proposed amendment of the claims. Fifty pages is deemed a sufficient upper limit for the patent owner’s rebuttal of the requester’s case, and an excessive length would only delay the process. Section 1.921(b) would also require that the reply not include any proposed amendment of the claims. The determination on whether to order reexamination is made on the patent claims as they exist at the filing of the request; thus there is no need for an amendment at this point in the process, and again, an amendment would only delay the process. Section 1.921(c) would provide that the reply will be considered only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request for reexamination. Although a reply that does not solely relate to the issues raised in the request will not be returned to the patent owner, any portion of the reply that does not relate to the issues raised in the request will not be considered, and comments E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL 16080 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules will not be provided by the Office as to what was not considered. Section 1.921(c) would further provide for the returning or discarding of the reply papers if the reply to the request: Is not timely filed, fails to comply with § 1.921(b), or fails to include a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in accordance with § 1.248. In these instances, the reply will be returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. Further, there will be no opportunity to file a supplemental reply, given the time constraints discussed above. Section 1.921(d) would provide that the third party requester may not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, and that any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. There is no need for a further requester paper at this point, since, if reexamination is denied, the third party requester will continue to have (pursuant to § 1.927) the right to seek review by a petition under § 1.181 within one month of the mailing date of the examiner’s determination refusing reexamination. At that point, the requester can address the patent owner reply to the request. Section 1.923: Section 1.923 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new § 1.921. Section 1.923 would be revised to state that the examiner will consider any patent owner reply under § 1.921 together with the request for reexamination, in determining whether to grant reexamination. In addition, in the first sentence, ‘‘§ 1.919’’ would be changed to ‘‘§ 1.915,’’ since it is § 1.915 that provides for the request; § 1.919 provides for the filing date of the request. Section 1.945: Currently, § 1.945 provides that ‘‘[t]he patent owner will be given at least thirty days to file a response to any Office action on the merits of the inter partes reexamination.’’ Pursuant to Proposal II, it is proposed that § 1.945 be revised to address the filing of a supplemental response to an Office action. As it is proposed to revise § 1.945, any supplemental response to an Office action would be entered only where the supplemental response is accompanied by a showing of sufficient cause why the supplemental response should be entered. The showing of sufficient cause would be required to provide: (1) A detailed explanation of how the requirements of § 1.111(a)(2)(i) are satisfied; (2) an explanation of why the supplemental response could not have VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 been presented together with the original response to the Office action; and (3) a compelling reason to enter the supplemental response. The decision on the sufficiency of the showing will not be issued until after receipt of requester comments under § 1.947 on the supplemental response, or the expiration of the 30-day period for requester comments (whichever comes first). The decision would be communicated to the parties either prior to, or with, the next Office action on the merits, as is deemed appropriate for the handling of the case. A showing of sufficient cause will not be established by an explanation that the supplemental response is needed to address the requester’s comments (on patent owner’s response), and could not have been presented together with the original response because it was not known that requester would raise a particular point. The inter partes reexamination statute (35 U.S.C. 314) provides for the patent owner to respond to an Office action, and the requester to comment on that response. There is no intent in the statute to provide the patent owner with a chance to file a supplemental response to address the requester’s comments. It is pointed out that no corresponding rule revision is needed in ex parte reexamination, since there is no third party requester comment on a patent owner response (that a patent owner will wish to address), and § 1.111(a)(2) will adequately deal with patent owner supplemental responses. Section 1.953: Revision is proposed pursuant to Proposal IV. Section 1.953(b) states ‘‘Any appeal by the parties shall be conducted in accordance with §§ 1.959–1.983.’’ This reference to §§ 1.959–1.983 is not correct, as some of the referenced rules have been deleted and others added. Instead of revising the incorrect reference, the entire sentence is proposed to be deleted as being out of place in § 1.953, which is not directed to the appeal process, but rather an Office action notifying parties of the right to appeal. Section 1.953(c) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to state that if a notice of appeal is not timely filed after a Right of Appeal Notice, then ‘‘prosecution in the inter partes reexamination proceeding will be terminated.’’ This will not, however, conclude the reexamination proceeding. The subheading preceding § 1.956 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to refer to termination of the prosecution of the reexamination, rather than the termination or conclusion of the reexamination PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 proceeding, since that is what the sections which follow address. It is § 1.997 (Issuance of Inter Partes Reexamination Certificate) that deals with conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. Section 1.957: Section 1.957(b) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to recite that ‘‘[i]f no claims are found patentable, and the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response * * *, the prosecution in the reexamination proceeding will be a terminated prosecution, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under § 1.997 * * *’’ (Emphasis added). This makes it clear that the patent owner’s failure to timely file a required response, where no claim has been found patentable, will result in the terminating of prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, but will not conclude the reexamination proceeding. As previously discussed for ex parte reexamination, the prosecution will be a terminated prosecution as of the day after the response was due and not timely filed. In this instance, the NIRC will be subsequently issued; however, it will not be the instrument that operates to terminate the prosecution, since that will have already automatically occurred upon the failure to respond. Also, ‘‘issued and published’’ is used to conform § 1.550(d) with the language of 35 U.S.C. 316. Section 1.958: The heading of § 1.958 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to refer to the termination of prosecution of the reexamination, rather than the termination or conclusion of the reexamination proceeding, since that is what the rule addresses. Section 1.979: Section 1.979(b) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to recite that ‘‘[u]pon judgment in the appeal before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, if no further appeal has been taken (§ 1.983), the prosecution in the inter partes reexamination proceeding will be terminated and the Director will issue and publish a certificate under § 1.997 concluding the proceeding.’’ [Emphasis added]. This makes it clear that the termination of an appeal for an inter partes reexamination proceeding will result in a terminating of prosecution of the reexamination proceeding if no other appeal is present, but will not conclude the reexamination proceeding. Rather, it is the reexamination certificate under § 1.997 that concludes the reexamination proceeding. In addition, the title of § 1.979 is proposed to be amended to add E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules ‘‘appeal’’ before proceedings, and thus recite ‘‘Return of Jurisdiction from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences; termination of appeal proceedings.’’ This would make it clear that it is the appeal proceedings that are terminated; the reexamination proceeding is not terminated or concluded. Section 1.983: In § 1.983(a), it is proposed, pursuant to Proposal IV, to change the incorrect reference to § 1.979(e) to the correct reference,— § 41.81. Section 1.989: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that § 1.989(a) be amended to set forth that consolidated (merged) reexamination proceedings containing an inter partes reexamination proceeding will result in the issuance and publication of a single certificate under § 1.570. As pointed out above, this tracks the statutory language. Section 1.991: In § 1.991, it is proposed, pursuant to Proposal IV, to add ‘‘and 41.60–41.81’’ to ‘‘§§ 1.902 through 1.997,’’ since §§ 41.60–41.81 provide the requester with participation rights. It is further proposed that § 1.991 be amended to make it clear that the issuance of a reissue patent for a merged reissue-reexamination proceeding effects the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. This is distinguished from the termination of the reexamination prosecution, as pointed out above. Section 1.997: Both the heading of § 1.997 and § 1.997(a) are proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to make it clear that the issuance and publication of the inter partes reexamination certificate effects the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. The failure to timely respond, or the issuance of the NIRC, does not conclude the reexamination proceeding. Section 1.997(a) is also proposed to be revised to make its language consistent with that of § 1.570(a). Section 1.997, paragraphs (b) and (d), are proposed to be amended to recite that the reexamination certificate is both issued and published, for consistency with the language of 35 U.S.C. 316. Section 41.4: Paragraph (b) of § 41.4 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to (1) recite to ‘‘a reexamination prosecution becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b)’’ rather than ‘‘a reexamination proceeding becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b),’’ and (2) refer to the prosecution as being ‘‘limited’’ under § 1.957(c) rather than ‘‘terminated’’ under § 1.957(c). These changes track those made in § 1.137; see the discussion of § 1.137. VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 Rule Making Considerations Regulatory Flexibility Act: For the reasons set forth herein, the Deputy General Counsel for General Law of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that the changes proposed in this notice will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. See 5 U.S.C. 605(b). The Office has issued between about 150,000 and 190,000 patents each year during the last five fiscal years. The Office receives fewer than 500 requests for ex parte reexamination each year, and fewer than 100 requests for inter partes reexamination each year. The principal impact of the changes in this proposed rule is to prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of sufficient cause. The change in this proposed rule to prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of sufficient cause will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for two reasons. First, assuming that all patentees in an inter partes reexamination are small entities and that all would have submitted a supplemental response without sufficient cause, the proposed change would impact fewer than 100 small entity patentees each year. Second, there is no petition or other fee for the showing of sufficient cause that would be necessary under the proposed change for a supplemental patent owner’s response to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination. Therefore, the changes proposed in this notice will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Executive Order 13132: This rule making does not contain policies with federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a Federalism Assessment under Executive Order 13132 (Aug. 4, 1999). Executive Order 12866: This rule making has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866 (Sept. 30, 1993). Paperwork Reduction Act: This notice involves information collection requirements which are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). The collections of information involved in this notice have been reviewed and previously approved by PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16081 OMB under OMB control numbers: 0651–0027, 0651–0031, 0651–0033, and 0651–0035. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is not resubmitting the other information collections listed above to OMB for its review and approval because the changes in this notice do not affect the information collection requirements associated with the information collections under these OMB control numbers. The principal impacts of the changes in this proposed rule are to: (1) Provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner’s decision on the request, (2) prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of sufficient cause, (3) to designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correspondence address for all communications for patent owners in ex parte and inter partes reexaminations, and (4) to provide for the use of a single ‘‘mail stop’’ address for the filing of substantially all ex parte reexamination papers (as is already the case for inter partes reexamination papers). Interested persons are requested to send comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10202, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503, Attention: Desk Officer for the Patent and Trademark Office; and (2) Robert J. Spar, Director, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Commissioner for Patents, PO Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. List of Subjects 37 CFR Part 1 Administrative practice and procedure, Courts, Freedom of information, Inventions and patents, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Small businesses, and Biologics. 37 CFR Part 41 Administrative practice and procedure, Inventions and patents, Lawyers. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 37 CFR parts 1 and 41 are proposed to be amended as follows: E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 16082 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules PART 1—RULES OF PRACTICE IN PATENT CASES By a small entity (§ 1.27(a)) ........ By other than a small entity ....... 1. The authority citation for 37 CFR part 1 continues to read as follows: (m) For filing a petition for the revival of an unintentionally abandoned application, for the unintentionally delayed payment of the fee for issuing a patent, or for the revival of an unintentionally terminated or limited reexamination prosecution under 35 U.S.C. 41(a)(7) (§ 1.137(b)): Authority: 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2), unless otherwise noted. 2. Section 1.1 is amended by revising paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows: § 1.1 Addresses for non-trademark correspondence with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By a small entity (§ 1.27(a)) ........ By other than a small entity ....... * * * * * (c) * * * (1) Requests for ex parte reexamination (original request papers) and all subsequent ex parte reexamination correspondence filed in the Office, other than correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel pursuant to § 1.1(a)(3) and § 1.302(c), should be additionally marked ‘‘Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam.’’ * * * * * 3. Section 1.8 is amended by revising the introductory text of paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 1.8 Certificate of mailing or transmission. * * * * * (b) In the event that correspondence is considered timely filed by being mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, but not received in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed from the time of mailing or transmitting of the correspondence, or after the application is held to be abandoned, or after the proceeding is dismissed or decided with prejudice, or the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is terminated pursuant to § 1.550(d) or § 1.957(b) or limited pursuant to § 1.957(c), or a requester paper is refused consideration pursuant to § 1.957(a), the correspondence will be considered timely if the party who forwarded such correspondence: * * * * * 4. Section 1.17 is amended by revising paragraphs (l) and (m) to read as follows: § 1.17 Patent application and reexamination processing fees. wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL * * * * * (l) For filing a petition for the revival of an unavoidably abandoned application under 35 U.S.C. 111, 133, 364, or 371, for the unavoidably delayed payment of the issue fee under 35 U.S.C. 151, or for the revival of an unavoidably terminated or limited reexamination prosecution under 35 U.S.C. 133 (§ 1.137(a)): VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 $250.00 $500.00 $750.00 $1,500.00 * * * * * 5. Section 1.33 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 1.33 Correspondence respecting patent applications, reexamination proceedings, and other proceedings. * * * * * (c) All notices, official letters, and other communications for the patent owner or owners in a reexamination proceeding will be directed to the correspondence address. Amendments and other papers filed in a reexamination proceeding on behalf of the patent owner must be signed by the patent owner, or if there is more than one owner by all the owners, or by an attorney or agent of record in the patent file, or by a registered attorney or agent not of record who acts in a representative capacity under the provisions of § 1.34. Double correspondence with the patent owner or owners and the patent owner’s attorney or agent, or with more than one attorney or agent, will not be undertaken. * * * * * 6. Section 1.137 is amended by revising its heading, the introductory text of paragraph (a), the introductory text of paragraph (b), and paragraph (e) to read as follows: § 1.137 Revival of abandoned application, terminated reexamination prosecution, or lapsed patent. (a) Unavoidable. If the delay in reply by applicant or patent owner was unavoidable, a petition may be filed pursuant to this paragraph to revive an abandoned application, a reexamination prosecution terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b) or limited under § 1.957(c), or a lapsed patent. A grantable petition pursuant to this paragraph must be accompanied by: * * * * * (b) Unintentional. If the delay in reply by applicant or patent owner was unintentional, a petition may be filed pursuant to this paragraph to revive an abandoned application, a reexamination prosecution terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b) or limited under PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 § 1.957(c), or a lapsed patent. A grantable petition pursuant to this paragraph must be accompanied by: * * * * * (e) Request for reconsideration. Any request for reconsideration or review of a decision refusing to revive an abandoned application, a terminated or limited reexamination prosecution, or lapsed patent upon petition filed pursuant to this section, to be considered timely, must be filed within two months of the decision refusing to revive or within such time as set in the decision. Unless a decision indicates otherwise, this time period may be extended under: (1) The provisions of § 1.136 for an abandoned application or lapsed patent; (2) The provisions of § 1.550(c) for a terminated ex parte reexamination prosecution, where the ex parte reexamination was filed under § 1.510; or (3) The provisions of § 1.956 for a terminated inter partes reexamination prosecution or an inter partes reexamination limited as to further prosecution, where the inter partes reexamination was filed under § 1.913. * * * * * 7. Section 1.502 is revised to read as follows: § 1.502 Processing of prior art citations during an ex parte reexamination proceeding. Citations by the patent owner under § 1.555 and by an ex parte reexamination requester under either § 1.510 or § 1.535 will be entered in the reexamination file during a reexamination proceeding. The entry in the patent file of citations submitted after the date of an order to reexamine pursuant to § 1.525 by persons other than the patent owner, or an ex parte reexamination requester under either § 1.510 or § 1.535, will be delayed until the reexamination proceeding has been concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate. See § 1.902 for processing of prior art citations in patent and reexamination files during an inter partes reexamination proceeding filed under § 1.913. 8. Section 1.510 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(5), and (f) to read as follows: § 1.510 Request for ex parte reexamination. * * * * * (b) * * * (5) If the request was filed by a person other than the patent owner, a certification in accordance with § 1.248(b) by the requester that a copy E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules of the request has been served in its entirety on the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight delivery. The name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service was not possible, a duplicate copy must be supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the request until the certification is received, or the Office serves the supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner. * * * * * (f) If a request is filed by an attorney or agent identifying another party on whose behalf the request is being filed, the attorney or agent must have a power of attorney from that party or be acting in a representative capacity pursuant to § 1.34. 9. A new § 1.512 is added to read as follows: wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL § 1.512 Patent owner reply to third party request for ex parte reexamination. (a) A reply to a third party ex parte reexamination request under § 1.510 may be filed by the patent owner within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the patent owner. This thirty-day period is not extendable. Any such reply to the request by the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in accordance with § 1.248. (b) The reply to the request must not exceed fifty pages in length excluding evidence and reference materials such as prior art references, must be in accordance with the requirements of § 1.52, and must not include any proposed amendment of the claims. (c) The reply will be considered only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request for reexamination. If a reply to the request is not timely filed, fails to comply with paragraph (b) of this section, or fails to include a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in accordance with § 1.248, the reply will be returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration and without an opportunity to file a supplemental reply. (d) The third party requester may not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, and any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. 10. Section 1.515 is amended by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 1.515 Determination of the request for ex parte reexamination. (a) Within three months following the filing date of a request for an ex parte VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 reexamination under § 1.510, an examiner will consider the request and any patent owner reply under § 1.512 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, will become a part of the official file of the patent, and will be mailed to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) and to the person requesting reexamination. * * * * * 11. Section 1.530 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (k) to read as follows: § 1.530 Statement by patent owner in ex parte reexamination; amendment by patent owner in ex parte or inter partes reexamination; inventorship change in ex parte or inter partes reexamination. (a) Unless otherwise authorized, no statement or other response by the patent owner in an ex parte reexamination proceeding 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, and it will be returned or discarded (at the Office’s option). * * * * * (k) Amendments not effective until certificate. 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 and published. * * * * * 12. Section 1.550 is amended by revising paragraph (d) to read as follows: § 1.550 Conduct of ex parte reexamination proceedings. * * * * * (d) If the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response to any Office action or any written statement of an interview required under § 1.560(b), the prosecution in the ex parte reexamination proceeding will be a terminated prosecution, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under § 1.570 in accordance with the last action of the Office. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16083 13. Section 1.565 is amended by revising its paragraphs (c) and (d), to read as follows: § 1.565 Concurrent office proceedings which include an ex parte reexamination proceeding. * * * * * (c) If ex parte reexamination is ordered while a prior ex parte reexamination proceeding is pending and prosecution in the prior ex parte reexamination proceeding has not been terminated, the ex parte reexamination proceedings will usually be merged and result in the issuance and publication of a single certificate under § 1.570. For merger of inter partes reexamination proceedings, see § 1.989(a). For merger of ex parte reexamination and inter partes reexamination proceedings, see § 1.989(b). (d) If a reissue application and an ex parte reexamination proceeding on which an order pursuant to § 1.525 has been mailed are pending concurrently on a patent, a decision will usually be made to merge the two proceedings or to suspend one of the two proceedings. Where merger of a reissue application and an ex parte 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 ex parte reexamination proceeding during the pendency of the merged proceeding. The examiner’s actions and responses by the patent owner in a merged proceeding will apply to both the reissue application and the ex parte reexamination proceeding and will be physically entered into both files. Any ex parte reexamination proceeding merged with a reissue application shall be concluded by the grant of the reissued patent. For merger of a reissue application and an inter partes reexamination, see § 1.991. * * * * * 14. Section 1.570 is amended by revising its heading and paragraphs (a), (b) and (d), to read as follows: § 1.570 Issuance and publication of ex parte reexamination certificate concludes ex parte reexamination proceeding. (a) To conclude an ex parte reexamination proceeding, the Director will issue and publish an ex parte reexamination certificate in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 307 setting forth the results of the ex parte reexamination proceeding and the content of the patent following the ex parte reexamination proceeding. E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 16084 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules (b) An ex parte reexamination certificate will be issued and published in each patent in which an ex parte reexamination proceeding has been ordered under § 1.525 and has not been merged with any inter partes reexamination proceeding pursuant to § 1.989(a). Any statutory disclaimer filed by the patent owner will be made part of the ex parte reexamination certificate. * * * * * (d) If an ex parte reexamination certificate has been issued and published which cancels all of the claims of the patent, no further Office proceedings will be conducted with that patent or any reissue applications or any reexamination requests relating thereto. * * * * * 15. Section 1.902 is revised to read as follows: § 1.902 Processing of prior art citations during an inter partes reexamination proceeding. Citations by the patent owner in accordance with § 1.933 and by an inter partes reexamination third party requester under § 1.915 or § 1.948 will be entered in the inter partes reexamination file. The entry in the patent file of other citations submitted after the date of an order for reexamination pursuant to § 1.931 by persons other than the patent owner, or the third party requester under either § 1.913 or § 1.948, will be delayed until the inter partes reexamination proceeding has been concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination certificate. See § 1.502 for processing of prior art citations in patent and reexamination files during an ex parte reexamination proceeding filed under § 1.510. 16. Section 1.915 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(6) and (c) as follows: § 1.915 Content of request for inter partes reexamination. wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL * * * * * (b) * * * (6) A certification in accordance with § 1.248(b) by the third party requester that a copy of the request has been served in its entirety on the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight delivery. The name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service was not possible, a duplicate copy must be supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the request until the certification is received, or the Office serves the VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:27 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner. * * * * * (c) If an inter partes request is filed by an attorney or agent identifying another party on whose behalf the request is being filed, the attorney or agent must have a power of attorney from that party or be acting in a representative capacity pursuant to § 1.34. * * * * * 17. A new § 1.921 is added to read as follows: § 1.921 Patent owner reply to third party request for inter partes reexamination. (a) A reply to a third party inter partes reexamination request under § 1.915 may be filed by the patent owner within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the patent owner. This thirty-day period is not extendable. Any such reply to the request by the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in accordance with § 1.248. (b) The reply to the request must not exceed fifty pages in length excluding evidence and reference materials such as prior art references, must be in accordance with the requirements of § 1.52, and must not include any proposed amendment of the claims. (c) The reply will be considered only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request for reexamination. If a reply to the request is not timely filed, fails to comply with paragraph (b) of this section, or fails to include a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in accordance with § 1.248, the reply will be returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration and without an opportunity to file a supplemental reply. (d) The third party requester may not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, and any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded (at the Office’s option) without consideration. 