Amendments and Other Replies After Final Rejection or Action, Procedure Followed
Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 10.2019, Last Revised in June 2020
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714.13 Amendments and Other Replies After Final Rejection or Action, Procedure Followed [R-08.2017]
I. FINAL REJECTION — TIME FOR REPLY
If an applicant initially replies within 2 months from the date of mailing of any final rejection setting a 3-month shortened statutory period for reply and the Office does not mail an advisory action until after the end of the 3-month shortened statutory period, the period for reply for purposes of determining the amount of any extension fee will be the date on which the Office mails the advisory action advising applicant of the status of the application, but in no event can the period extend beyond 6 months from the date of the final rejection. This procedure applies only to a first reply to a final rejection. The following language must be included by the examiner in each final rejection:
A SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD FOR REPLY TO THIS FINAL ACTION IS SET TO EXPIRE THREE MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THIS ACTION. IN THE EVENT A FIRST REPLY IS FILED WITHIN TWO MONTHS OF THE MAILING DATE OF THIS FINAL ACTION AND THE ADVISORY ACTION IS NOT MAILED UNTIL AFTER THE END OF THE THREE-MONTH SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD, THEN THE SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD WILL EXPIRE ON THE DATE THE ADVISORY ACTION IS MAILED, AND ANY EXTENSION FEE PURSUANT TO 37 CFR 1.136(a) WILL BE CALCULATED FROM THE MAILING DATE OF THE ADVISORY ACTION. IN NO EVENT WILL THE STATUTORY PERIOD FOR REPLY EXPIRE LATER THAN SIX MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THIS FINAL ACTION.
This wording is part of form paragraphs 7.39, 7.40, 7.40.01, 7.40.02.fti, 7.40.02.aia, 7.41, 7.41.03.fti, 7.42.03.fti, and 7.42.09. Form paragraph 7.39 appears in MPEP § 706.07. Form paragraphs 7.40, 7.40.01, 7.40.02.fti, and 7.40.02.aia appear in MPEP § 706.07(a). Form paragraphs 7.41, 7.41.03.fti, and 7.42.09 appear in MPEP § 706.07(b). Form paragraph 7.42.03.fti appears in MPEP § 706.07(g).
For example, if applicant initially replies within 2 months from the date of mailing of a final rejection and the examiner mails an advisory action before the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection, the shortened statutory period will expire at the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection. In such a case, any extension fee would then be calculated from the end of the 3-month period. If the examiner, however, does not mail an advisory action until after the end of 3 months, the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the examiner mails the advisory action and any extension fee may be calculated from that date. In the event that a first reply is not filed within 2 months of the mailing date of the final rejection, any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the end of the reply period set in the final rejection.
Failure to file a reply during the shortened statutory period results in abandonment of the application unless the time is extended under the provisions of 37 CFR 1.136.
II. ENTRY NOT A MATTER OF RIGHT
It should be kept in mind that applicant cannot, as a matter of right, amend any finally rejected claims, add new claims after a final rejection (see 37 CFR 1.116 ) or reinstate previously canceled claims.
Except where an amendment merely cancels claims, adopts examiner suggestions, removes issues for appeal, or in some other way requires only a cursory review by the examiner, compliance with the requirement of a showing under 37 CFR 1.116(b)(3) is expected in all amendments after final rejection. An affidavit or other evidence filed after a final rejection, but before or on the same date of filing an appeal, may be entered upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the affidavit or other evidence is necessary and was not earlier presented in compliance with 37 CFR 1.116(e). See 37 CFR 41.33 and MPEP § 1206 for information on affidavit or other evidence filed after appeal. Failure to properly reply under 37 CFR 1.113 to the final rejection results in abandonment. A reply under 37 CFR 1.113 is limited to:
- (A) an amendment complying with 37 CFR 1.116;
- (B) a Notice of Appeal (and appeal fee); or
- (C) a request for continued examination (RCE) filed under 37 CFR 1.114 with a submission (i.e., an amendment that meets the reply requirement of 37 CFR 1.111 ) and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(e). RCE practice under 37 CFR 1.114 does not apply to utility or plant patent applications filed before June 8, 1995 and design applications.