18. Section 1.923 is revised to read as follows: § 1.923 Examiner’s determination on the request for inter partes reexamination. Within three months following the filing date of a request for inter partes reexamination under § 1.915, the examiner will consider the request and any patent owner reply under § 1.921 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 citation. The examiner’s determination will be based on the claims in effect at the time of the PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 determination, will become a part of the official file of the patent, and will be mailed to the patent owner at the address as provided for in § 1.33(c) and to the third party requester. If the examiner determines that no substantial new question of patentability is present, the examiner shall refuse the request and shall not order inter partes reexamination. 19. Section 1.945 is revised to read as follows: § 1.945 Response to Office action by patent owner in inter partes reexamination. (a) The patent owner will be given at least thirty days to file a response to any Office action on the merits of the inter partes reexamination. (b) Any supplemental response to the Office action will be entered only where the supplemental response is accompanied by a showing of sufficient cause why the supplemental response should be entered. The showing of sufficient cause must include: (1) An explanation of how the requirements of § 1.111(a)(2)(i) are satisfied; (2) An explanation of why the supplemental response could not have been presented together with the original response to the Office action; and (3) A compelling reason to enter the supplemental response. 20. Section 1.953 is amended by revising paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as follows: § 1.953 Examiner’s Right of Appeal Notice in inter partes reexamination. * * * * * (b) Expedited Right of Appeal Notice: At any time after the patent owner’s response to the initial Office action on the merits in an inter partes reexamination, the patent owner and all third party requesters may stipulate that the issues are appropriate for a final action, which would include a final rejection and/or a final determination favorable to patentability, and may request the issuance of a Right of Appeal Notice. The request must have the concurrence of the patent owner and all third party requesters present in the proceeding and must identify all of the appealable issues and the positions of the patent owner and all third party requesters on those issues. If the examiner determines that no other issues are present or should be raised, a Right of Appeal Notice limited to the identified issues shall be issued. (c) The Right of Appeal Notice shall be a final action, which comprises a final rejection setting forth each ground of rejection and/or final decision E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules favorable to patentability including each determination not to make a proposed rejection, an identification of the status of each claim, and the reasons for decisions favorable to patentability and/ or the grounds of rejection for each claim. No amendment can be made in response to the Right of Appeal Notice. The Right of Appeal Notice shall set a one-month time period for either party to appeal. If no notice of appeal is filed, prosecution in the inter partes reexamination proceeding will be terminated, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate under § 1.997 in accordance with the Right of Appeal Notice. 21. The undesignated center heading immediately preceding § 1.956 is revised to read as follows: Extensions of Time, Terminating of Reexamination Prosecution, and Petitions to Revive in Inter Partes Reexamination 22. Section 1.957 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 1.957 Failure to file a timely, appropriate or complete response or comment in inter partes reexamination. * * * * * (b) If no claims are found patentable, and the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response in an inter partes reexamination proceeding, the prosecution in the reexamination proceeding will be a terminated prosecution and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under § 1.997 in accordance with the last action of the Office. * * * * * 23. Section 1.958 is amended by revising its heading to read as follows: § 1.958 Petition to revive inter partes reexamination prosecution terminated for lack of patent owner response. * * * * * 24. Section 1.979 is amended by revising its heading and paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 1.979 Return of Jurisdiction from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences; termination of appeal proceedings. wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL * * * * * (b) Upon judgment in the appeal before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, if no further appeal has been taken (§ 1.983), the prosecution in the inter partes reexamination proceeding will be terminated and the Director will issue and publish a certificate under § 1.997 concluding the proceeding. If an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has been filed, that appeal is considered VerDate Aug<31>2005 15:49 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 terminated when the mandate is issued by the Court. 25. Section 1.983 is amended by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 1.983 Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in inter partes reexamination. (a) The patent owner or third party requester in an inter partes reexamination proceeding who is a party to an appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences may, subject to § 41.81, appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and may be a party to any appeal thereto taken from a reexamination decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. * * * * * 26. Section 1.989 is amended by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 1.989 Merger of concurrent reexamination proceedings. (a) If any reexamination is ordered while a prior inter partes reexamination proceeding is pending for the same patent and prosecution in the prior inter partes reexamination proceeding has not been terminated, a decision may be made to merge the two proceedings or to suspend one of the two proceedings. Where merger is ordered, the merged examination will normally result in the issuance and publication of a single reexamination certificate under § 1.997. * * * * * 27. Section 1.991 is revised to read as follows: § 1.991 Merger of concurrent reissue application and inter partes reexamination proceeding. If a reissue application and an inter partes reexamination proceeding on which an order pursuant to § 1.931 has been mailed are pending concurrently on a patent, a decision may be made to merge the two proceedings or to suspend one of the two proceedings. Where merger of a reissue application and an inter partes reexamination proceeding is ordered, the merged proceeding 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 inter partes reexamination proceeding during the pendency of the merged proceeding. In a merged proceeding the third party requester may participate to the extent provided under §§ 1.902 through 1.997 and 41.60–41.81, except that such participation shall be limited to issues within the scope of inter partes PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 16085 reexamination. The examiner’s actions and any responses by the patent owner or third party requester in a merged proceeding will apply to both the reissue application and the inter partes reexamination proceeding and be physically entered into both files. Any inter partes reexamination proceeding merged with a reissue application shall be concluded by the grant of the reissued patent. 28. Section 1.997 is amended by revising its heading and paragraphs (a), (b), and (d) to read as follows: § 1.997 Issuance and publication of inter partes reexamination certificate concludes inter partes reexamination proceeding. (a) To conclude an inter partes reexamination proceeding, the Director will issue and publish an inter partes reexamination certificate in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 316 setting forth the results of the inter partes reexamination proceeding and the content of the patent following the inter partes reexamination proceeding. (b) A certificate will be issued and published in each patent in which an inter partes reexamination proceeding has been ordered under § 1.931. Any statutory disclaimer filed by the patent owner will be made part of the certificate. * * * * * (d) If a certificate has been issued and published which cancels all of the claims of the patent, no further Office proceedings will be conducted with that patent or any reissue applications or any reexamination requests relating thereto. * * * * * PART 41—PRACTICE BEFORE THE BOARD OF PATENT APPEALS AND INTERFERENCES 29. The authority citation for 37 CFR part 41 continues to read as follows: Authority: 35 U.S.C. 2(b)(2), 3(a)(2)(A), 21, 23, 32, 41, 134, 135. 30. Section 41.4 is amended by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows: § 41.4 Timeliness. * * * * * (b) Late filings. (1) A late filing that results in either an application becoming abandoned or a reexamination prosecution becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b) of this title or limited under § 1.957(c) of this title may be revived as set forth in § 1.137 of this title. (2) A late filing that does not result in either an application becoming abandoned or a reexamination prosecution becoming terminated under §§ 1.550(d) or 1.957(b) of this title or E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1 16086 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 61 / Thursday, March 30, 2006 / Proposed Rules limited under § 1.957(c) of this title will be excused upon a showing of excusable neglect or a Board determination that consideration on the merits would be in the interest of justice. * * * * * Dated: March 22, 2006. Jon W. Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. [FR Doc. 06–2962 Filed 3–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–16–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA–R07–OAR–2005–0482; FRL–8050–1] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; State of Iowa Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Proposed rule. wwhite on PROD1PC65 with PROPOSAL AGENCY: SUMMARY: EPA proposes to approve a revision to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted by the state of Iowa. The purpose of this revision is to approve the 2005 update to the Polk County Board of Health Rules and Regulations, Chapter V, Air Pollution. These revisions will help to ensure consistency between the applicable local agency rules and Federallyapproved rules, and ensure Federal enforceability of the applicable parts of the local agency air programs. DATES: Comments on this proposed action must be received in writing by May 1, 2006. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R07– OAR–2005–0482 by one of the following methods: 1. http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. 2. E-mail: Hamilton.heather@epa.gov. 3. Mail: Heather Hamilton, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. 4. Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver your comments to: Heather Hamilton, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Regional Office’s normal hours of operation. The Regional Office’s official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays. VerDate Aug<31>2005 19:13 Mar 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 Please see the direct final rule that is located in the Rules section of this Federal Register for detailed instructions on how to submit comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Hamilton at (913) 551–7039, or by e-mail at hamilton.heather@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the final rules section of the Federal Register, EPA is approving the state’s SIP revision as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial revision amendment and anticipates no relevant adverse comments to this action. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no relevant adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated in relation to this action. If EPA receives relevant adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed action. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on part of this rule and if that part can be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those parts of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment. For additional information, see the direct final rule that is located in the rules section of this Federal Register. Dated: March 13, 2006. James B. Gulliford, Regional Administrator, Region 7. [FR Doc. 06–3033 Filed 3–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA–R07–OAR–2006–0122; FRL–8050–3] Approval and Promulgation of Implementation Plans; Iowa; Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: SUMMARY: EPA proposes to approve a revision to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for the purpose of giving the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) full regulatory responsibility for EPA-issued PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. IDNR demonstrated state legislative authority to take responsibility for the permits, and demonstrated that resources are available to accomplish full regulatory responsibility. Comments on this proposed action must be received in writing by May 1, 2006. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R07– OAR–2006–0122 by one of the following methods: 1. http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. 2. E-mail: Hamilton.heather@epa.gov. 3. Mail: Heather Hamilton, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. 4. Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver your comments to: Heather Hamilton, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kansas 66101. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Regional Office’s normal hours of operation. The Regional Office’s official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays. Please see the direct final rule which is located in the Rules section of this Federal Register for detailed instructions on how to submit comments. DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Hamilton at (913) 551–7039, or by e-mail at Hamilton.heather@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the final rules section of the Federal Register, EPA is approving the state’s submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial revision amendment and anticipates no relevant adverse comments to this action. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no relevant adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated in relation to this action. If EPA receives relevant adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed action. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on part of this rule and if that part can be severed E:\FR\FM\30MRP1.SGM 30MRP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 61 (Thursday, March 30, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 16072-16086]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-2962]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Patent and Trademark Office

37 CFR Parts 1 and 41

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2005-0016]
RIN 0651-AB77


Revisions and Technical Corrections Affecting Requirements for Ex 
Parte and Inter Partes Reexamination

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rule making.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is 
proposing changes to the rules of practice relating to ex parte and 
inter partes reexamination. The Office is proposing to provide for a 
patent owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination or an 
inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner's decision on the 
request. The Office is also proposing to prohibit supplemental patent 
owner responses to an Office action in an inter partes reexamination 
without a showing of sufficient cause. The Office additionally proposes 
to designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correct 
address for all communications for patent owners in an ex parte 
reexamination or an inter partes reexamination, and to simplify the 
filing of reexamination papers by providing for the use of a single 
``mail stop'' address for the filing of substantially all ex parte 
reexamination papers (such is already the case for inter partes 
reexamination papers). The Office is further proposing to make 
miscellaneous clarifying changes as to terminology and applicability of 
the reexamination rules.
    Comment Deadline Date: To be ensured of consideration, written 
comments must be received on or before May 30, 2006. No public hearing 
will be held.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent by electronic mail over the Internet 
addressed to: AB77.comments@uspto.gov. Comments may also be submitted 
by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments--Patents, Commissioner for 
Patents, PO Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; or by facsimile to 
(571) 273-7710, marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor, Senior 
Legal Advisor. Although comments may be submitted by mail or facsimile, 
the Office prefers to receive comments via the Internet. If comments 
are submitted by mail, the Office prefers that the comments be 
submitted on a DOS formatted 3\1/2\ inch disk accompanied by a paper 
copy.
    Comments may also be sent by electronic mail message over the 
Internet via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal Web site (http://www.regulations.gov) for additional 
instructions on providing comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    The comments will be available for public inspection at the Office 
of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for 
Patent Examination Policy, currently located at Room MDW 07D74 of 
Madison West, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450, and 
will be available through anonymous file transfer protocol (ftp) via 
the Internet (address: http://www.uspto.gov). Since comments will be 
made available for public inspection, information that is not desired 
to be made public, such as an address or phone number, should not be 
included in the comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: By telephone--Kenneth M. Schor, at 
(571) 272-7710 or Robert J. Spar at (571) 272-7700; by mail addressed 
to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Mail Stop Comments--Patents, 
Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450, 
marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor; by facsimile transmission 
to (571) 273-7710 marked to the attention of Kenneth M. Schor; or by 
electronic mail message over the Internet addressed to 
kenneth.schor@uspto.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office is proposing changes to the rules 
of practice relating to ex parte and inter partes as follows:
    Proposal I: To provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an 
ex parte reexamination or an inter partes reexamination prior to the 
examiner's decision on the request.
    Proposal II: To prohibit supplemental patent owner responses to an 
Office action in an inter partes reexamination without a showing of 
sufficient cause.
    Proposal III: To designate the correspondence address for the 
patent as the correct address for all notices, official letters, and 
other communications for patent owners in an ex parte reexamination or 
an inter partes reexamination. Also, to simplify the filing of 
reexamination papers by providing for the use of ``Mail Stop Ex Parte 
Reexam'' for the filing of all ex parte reexamination papers (not just 
ex parte reexamination requests), other than certain correspondence to 
the Office of the General Counsel.

[[Page 16073]]

    Proposal IV: To make miscellaneous clarifying changes as to the 
terminology and applicability of the reexamination rules, and to 
correct inadvertent errors in the text of certain reexamination rules.

Discussion of Proposals I through IV

    Proposal I. To Provide for a Patent Owner Reply to a Request for 
Reexamination Prior to Decision on the Request: Since the inception of 
reexamination, a patent owner whose patent is challenged by a third 
party request for reexamination has not been afforded an opportunity to 
comment on the request prior to the examiner's decision on the request. 
This is equally so for both ex parte reexamination and inter partes 
reexamination. Under Sec.  1.530(a), ``[e]xcept as provided in Sec.  
1.510(e), no statement or other response by the patent owner in an ex 
parte reexamination proceeding shall be filed prior to the 
determinations made in accordance with Sec.  1.515 or Sec.  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.'' 
Under Sec.  1.540, ``[n]o submissions other than the statement pursuant 
to Sec.  1.530 and the reply by the ex parte reexamination requester 
pursuant to Sec.  1.535 will be considered prior to examination.'' 
Under Sec.  1.939(b), [u]nless otherwise authorized, no paper shall be 
filed prior to the initial Office action on the merits of the inter 
partes reexamination.
    The rule making history for Sec.  1.530(a) addressed the Office's 
rationale for the regulatory prohibition of a patent owner response to 
a request (prior to the examiner's decision on the request) in a 
hearing report issued by the Office, which stated that ``several 
persons felt that the patent owner should be allowed to comment before 
the decision [on the request] under Sec.  1.515 is made. Providing for 
such a comment would delay the decision under Sec.  1.515 which must be 
made within three months * * *.'' See Rules of Practice in Patent 
Cases; Reexamination Proceedings, 46 FR 29176, 29179 (May 29, 1981) 
(final rule). In Patlex Corp. v. Mossinghoff, 771 F.2d 480, 226 USPQ 
985 (Fed. Cir. 1985), the propriety of the Office's regulatory 
prohibition of a patent owner response to a request prior to the 
decision on the request was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 
Federal Circuit (hereinafter--the Federal Circuit). The Office argued 
in Patlex that this regulatory prohibition was adopted in the interest 
of efficiency, in view of the three-month deadline set by Congress in 
35 U.S.C. 303. The Office pointed out that the only purpose of the 
decision on the request is to decide whether reexamination should go 
forward at all, not to decide how any new question of patentability 
ultimately will be answered. The Patlex court supported the Office in 
this matter based upon the agency's (Office's) expression of a need for 
administrative convenience.
    Recently, however, the Office initiated a program to process and 
examine all new reexamination proceedings in one Central Reexamination 
Unit (the CRU). This is expected to permit increased efficiency in 
deciding new requests for reexamination to the point where a patent 
owner response to a request (prior to the examiner's decision on the 
request) can be accommodated, while continuing to comply with the 
statutory mandate to decide requests for reexamination within three 
months. Accordingly, the Office is proposing to provide for a patent 
owner reply to a request for an ex parte reexamination or an inter 
partes reexamination prior to the examiner's decision on the request. 
Such a patent owner reply would address patentee concerns as to their 
current inability to address a request prior to an order. Further, the 
patent owner's input could improve the information/evidence and 
understanding of the issues before the examiner deciding the request. 
That input should serve the purpose of reducing improper/unnecessary 
orders and providing more timely patent owner responses on the record 
to third party allegations. This proposal should enable the Office to 
be better able to weed out those requests that do not raise a 
substantial question of patentability, prior to instituting a full-
blown proceeding. Bringing the issues to light earlier via such a 
patent owner response to the request should facilitate the 
reexamination process pursuant to special dispatch.
    As a final point, in order to address the statutory mandate to 
decide all requests for reexamination within three months, the content 
and time for filing the patent owner's response (to the request) will 
be strictly limited. This should enable the Office to comply with the 
statute, while obtaining the benefits of the patent owner's comments 
prior to deciding the request.
    This proposal involves providing new sections Sec.  1.512 and Sec.  
1.921, and revising Sec.  1.510(b), Sec.  1.515(a), Sec.  1.530(a), 
Sec.  1.915(b) and Sec.  1.923.
    Proposal II. To Prohibit Supplemental Patent Owner Responses to an 
Office Action Without a Showing of Sufficient Cause: The Office is 
proposing to amend Sec.  1.945 to provide that a patent owner 
supplemental response (which can be filed to address a third party 
requester's comments on patent owner's initial response to an Office 
action) will be entered only where the patent owner has made a showing 
of sufficient cause as to why the supplemental response should be 
entered.
    Pursuant to Sec.  1.937(b), an inter partes reexamination 
proceeding is ``conducted in accordance with Sec. Sec.  1.104 through 
1.116, the sections governing the application examination process * * * 
except as otherwise provided * * * '' Thus, a patent owner's response 
to an Office action is governed by Sec.  1.111. Prior to the revision 
of Sec.  1.111(a)(2) implemented via the final rule, Changes To Support 
Implementation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 21st 
Century Strategic Plan, 69 FR 56482 (Sept. 21, 2004), 1287 Off. Gaz. 
Pat. Office 67 (Oct. 12, 2004) (final rule), a patent owner could, in 
effect, file an unlimited number of supplemental responses to an Office 
action for an inter partes reexamination proceeding, thereby delaying 
prosecution. The changes to Sec.  1.111(a)(2) made in the Strategic 
Plan final rule, in effect, addressed this undesirable consequence of 
the rules in inter partes reexamination by providing that a reply (or 
response, in reexamination) which is supplemental to a Sec.  1.111(b) 
compliant reply will not be entered as a matter of right (with the 
exception of a supplemental reply filed while action by the Office is 
suspended under Sec.  1.103(a) or (c)). Section 1.111(a)(2)(i), as 
implemented in the Strategic Plan final rule, however, also provides 
that ``the Office may enter'' a supplemental response to an Office 
action under certain conditions. Thus, a patent owner's supplemental 
response that provides additional information, or one that further 
amends the claims, could be argued to ``simplify the issues for 
appeal'' and thereby satisfy Sec.  1.111(a)(2)(i)(F), or the 
supplemental response might be limited to ``cancellation of claims'' 
(to satisfy Sec.  1.111(a)(2)(i)(A)), or ``adoption of the examiner 
suggestions'' (to satisfy Sec.  1.111(a)(2)(i)(B)). Even a supplemental 
response that answers the third party requester comments might, in some 
instances, be argued to ``simplify the issues for appeal.'' Whether or 
not the supplemental response should be entered is then a question to 
be decided by the Office. In order to fully inform both the Office and 
the requester (so that the requester can provide rebuttal in its 
comments) as to why patent owner deems a supplemental response to be