Applicant's submissions concerning the prior art exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) or prior art exclusion under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) are entitled to being considered even after a final rejection has been made, because if the exception or exclusion is established, the propriety of the rejection is obviated as a matter of law. If a final rejection of certain claims is obviated by a timely reply based on a proper claim of entitlement to the prior art exception or exclusion, then the Office should acknowledge the reply by modifying the status of the claims. For example, if the only rejection in the final rejection is obviated by a submission demonstrating entitlement to except or exclude prior art in the after-final reply, the Office should indicate that the claims are allowable, or prosecution should be reopened should the claims be considered unpatentable in view of newly applied prior art.
Further examination of the application may be obtained by filing a continued prosecution application (CPA) under 37 CFR 1.53(d), if the application is a design application. See MPEP § 201.06(d). Effective July 14, 2003, CPA practice does not apply to utility and plant applications.
An amendment filed at any time after final rejection, but before an appeal brief is filed, may be entered upon or after filing of an appeal brief provided the total effect of the amendment is to (A) remove issues for appeal, and/or (B) adopt examiner suggestions.
See also MPEP § 1206 and § 1211.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not recognize "conditional" authorizations to charge an appeal fee if an amendment submitted after a final Office action is not entered. Any "conditional" authorization to charge an appeal fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(b) will be treated as an unconditional payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(b).
III. ACTION BY EXAMINER
See also MPEP § 706.07(f).
In the event that a proposed amendment does not place the case in better form for appeal, nor in condition for allowance, applicant should be promptly informed of this fact, whenever possible, within the statutory period. The refusal to enter the proposed amendment should not be arbitrary. The proposed amendment should be given sufficient consideration to determine whether the claims are in condition for allowance and/or whether the issues on appeal are simplified. Ordinarily, the specific deficiencies of the amendment need not be discussed. However, if the proposed amendment raises the issue of new matter, the examiner should identify the subject matter that would constitute new matter. If the proposed amendment presents new issues requiring further consideration and/or search, the examiner should provide an explanation as to the reasons why the proposed amendment raises new issues that would require further consideration and/or search. The reasons for nonentry should be concisely expressed. For example:
- (A) The claims, if amended as proposed, would not avoid any of the rejections set forth in the last Office action, and thus the amendment would not place the case in condition for allowance or in better condition for appeal.
- (B) The claims, if amended as proposed, would raise the issue of new matter.
- (C) The claims as amended present new issues requiring further consideration or search.
- (D) Since the amendment presents additional claims without canceling any finally rejected claims it is not considered as placing the application in better condition for appeal. Ex parte Wirt, 1905 C.D. 247, 117 OG 599 (Comm’r Pat. 1905).
Examiners should indicate the status of each claim of record or proposed in the amendment, and which proposed claims would be entered on the filing of an appeal if filed in a separate paper. Whenever such an amendment is entered for appeal purposes, the examiner must indicate on the advisory action which individual rejection(s) set forth in the action from which the appeal was taken (e.g., the final rejection) would be used to reject the new or amended claim(s).
Applicant should be notified, if certain portions of the amendment would be acceptable as placing some of the claims in better form for appeal or complying with objections or requirements as to form, if a separate paper were filed containing only such amendments. Similarly, if the proposed amendment to some of the claims would render them allowable, applicant should be so informed. This is helpful in assuring the filing of a brief consistent with the claims as amended. A statement that the final rejection stands and that the statutory period runs from the date of the final rejection is also in order.
Advisory Action Before the Filing of an Appeal Brief form PTOL-303 should be used to acknowledge receipt of a reply from applicant after final rejection where such reply is prior to filing of an appeal brief and does not place the application in condition for allowance. This form has been devised to advise applicant of the disposition of the proposed amendments to the claims and of the effect of any argument or affidavit not placing the application in condition for allowance or which could not be made allowable by a telephone call to clear up minor matters.