[[Page 16074]]

worthy of entry, it is proposed that the rules be revised to require a 
patent owner showing of sufficient cause why entry should be permitted 
to accompany any supplemental response by the patent owner. The showing 
of sufficient cause would be required to provide: (1) A detailed 
explanation of how the criteria of Sec.  1.111(a)(2)(i) is satisfied; 
(2) an explanation of why the supplemental response could not have been 
presented together with the original response to the Office action; and 
(3) a compelling reason to enter the supplemental response.
    This proposal would permit the entry of a supplemental response to 
an Office action where there is a valid reason for it, and a showing to 
that effect is made by the patent owner. At the same time, it would 
provide the Office and the requester with notice of patent owner's 
reasons for desiring entry and permit the requester to rebut patent 
owner's stated position.
    This proposal involves Sec.  1.945.
    Proposal III. Reexamination Correspondence: 1. The Patent Owner's 
Address of Record: Currently, all notices, official letters, and other 
communications for patent owners in a reexamination proceeding must be 
directed to the attorney or agent of record (see Sec.  1.33(c)) in the 
patent file at the address listed on the register of patent attorneys 
and agents maintained pursuant to Sec.  11.5 and Sec.  11.11 (unless 
there is no attorney or agent of record, in which case the patent 
owner(s) address(es) of record are used). The Office has been receiving 
reexamination filings where the request has been served on the patent 
owner at the correspondence address under Sec.  1.33(a) that is a 
correct address for the patent, rather than at the patent owner address 
prescribed in Sec.  1.33(c) for use in reexamination. This has been 
occurring because the Sec.  1.33(a) address is the address used for 
correspondence during the pendency of applications, as well as post-
grant correspondence in patents maturing from such applications. 
Further, even if a potential reexamination requester realizes that the 
address indicated by Sec.  1.33(c) is the proper patent owner address 
to use, patent practitioners occasionally move from one firm to 
another, and the potential reexamination requester is then faced with 
two (or more) Sec.  1.33(c) addresses for the practitioners of record; 
the requester must decide which practitioner address to serve. Finally, 
the Sec.  1.33(c) address might not be kept up-to-date, while a 
practitioner or patent owner is likely to be inclined to keep the Sec.  
1.33(a) address up-to-date for prompt receipt of notices as to the 
patent. The Office of Enrollment and Discipline regularly has mail 
returned because the register of patent attorneys and agents maintained 
pursuant to Sec.  11.5 and Sec.  11.11 is not up-to-date. Thus, the 
Sec.  1.33(a) correspondence address for the patent provides a better 
or more reliable option for the patent owner's address than does the 
register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to Sec.  
11.5 and Sec.  11.11 (the reexamination address for the patent owner 
presently called for by Sec.  1.33(c)).
    It is to be noted that a change to the correspondence address may 
be filed with the Office during the enforceable life of the patent, and 
the correspondence address will be used in any correspondence relating 
to maintenance fees unless a separate fee address has been specified. 
See Sec.  1.33(d). A review of randomly selected recent listings of 
inter partes reexamination filings reflected that all had an attorney 
or agent of record for the related patents. There were an average of 
18.6 attorneys or agents of record for the patents, and for those 
attorneys, an average of 3.8 addresses (according to the register of 
patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to Sec.  11.5 and Sec.  
11.11). Although for half of the patents, all of the attorneys or 
agents had the same address, one patent had 77 attorneys and agents of 
record, and the register reflects 18 different addresses for these 
practitioners. In such a patent with many different attorneys and 
agents of record, and many of the practitioners being in different 
states, mailing a notice related to a reexamination proceeding for the 
patent to an attorney or agent of record in the patented file, even the 
attorney or agent most recently made of record (e.g., the attorney with 
the highest registration number), is likely to result in correspondence 
not being received by the appropriate party. Since the correspondence 
address of the patent file is used for maintenance fee correspondence, 
if a fee address is not specified, patent owners already have an 
incentive to keep the correspondence address for a patented file up-to-
date.
    Given the choice of relying on either the correspondence address 
for the patent or the address for the attorney/agent of record per the 
register of patent attorneys and agents (as is presently the case), it 
is more reasonable to rely on the correspondence address for the 
patent. The patentee should be responsible for updating the 
correspondence address for the patent, and if the patentee does not, 
then the patentee should bear the risk of a terminated reexamination 
prosecution due to the failure to respond to an Office action sent to 
an obsolete address. Further, use of the correspondence address for the 
patent will provide a potential reexamination requester and the Office 
with one simple address to work with, and the requester and the Office 
will not be confused in the situations where attorneys move from firm 
to firm (as that has become more common). The correspondence address 
for the patents is available in public PAIR (Patent Application 
Information Retrieval), so that a requester need only click on the 
address button for the patent, and he/she will know what address to 
use.
    The present proposal would accordingly revise Sec.  1.33(c) to 
designate the correspondence address for the patent as the correct 
address for all notices, official letters, and other communications for 
patent owners in reexamination proceedings.
    If the present proposal is implemented, the correspondence address 
for any pending reexamination proceeding not having the same 
correspondence address as that of the patent file will automatically be 
changed, by rule, to that of the patent file. For any such proceeding, 
it would be strongly encouraged (at that point) that the patent owner 
should affirmatively file a Notification of Change of Correspondence 
Address in the reexamination proceeding to conform the address of the 
proceeding with that of the patent. While the correspondence address 
change would automatically be effected (by rule) even if the patent 
owner notification is not filed, such a patent owner notification would 
clarify the record, and would address the possibility that, absent such 
a patent owner notification, correspondence may inadvertently be mailed 
to an incorrect address causing a delay in the prosecution.
    This aspect of the proposal involves Sec.  1.33.
    2. Reexamination correspondence addressed to the Office: In the 
final rule Changes to Implement the 2002 Inter Partes Reexamination and 
Other Technical Amendments to the Patent Statute, 68 FR 70996 (Dec. 22, 
2003), 1278 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 218 (Jan. 20, 2004), Sec.  1.1(c) was 
amended to provide separate mail stops for ex parte reexamination 
proceedings and inter partes reexamination proceedings. See Sec.  
1.1(c). As per that rule making, the mail stop for ex parte 
reexamination proceedings can only be used for the original request 
papers for ex parte reexamination. The new mail stop for inter partes 
reexamination, on the other hand, includes both original request papers 
and all subsequent

[[Page 16075]]

correspondence filed in the Office (other than correspondence to the 
Office of the General Counsel pursuant to Sec.  1.1(a)(3) and Sec.  
1.302(c)), because the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) was, and is, 
the central receiving area for all inter partes reexamination 
proceeding papers. The CRU has now also become the central receiving 
area for all ex parte reexamination proceeding papers. Accordingly, it 
is proposed to simplify the filing of reexamination papers by 
permitting the use of ``Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam'' for the filing of 
all ex parte reexamination follow-on papers (not just ex parte 
reexamination requests), other than correspondence to the Office of the 
General Counsel pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.1(a)(3) and 1.302(c)).
    This aspect of the proposal involves Sec.  1.1(c).
    Correspondence relating to all reexamination proceedings is best 
handled at one central location where Office personnel have specific 
expertise in reexamination because of the unique nature of 
reexamination proceedings. That central location is the CRU.
    Proposal IV. Clarifying Changes as to Reexamination Rule 
Terminology and Applicability, and Correction of Inadvertent Errors in 
the Text of Certain Reexamination Rules: The Office is proposing 
miscellaneous clarifying changes as to the terminology and 
applicability of the reexamination rules. The rule changes of sub-parts 
1 and 2 below were proposed in the Changes To Support Implementation of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office 21st Century Strategic 
Plan, 68 FR 53816 (Sept. 12, 2003), 1275 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 23 (Oct. 
7, 2003) (notice of proposed rule making) (hereinafter the Strategic 
Plan Proposed Rule). The Office did not proceed with those changes in 
the final rule Changes To Support Implementation of the United States 
Patent and Trademark Office 21st Century Strategic Plan, 69 FR 56482 ( 
Sept. 21, 2004), 1287 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 67 (Oct. 12, 2004) (final 
rule) (hereinafter the Strategic Plan Final Rule). The Office is re-
presenting those proposals after further consideration and in view of 
the changes somewhat more recently made by the final rule Rules of 
Practice Before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences 69 FR 
49960 (Aug. 12, 2004), 1286 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 21 (Sept. 7, 2004) 
(final rule) (hereinafter, the Appeals final rule). The essential 
substance of all change proposals set forth in Proposal IV, sub-parts 1 
and 2, remains as it was in the Strategic Plan Proposed Rule. The four 
revisions proposed in Proposal IV are set forth as follows:
    1. It is proposed that the rules be amended to clarify that the 
patent owner's failure to file a timely response in an ex parte or 
inter partes reexamination proceeding will terminate the prosecution of 
the reexamination proceeding, but will not terminate or conclude the 
reexamination proceeding itself. It is the issuance and publication of 
a reexamination certificate that concludes the reexamination 
proceeding. This distinction is important, because a reexamination 
prosecution which is terminated may be reopened at the option of the 
Director where appropriate. For example, a rejection that was withdrawn 
during the proceeding may be reinstated after the prosecution has 
terminated where the propriety of that rejection has been reconsidered. 
In contrast, a reexamination proceeding which has been concluded is not 
subject to being reopened. After the reexamination proceeding has been 
concluded, the Office is not permitted to reinstate the exact same 
ground of rejection in a reexamination proceeding, where the same 
question of patentability is raised by the prior art that is the basis 
of the rejection. See Sec.  13105, part (a), of the Patent and 
Trademark Office Authorization Act of 2002, enacted in Public Law 107-
273, 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization 
Act, 116 Stat. 1758 (2002).
    This distinction between terminating the prosecution of the 
reexamination proceeding, and the conclusion of the reexamination 
proceeding, was highlighted by the Federal Circuit decision of In re 
Bass, 314 F.3d 575, 577, 65 USPQ2d 1156, 1157 (Fed. Cir. 2003), wherein 
the Court indicated that:

    Until a matter has been completed, however, the PTO may 
reconsider an earlier action. See In re Borkowski, 505 F.2d 713, 
718, 184 USPQ 29, 32-33 (CCPA 1974). A reexamination is complete 
upon the statutorily mandated issuance of a reexamination 
certificate, 35 U.S.C. 307(a); the NIRC merely notifies the 
applicant of the PTO's intent to issue a certificate. A NIRC does 
not wrest jurisdiction from the PTO precluding further review of the 
matter.

    It is to be noted that both Notice of Intent to Issue Reexamination 
Certificate (NIRC) cover sheet forms, i.e., ex parte reexamination Form 
PTOL 469 and inter partes reexamination Form PTOL 2068, specifically 
state (in their opening sentences) that ``[p]rosecution on the merits 
is (or remains) closed in this * * * reexamination proceeding. This 
proceeding is subject to reopening at the initiative of the Office, or 
upon petition.'' This statement in both forms makes the point that the 
NIRC terminates the prosecution in the reexamination proceeding (if 
prosecution has not already been terminated, e.g., via failure to 
respond), but does not terminate or conclude the reexamination 
proceeding itself. Rather, it is the issuance and publication of the 
reexamination certificate that concludes the reexamination proceeding. 
The rules would be revised accordingly.
    Definitional Consideration: In the Strategic Plan Proposed Rule, 
the terminology used was that a patent owner's failure to file a timely 
response in a reexamination proceeding (and the issuance of the NIRC) 
would ``conclude'' the prosecution of the reexamination proceeding, but 
would not terminate the reexamination proceeding, and the issuance and 
publication of a reexamination certificate would ``terminate'' the 
reexamination proceeding. This usage of ``conclude'' and ``terminate'' 
has been reconsidered, however, and the usage of the terms has been 
reversed to be consistent with the way the Office defines 
``termination,'' as can be observed in the recent Appeals final rule 
(supra.). It is to be noted that the patent statute, in 35 U.S.C. 
307(a), states for ex parte reexamination (35 U.S.C. 316 contains an 
analogous statement for inter partes reexamination): ``In a 
reexamination proceeding under this chapter, when the time for appeal 
has expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director will 
issue and publish a certificate canceling any claim of the patent 
finally determined to be unpatentable, confirming any claim of the 
patent determined to be patentable, and incorporating in the patent any 
proposed amended or new claim determined to be patentable.'' (Emphasis 
added).
    Thus, after the appeal proceeding in the reexamination is 
terminated (which terminates the prosecution in the reexamination), the 
reexamination proceeding is concluded by the issuance and publication 
of the reexamination certificate.
    It is further observed that in the Appeals final rule, Sec.  
1.116(c) states that ``[t]he admission of, or refusal to admit, any 
amendment after a final rejection, a final action, an action closing 
prosecution, or any related proceedings will not operate to relieve the 
* * * reexamination prosecution from termination under Sec.  1.550(d) 
or Sec.  1.957(b) * * *.'' The use of ``termination of the 
prosecution'' where the reexamination proceeding has not concluded is 
consistent with the presentation in Sec.  1.116(c) in the Appeals final 
rule. As a further indication in the

[[Page 16076]]

Appeals final rule, Sec.  1.197(a) discusses the passing of 
jurisdiction over an application or patent under ex parte reexamination 
proceeding to the examiner after a decision by the Board of Patent 
Appeals and Interferences, and Sec.  1.197(b) then states that 
``[p]roceedings on an application are considered terminated by the 
dismissal of an appeal or the failure to timely file an appeal to the 
court or a civil action (Sec.  1.304) except * * *.'' Thus, the 
termination (of the appeal) does not signify the completion of an 
application or reexamination proceeding. Rather, the application then 
continues until patenting or abandonment, and the reexamination 
continues until issuance of the reexamination certificate; at that 
point these proceedings are concluded.
    The above changes would be directed to Sec. Sec.  1.502, 1.550, 
1.565(d), 1.570, 1.902, 1.953, 1.957, 1.958, 1.979, 1.991, 1.997, and 
41.4.
    2. Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 307(a), ``when the time for appeal has 
expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director will 
issue and publish a certificate * * *'' (emphasis added) for an ex 
parte reexamination proceeding. Likewise, for an inter partes 
reexamination, 35 U.S.C. 316(a) states that ``when the time for appeal 
has expired or any appeal proceeding has terminated, the Director shall 
issue and publish a certificate'' (emphasis added). Accordingly, any 
reexamination proceeding is concluded when the reexamination 
certificate has been issued and published. It is at that point in time 
that the Office no longer has jurisdiction over the patent which has 
been reexamined.
    Sections 1.570 and 1.997 are the sections that implement the 
statutory ex parte and inter partes reexamination certificates, 
respectively. The titles of Sec. Sec.  1.570 and 1.997, as well as 
paragraphs (b) and (d) in both sections, currently refer to the 
issuance of the reexamination certificate, but fail to refer to the 
publication of the certificate. The titles of Sec. Sec.  1.570 and 
1.997, as well as paragraphs (b) and (d), are proposed to be revised to 
track the language of 35 U.S.C. 307 and 35 U.S.C. 316, and refer to 
both issuance and publication, to thereby make it clear in the rules 
when the reexamination proceeding is concluded. The other reexamination 
rules containing language referring to the issuance of the 
reexamination certificate would likewise be revised.
    The above changes would be directed to Sec. Sec.  1.502, 1.530, 
1.550, 1.565(c), 1.570, 1.902, 1.953, 1.957, 1.979, and 1.997.
    3. In Sec.  1.137, the introductory text of paragraphs (a) and (b) 
states ``a reexamination proceeding terminated under Sec. Sec.  
1.550(d) or 1.957(b) or (c).'' [Emphasis added]. As pointed out in the 
discussion of the first sub-proposal, when the patent owner fails to 
timely respond, it is actually the prosecution of the reexamination 
that is terminated under Sec.  1.550(d) for ex parte reexamination, or 
is terminated under Sec.  1.957(b) for inter partes reexamination. For 
the Sec.  1.957(c) scenario, however, the prosecution of the inter 
partes reexamination proceeding is not terminated when the patent owner 
fails to timely respond pursuant to Sec.  1.957(c). Rather, an Office 
action is issued to permit the third party requester to challenge the 
claims found patentable (as to any matter where the requester has 
preserved the right of such a challenge), and the prosecution is 
``limited to the claims found patentable at the time of the failure to 
respond, and to any claims added thereafter which do not expand the 
scope of the claims which were found patentable at that time.'' Section 
1.957(c).
    It is proposed that the introductory text of Sec.  1.137(a) and 
Sec.  1.137(b) be revised to also provide for the situation where the 
prosecution is ``limited'' pursuant to Sec.  1.957(c) (and the 
prosecution of the reexamination is not ``terminated''). It is also 
proposed that Sec.  1.137(e) be revised consistent with Sec.  1.137(a) 
and Sec.  1.137(b).
    It is noted that Sec.  1.957(c) does, in fact, result in the 
``terminating'' of reexamination prosecution as to the non-patentable 
claims (under Sec.  1.957(b), on the other hand, prosecution is 
terminated in toto). It would be confusing, however, to refer to a 
termination of reexamination prosecution in the Sec.  1.957(c) 
scenario, since the limited termination as to the non-patentable claims 
could easily be confused with the termination of the entirety of the 
prosecution of Sec.  1.957(b). Accordingly, the Sec.  1.957(c) 
``limitation'' of the scope of the remaining claims is the language 
deemed better suited for use in the rules.
    The above changes would be directed to Sec. Sec.  1.8, 1.137 and 
41.4 (Sec. Sec.  1.8 and 41.4 contain language which tracks that of 
Sec.  1.137(a) and Sec.  1.137(b), and would thus be revised 
accordingly).
    4. Pursuant to Sec.  1.8(b), a remedy is provided for having 
correspondence considered to be timely filed, where correspondence was 
mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph Sec.  1.8(a) but not 
timely received in the Office, and ``the application is held to be 
abandoned or the proceeding is dismissed, terminated, or decided with 
prejudice.'' Such a remedy is not, however, explicitly provided for in 
an inter partes reexamination proceeding where correspondence was 
mailed or transmitted in accordance with paragraph Sec.  1.8(a), but 
not timely received in the Office. In that case, pursuant to Sec.  
1.957(c), the reexamination prosecution is not terminated, but is 
rather ``limited to the claims found patentable at the time of the 
failure to respond, and to any claims added thereafter which do not 
expand the scope of the claims which were found patentable at that 
time.'' Therefore, it could appear that Sec.  1.8(b) does not apply to 
the Sec.  1.957(c) scenario. Therefore, Sec.  1.8(b) is proposed to be 
revised to explicitly provide the Sec.  1.8(b) remedy for the Sec.  
1.957(c) scenario as well.
    In addition, the certificate of mailing and transmission is 
available to an inter partes reexamination third party requester filing 
papers. See MPEP Sec. Sec.  2624 and 2666.05. Just as a Sec.  1.8(b) 
remedy would be provided for the patent owner in the Sec.  1.957(b) and 
(c) scenarios, it would also be provided for the requester in the Sec.  
1.957(a) scenario.
    The above change would be directed to Sec.  1.8.
    5. The final rule Rules of Practice Before the Board of Patent 
Appeals and Interferences 69 FR 49960 (Aug. 12, 2004), 1286 Off. Gaz. 
Pat. Office 21 (Sept. 7, 2004) (final rule) revised the reexamination 
appeal rules to remove and reserve Sec. Sec.  1.961 to 1.977. In 
addition, Sec. Sec.  1.959, 1.979, 1.993 were revised and new 
Sec. Sec.  41.60 through 41.81 were added. Revision of some of the 
reexamination rules referring to these sections was inadvertently not 
made. It is proposed to make those changes. Further, it is proposed 
that Sec. Sec.  1.510(f) and 1.915(c) be revised to change Sec.  
1.34(a) to Sec.  1.34, to update the sections to conform with the 
revision of Sec.  1.34 made in final rule Revision of Power of Attorney 
and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 26, 2004) (final rule).
    It is further proposed that Sec.  1.33(c) be revised to add 
``Amendments and other papers filed in a reexamination proceeding on 
behalf of the patent owner must be signed by the patent owner, or if 
there is more than one owner by all the owners, or by an attorney or 
agent of record in the patent file, or by a registered attorney or 
agent not of record who acts in a representative capacity under the 
provisions of Sec.  1.34. Double correspondence with the patent owner 
or owners and the patent owner's attorney or agent, or with more than 
one attorney or agent, will not be undertaken.'' These two sentences 
were inadvertently deleted from Sec.  1.33(c) via the final rule 
Changes to Representation

[[Page 16077]]

of Others Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 69 FR 
35428, 35452 (June 24, 2004) (final rule).
    This aspect of the proposal involves Sec. Sec.  1.33(c), 1.510(f), 
1.915(c), 1.953(b), 1.983(a), and 1.991.

Section-by-Section Discussion

    Section 1.1: It is proposed, pursuant to Proposal III, to amend 
Sec.  1.1(c)(1) to provide for use of ``Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam'' for 
the filing of all ex parte reexamination follow-on papers (not just ex 
parte reexamination requests), other than certain correspondence to the 
Office of the General Counsel. Section 1.1 would be amended by revising 
paragraph (c)(1) from its current reading ``Requests for ex parte 
reexamination (original request papers only) should be additionally 
marked `Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam' '' to read ``Requests for ex parte 
reexamination (original request papers) and all subsequent ex parte 
reexamination correspondence filed in the Office, other than 
correspondence to the Office of the General Counsel pursuant to Sec.  
1.1(a)(3) and Sec.  1.302(c), should be additionally marked `Mail Stop 
Ex Parte Reexam.' ''
    Section 1.8: Section 1.8(b) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to 
Proposal IV, to recite ``In the event that correspondence is considered 
timely filed by being mailed or transmitted in accordance with 
paragraph (a) of this section, but not received in the * * * Office 
after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed from the time of mailing 
or transmitting of the correspondence * * * or the prosecution of a 
reexamination proceeding is terminated pursuant to Sec.  1.550(d) or 
Sec.  1.957(b) or limited pursuant to Sec.  1.957(c), or a requester 
paper is refused consideration pursuant to Sec.  1.957(a), the 
correspondence will be considered timely if the party who forwarded 
such correspondence * * *.''
    The language ``the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is 
terminated'' (for Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) and 1.957(b)) clarifies that the 
reexamination proceeding is not concluded under Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) or 
1.957(b), but rather, the prosecution of the reexamination is 
terminated.
    The language ``or the prosecution of a reexamination proceeding is 
* * * limited pursuant to Sec.  1.957(c)'' more appropriately sets 
forth that the Sec.  1.8(b) remedy is applied to avoid the Sec.  
1.957(c) consequences of a patent owner failure to respond in an inter 
partes reexamination.
    The language ``or a requester paper is refused consideration 
pursuant to Sec.  1.957(a)'' more appropriately sets forth that the 
Sec.  1.8(b) remedy is applied to avoid the Sec.  1.957(a) consequences 
of a failure to file a requester paper in an inter partes 
reexamination.
    Section 1.17: Sections 1.17(l) and (m) are proposed to be revised, 
pursuant to Proposal IV, to clarify that a reexamination proceeding is 
not concluded under Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) or 1.957(b), but rather, the 
prosecution of a reexamination is terminated under Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) 
or 1.957(b), or reexamination prosecution is limited under Sec.  
1.957(c). No change is being proposed as to the fee amounts.
    Section 1.33: It is proposed that Sec.  1.33(c) be revised, 
pursuant to Proposal III, to replace ``the attorney or agent of record 
(see Sec.  1.34(b)) in the patent file at the address listed on the 
register of patent attorneys and agents maintained pursuant to 
Sec. Sec.  11.5 and 11.11 or, if no attorney or agent is of record, to 
the patent owner or owners at the address or addresses of record'' with 
``correspondence address.'' As proposed to be revised, all notices, 
official letters, and other communications for the patent owner or 
owners in a reexamination proceeding will be directed to the 
correspondence address for the patent. As previously discussed, a 
change to the correspondence address may be filed with the Office 
during the enforceable life of the patent. It is further proposed, 
pursuant to Proposal IV, that Sec.  1.33(c) be revised to add 
``Amendments and other papers filed in a reexamination proceeding on 
behalf of the patent owner must be signed by the patent owner, or if 
there is more than one owner by all the owners, or by an attorney or 
agent of record in the patent file, or by a registered attorney or 
agent not of record who acts in a representative capacity under the 
provisions of Sec.  1.34. Double correspondence with the patent owner 
or owners and the patent owner's attorney or agent, or with more than 
one attorney or agent, will not be undertaken.''
    Section 1.137: Sections 1.137(a), (b), and (e) are proposed to be 
amended, pursuant to Proposal IV, to more appropriately set forth the 
Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) and 1.957(b) consequences of the patent owner's 
failure to make a required response. To do so, the introductory text of 
Sec.  1.137(a) and Sec.  1.137(b) is proposed to be revised to recite 
``a reexamination prosecution becoming terminated under Sec. Sec.  
1.550(d) or 1.957(b)'' (emphasis added), rather than ``a reexamination 
proceeding becoming terminated under Sec. Sec.  1.550(d) or 1.957(b)'' 
(emphasis added). In Sec.  1.137(e), ``a concluded ex parte 
reexamination prosecution'' and ``a concluded inter partes 
reexamination prosecution'' is proposed to be inserted in place of ``a 
terminated ex parte reexamination proceeding'' and ``a terminated inter 
partes reexamination proceeding'', respectively.
    Sections 1.137(a), (b) and (e) are proposed to be amended to 
clarify that the reexamination proceedings under Sec.  1.957(c) 
referred to in Sec. Sec.  1.137(b) and (c) are limited as to further 
prosecution; the prosecution is not terminated. To make this 
clarification, the introductory text portions of Sec.  1.137(a) and 
Sec.  1.137(b) are proposed to be revised to recite that the 
prosecution is ``limited under Sec.  1.957(c),'' rather than 
``terminated.'' Section 1.137(e) is proposed to be revised to also 
refer to ``revival'' of ``an inter partes reexamination limited as to 
further prosecution.''
    Section 1.502: Section 1.502 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to 
Proposal IV, to state that the ``reexamination proceeding'' is 
``concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination 
certificate.'' That is the point at which citations (having an entry 
right in the patent) which were filed after the order of ex parte 
reexamination will be placed in the patent file.
    Section 1.510: It is proposed that Sec.  1.510(b)(5) be revised, 
pursuant to Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new 
Sec.  1.512 discussed below. In order to provide the patent owner with 
a maximized amount of time to file a reply under Sec.  1.512 to a third 
party request, the request must be served on the patent owner by 
facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight 
delivery, as opposed to first class mail. Accordingly, Sec.  
1.510(b)(5) would be revised to require that the request include a 
certification in accordance with Sec.  1.248(b) by the third party 
requester that a copy of the request was served in its entirety on the 
patent owner at the address as provided for in Sec.  1.33(c) by 
facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight. The 
name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service on 
the patent owner was not possible, then a duplicate copy must be 
supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the 
request until either the certification by the requester is received, or 
the Office serves the supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner.
    It is further proposed that Sec.  1.510(f) be revised, pursuant to 
Proposal IV, to change Sec.  1.34(a) to Sec.  1.34. This change would 
update the section to conform with the revision of Sec.  1.34 made in 
Revision of Power of Attorney and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 
26, 2004) (final rule).

[[Page 16078]]

    Section 1.512: Pursuant to Proposal I, it is proposed to provide 
new Sec.  1.512 to provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an 
ex parte reexamination prior to the examiner's decision on the request.
    Section 1.512(a) would permit a reply to a third party ex parte 
reexamination request under Sec.  1.510 to be filed by the patent owner 
within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the 
patent owner. Since the statute requires that the decision on the 
request be issued within three months following the filing of a request 
for reexamination, this thirty-day period is not extendable. It is 
strongly encouraged that any patent owner reply to a request be faxed 
directly to the CRU to ensure receipt and matching with the 
reexamination proceeding prior to the examiner's decision on the 
request.
    It is to be noted that this provision for patent owner reply to a 
request does not apply to Director ordered reexaminations and patent 
owner requested reexaminations. It does not apply to Director ordered 
reexaminations, since there is no request for reexamination. It does 
not apply to patent owner requested reexaminations, since the patent 
owner can place all of its comments in its request.
    Section 1.512(a) would also require that any reply to a request by 
the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in 
accordance with Sec.  1.248. Service on the requester of all patent 
owner papers is required in a third party requested reexamination.
    Section 1.512(b) would require (1) that the total reply to the 
request not exceed fifty total pages in length excluding evidence and 
reference materials such as prior art references, (2) that the form of 
the reply must be in accordance with the requirements of Sec.  1.52, 
and (3) that the reply must not include any proposed amendment of the 
claims. Fifty pages is deemed a sufficient upper limit for the patent 
owner's rebuttal of the requester's case, and an excessive length would 
only delay the process. Section 1.512(b) would also require that the 
reply not include any proposed amendment of the claims. The 
determination on whether to order reexamination is made on the patent 
claims as they exist at the filing of the request; thus there is no 
need for an amendment at this point in the process, and again, an 
amendment would only delay the process.
    Section 1.512(c) would provide that the reply will be considered 
only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request 
for reexamination. Although a reply that does not solely relate to the 
issues raised in the request will not be returned to the patent owner, 
any portion of the reply that does not relate to the issues raised in 
the request will not be considered, and comments will not be provided 
by the Office as to what was not considered.
    Section 1.512(c) would further provide for the returning or 
discarding of the reply papers, if the reply to the request: is not 
timely filed, fails to comply with Sec.  1.512(b), or fails to include 
a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in 
accordance with Sec.  1.248. In these instances, the reply will be 
returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office's option) 
without consideration. Further, there will be no opportunity to file a 
supplemental reply, given the time constraints discussed above.
    Section 1.512(d) would provide that the third party requester may 
not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, 
and that any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded 
(at the Office's option) without consideration. There is no need for a 
further requester paper at this point, since, if reexamination is 
denied, third party requester will continue to have (pursuant to Sec.  
1.515(c)) the right to seek review by a petition under Sec.  1.181 
within one month of the mailing date of the examiner's determination 
refusing reexamination. At that point, the requester can address the 
patent owner reply to the request.
    Section 1.515(a): Section 1.515(a) is proposed to be amended, 
pursuant to Proposal IV, as a conformatory change with respect to new 
Sec.  1.512. Section 1.515(a) would be revised to state that the 
examiner will consider any patent owner reply under Sec.  1.512 
together with the request for reexamination, in determining whether to 
grant reexamination. The first sentence of Sec.  1.515(a) would read: 
``Within three months following the filing date of a request for an ex 
parte reexamination under Sec.  1.510, an examiner will consider the 
request and any patent owner reply under Sec.  1.512 and determine 
whether or not a substantial new question of patentability affecting 
any claim of the patent is raised * * *.'' The bold shows the added 
text.
    Section 1.530: Section 1.530(a) is proposed to be amended, pursuant 
to Proposal I as a conformatory change with respect to new Sec.  1.512. 
Currently, Sec.  1.530(a) provides: ``Except as provided in Sec.  
1.510(e), no statement or other response by the patent owner * * * 
shall be filed prior to the determinations made in accordance with 
Sec.  1.515 or Sec.  1.520.'' Since the patent owner would be permitted 
to file, prior to the determination made in accordance with Sec.  
1.515, a reply to a third party ex parte reexamination request under 
Sec.  1.510 if proposed new Sec.  1.512 is adopted, Sec.  1.530(a) 
would be revised to provide: ``Unless otherwise authorized, no 
statement or other response by the patent owner in an ex parte 
reexamination proceeding shall be filed prior to the determinations 
made in accordance with Sec.  1.515 or Sec.  1.520.'' This ``unless 
otherwise authorized'' language is the same as is used in the inter 
partes reexamination analogous provision Sec.  1.939. In addition, the 
disposition of the unauthorized paper would be explicitly set forth in 
the Sec.  1.530(a), i.e., the paper will be returned or discarded at 
the Office's option.
    Section 1.530(k) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal 
IV, to state that proposed amendments in ex parte or inter partes 
reexamination are not effective until the reexamination certificate is 
both ``issued and published'' (emphasis added) to conform Sec.  
1.530(k) with the language of 35 U.S.C. 307.
    Section 1.550: Section 1.550(d) is proposed to be amended, pursuant 
to Proposal IV, to recite that ``[i]f the patent owner fails to file a 
timely and appropriate response to any Office action or any written 
statement of an interview required under Sec.  1.560(b), the 
prosecution in the ex parte reexamination proceeding will be a 
terminated prosecution, and the Director will proceed to issue and 
publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under 
Sec.  1.570 * * *'' (emphasis added.). This makes it clear that the 
patent owner's failure to timely file a required response (or interview 
statement) will result in the terminating of prosecution of the 
reexamination proceeding, but will not conclude the reexamination 
proceeding. It is to be noted that the prosecution will be a terminated 
prosecution as of the day after the response was due and not timely 
filed. In this instance, the NIRC will be subsequently issued; however, 
it will not be the instrument that operates to terminate the 
prosecution, since that will have already automatically occurred upon 
the failure to respond. Further, ``issued and published'' is used to 
conform Sec.  1.550(d) with the language of 35 U.S.C. 307.
    Section 1.565: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that Sec.  
1.565(c) be amended to set forth that consolidated ex parte 
reexamination proceedings will result in the issuance and publication 
of a single certificate under Sec.  1.570. As pointed out above, this 
tracks the

[[Page 16079]]

statutory language. It is further proposed that Sec.  1.565(d) be 
amended to make it clear that the issuance of a reissue patent for a 
merged reissue-reexamination proceeding effects the conclusion of the 
reexamination proceeding. This is distinguished from the termination of 
the reexamination prosecution, as pointed out above. As a further 
technical change, it is proposed to change ``consolidated'' in Sec.  
1.565(c) to ``merged,'' for consistency with the terminology used in 
Sec.  1.565(d). There is no difference in the meaning of the two terms, 
and the use of different terms in the two subsections is confusing. In 
addition, in Sec.  1.565(d), it is proposed to replace ``normally'' 
with ``usually,'' as ``normally'' is deemed an inadvertent 
inappropriate choice of terminology. The same term (``usually'') would 
be added to Sec.  1.565(c). It is to be noted that there are instances 
where the Office does not consolidate or merge an ongoing ex parte 
reexamination proceeding with a subsequent reexamination or reissue 
proceeding, which are addressed on a case-by-case basis. The following 
are examples. If the prosecution in an ongoing ex parte reexamination 
proceeding has terminated (e.g., by the issuance of a Notice of Intent 
to Issue Reexamination Certificate), the ex parte reexamination 
proceedings will generally not be consolidated or merged with a 
subsequent reexamination or reissue proceeding. If an ongoing ex parte 
reexamination proceeding is ready for decision by the Board of Patent 
Appeals and Interferences, or is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals 
for the Federal Circuit, it would be inefficient (and contrary to the 
statutory mandate for special dispatch) to ``pull back'' the ongoing ex 
parte reexamination proceeding for merger with a subsequent 
reexamination or reissue proceeding. As a final example, an ongoing ex 
parte reexamination proceeding might be directed to one set of claims 
for which a first accused infringer (with respect to the second set) 
has filed the ongoing request for reexamination. A later reexamination 
request might then be directed to a different set of claims for which a 
second accused infringer (with respect to the second set) has filed the 
request. In this instance, where there are simply no issues in common, 
merger would serve only to delay the resolution of the first 
proceeding, representing a harm to the reexamination system. If 
reexamination is to act as an effective alternative to litigation, the 
ability to decide the question of whether to merge/consolidate based on 
the merits of a particular fact pattern must be reserved to the Office.
    Section 1.570: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that the 
heading of Sec.  1.570 and Sec.  1.570(a) be amended to make it clear 
that the issuance and publication of the ex parte reexamination 
certificate effects the conclusion of the reexamination proceeding. The 
failure to timely respond, or the issuance of the NIRC, do not conclude 
the reexamination proceeding. Section 1.570, paragraphs (b) and (d), 
would be amended to recite that the reexamination certificate is both 
issued and published for consistency with the language of 35 U.S.C. 
307.
    Section 1.902: Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed to amend 
Sec.  1.902 to state that the ``reexamination proceeding'' is 
``concluded by the issuance and publication of a reexamination 
certificate.'' That is the point at which citations (having a right to 
entry in the patent) which were filed after the order of inter partes 
reexamination will be placed in the patent file.
    Section 1.915: It is proposed that Sec.  1.915(b)(6) be revised, 
pursuant to Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new 
Sec.  1.921 discussed below. In order to provide the patent owner with 
a maximized amount of time to file a reply under Sec.  1.921 to the 
third party's request, the request must be served on the patent owner 
by facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight 
delivery, as opposed to first class mail. Accordingly, Sec.  
1.915(b)(6) would be revised to require that the request include a 
certification in accordance with Sec.  1.248(b) by the third party 
requester that a copy of the request was served in its entirety on the 
patent owner at the address as provided for in Sec.  1.33(c) by 
facsimile transmission, personal service (courier) or overnight. The 
name and address of the party served must be indicated. If service on 
the patent owner was not possible, then a duplicate copy must be 
supplied to the Office. A filing date will not be granted to the 
request until either the certification by the requester is received, or 
the Office serves the supplied duplicate copy on the patent owner.
    Pursuant to Proposal IV, it is proposed that Sec.  1.915(c) be 
revised to change Sec.  1.34(a) to Sec.  1.34. This change would update 
the section to conform with the revision of Sec.  1.34 made in Revision 
of Power of Attorney and Assignment Practice 69 FR 29865 (May 26, 2004) 
(final rule).
    Section 1.921: Pursuant to Proposal I, it is proposed to provide 
new Sec.  1.921 to provide for a patent owner reply to a request for an 
inter partes reexamination prior to the examiner's decision on the 
request.
    Section 1.921(a) would permit a reply to a third party inter partes 
reexamination request under Sec.  1.915 to be filed by the patent owner 
within thirty days from the date of service of the request on the 
patent owner. Since the statute requires that the decision on the 
request be issued within three months following the filing of a request 
for reexamination, this thirty-day period is not extendable. It is 
strongly encouraged that any patent owner reply to a request be faxed 
directly to the CRU or hand-carried to the CRU, to ensure receipt and 
matching with the reexamination proceeding prior to the examiner's 
decision on the request.
    It is to be noted that this provision for a patent owner reply to a 
request does not apply to Director ordered reexaminations and patent 
owner requested reexaminations, since there cannot be a Director 
ordered inter partes reexamination or a patent owner requested inter 
partes reexamination.
    Section 1.921(a) would also require that any reply to a request by 
the patent owner must be served upon the third party requester in 
accordance with Sec.  1.248. Service on the requester of all patent 
owner papers is required in any inter partes reexamination.
    Section 1.921(b) would require (1) that the entire reply to the 
request not exceed 50 total pages in length excluding evidence and 
reference materials such as prior art references, (2) that the form of 
the reply must be in accordance with the requirements of Sec.  1.52, 
and (3) that the reply must not include any proposed amendment of the 
claims. Fifty pages is deemed a sufficient upper limit for the patent 
owner's rebuttal of the requester's case, and an excessive length would 
only delay the process. Section 1.921(b) would also require that the 
reply not include any proposed amendment of the claims. The 
determination on whether to order reexamination is made on the patent 
claims as they exist at the filing of the request; thus there is no 
need for an amendment at this point in the process, and again, an 
amendment would only delay the process.
    Section 1.921(c) would provide that the reply will be considered 
only to the extent that it relates to the issues raised in the request 
for reexamination. Although a reply that does not solely relate to the 
issues raised in the request will not be returned to the patent owner, 
any portion of the reply that does not relate to the issues raised in 
the request will not be considered, and comments

[[Page 16080]]

will not be provided by the Office as to what was not considered.
    Section 1.921(c) would further provide for the returning or 
discarding of the reply papers if the reply to the request: Is not 
timely filed, fails to comply with Sec.  1.921(b), or fails to include 
a certification that the reply was served upon the requester in 
accordance with Sec.  1.248. In these instances, the reply will be 
returned to the patent owner or discarded (at the Office's option) 
without consideration. Further, there will be no opportunity to file a 
supplemental reply, given the time constraints discussed above.
    Section 1.921(d) would provide that the third party requester may 
not file a paper responsive to the patent owner reply to the request, 
and that any such paper will be returned to the requester or discarded 
(at the Office's option) without consideration. There is no need for a 
further requester paper at this point, since, if reexamination is 
denied, the third party requester will continue to have (pursuant to 
Sec.  1.927) the right to seek review by a petition under Sec.  1.181 
within one month of the mailing date of the examiner's determination 
refusing reexamination. At that point, the requester can address the 
patent owner reply to the request.
    Section 1.923: Section 1.923 is proposed to be amended, pursuant to 
Proposal I, as a conformatory change with respect to new Sec.  1.921. 
Section 1.923 would be revised to state that the examiner will consider 
any patent owner reply under Sec.  1.921 together with the request for 
reexamination, in determining whether to grant reexamination. In 
addition, in the first sentence, ``Sec.  1.919'' would be changed to 
``Sec.  1.915,'' since it is Sec.  1.915 that provides for the request; 
Sec.  1.919 provides for the filing date of the request.
    Section 1.945: Currently, Sec.  1.945 provides that ``[t]he patent 
owner will be given at least thirty days to file a response to any 
Office action on the merits of the inter partes reexamination.'' 
Pursuant to Proposal II, it is proposed that Sec.  1.945 be revised to 
address the filing of a supplemental response to an Office action. As 
it is proposed to revise Sec.  1.945, any supplemental response to an 
Office action would be entered only where the supplemental response is 
accompanied by a showing of sufficient cause why the supplemental 
response should be entered. The showing of sufficient cause would be 
required to provide: (1) A detailed explanation of how the requirements 
of Sec.  1.111(a)(2)(i) are satisfied; (2) an explanation of why the 
supplemental response could not have been presented together with the 
original response to the Office action; and (3) a compelling reason to 
enter the supplemental response.
    The decision on the sufficiency of the showing will not be issued 
until after receipt of requester comments under Sec.  1.947 on the 
supplemental response, or the expiration of the 30-day period for 
requester comments (whichever comes first). The decision would be 
communicated to the parties either prior to, or with, the next Office 
action on the merits, as is deemed appropriate for the handling of the 
case.
    A showing of sufficient cause will not be established by an 
explanation that the supplemental response is needed to address the 
requester's comments (on patent owner's response), and could not have 
been presented together with the original response because it was not 
known that requester would raise a particular point. The inter partes 
reexamination statute (35 U.S.C. 314) provides for the patent owner to 
respond to an Office action, and the requester to comment on that 
response. There is no intent in the statute to provide the patent owner 
with a chance to file a supplemental response to address the 
requester's comments.
    It is pointed out that no corresponding rule revision is needed in 
ex parte reexamination, since there is no third party requester comment 
on a patent owner response (that a patent owner will wish to address), 
and Sec.  1.111(a)(2) will adequately deal with patent owner 
supplemental responses.
    Section 1.953: Revision is proposed pursuant to Proposal IV. 
Section 1.953(b) states ``Any appeal by the parties shall be conducted 
in accordance with Sec. Sec.  1.959-1.983.'' This reference to 
Sec. Sec.  1.959-1.983 is not correct, as some of the referenced rules 
have been deleted and others added. Instead of revising the incorrect 
reference, the entire sentence is proposed to be deleted as being out 
of place in Sec.  1.953, which is not directed to the appeal process, 
but rather an Office action notifying parties of the right to appeal.
    Section 1.953(c) is proposed to be amended, pursuant to Proposal 
IV, to state that if a notice of appeal is not timely filed after a 
Right of Appeal Notice, then ``prosecution in the inter partes 
reexamination proceeding will be terminated.'' This will not, however, 
conclude the reexamination proceeding.
    The subheading preceding Sec.