Any amendment timely filed after a final rejection should be immediately considered to determine whether it places the application in condition for allowance or in better form for appeal. An examiner is expected to turn in a response to an amendment after final rejection within an average of 11 calendar days from the time the amendment is received by the examiner. A reply to an amendment after final rejection should be mailed within 30 days of the date the amendment is received by the Office. In all instances, both before and after final rejection, in which an application is placed in condition for allowance, applicant should be notified promptly of the allowability of the claims by a Notice of Allowability form PTOL-37. If delays in processing the Notice of Allowability are expected, e.g., because an extensive examiner’s amendment must be entered, and the end of a statutory period for reply is near, the examiner should notify applicant by way of an interview that the application has been placed in condition for allowance, and an Examiner Initiated Interview Summary form should be mailed. Prompt notice to applicant is important because it may avoid an unnecessary appeal and act as a safeguard against a holding of abandonment. Every effort should be made to mail the letter before the period for reply expires.
If no appeal has been filed within the period for reply and no amendment has been submitted to make the application allowable or which can be entered in part (see MPEP § 714.20), the application stands abandoned.
It should be noted that under 37 CFR 1.181(f), the filing of a 37 CFR 1.181 petition will not stay the period for reply to an examiner’s action which may be running against an application. See MPEP § 1206 for appeal and post-appeal procedure. For after final rejection practice relative to affidavits or declarations filed under 37 CFR 1.131(a) and 1.132, see MPEP § 715.09 and § 716.
Form paragraph 7.169 may be used to notify applicant in the Advisory Action that the proposed amendment(s) will be entered upon appeal and how the new or amended claim(s) would be rejected.
¶ 7.169 Advisory Action, Proposed Rejection of Claims, Before Appeal Brief
For purposes of appeal, the proposed amendment(s) will be entered and the proposed rejection(s) detailed below will be included in the Examiner’s Answer. To be complete, such rejection(s) must be addressed in any brief on appeal.
Upon entry of the amendment(s) for purposes of appeal:
Claim(s)  would be rejected for the reasons set forth in  of the final Office action mailed .
1. In bracket 1, identify all the new or amended claim(s) that would be grouped together in a single rejection.
2. In bracket 2, identify the rejection by referring to either the paragraph number or the statement of the rejection (e.g., the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 based upon A in view of B) in the final Office action under which the claims would be rejected on appeal.
3. Repeat this form paragraph for each group of claims subject to the same rejection(s).
4. Use this form paragraph if item 7 of the Advisory Action form, PTOL-303 (Rev. 9-04 or later) has been checked to indicate that the proposed amendment(s) will be entered upon appeal.
IV. HAND DELIVERY OF PAPERS
Hand carried papers for the Technology Centers (TCs) may only be delivered to the Customer Window which is located at:
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Customer Service Window
401 Dulany Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Effective December 1, 2003, all official patent application related correspondence for organizations reporting to the Commissioner of Patents (e.g., TCs, the Office of Data Management, and the Office of Petitions) that is hand-carried (or delivered by other delivery services, e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.) must be delivered to the Customer Window, with a few limited exceptions. See MPEP § 502. Hand-carried amendments and other replies after final rejection (37 CFR 1.116 ) will no longer be accepted in the TCs. Any courier who attempts delivery of such after final correspondence at a TC (or where it is no longer permitted) will be re-directed to the Customer Window. Patent application related compact disks (CDs) and other non-paper submissions that are hand-carried must be delivered to the Customer Window.
V. EXPEDITED PROCEDURE FOR PROCESSING AMENDMENTS AND OTHER REPLIES AFTER FINAL REJECTION (37 CFR 1.116)
In an effort to improve the timeliness of the processing of amendments and other replies under 37 CFR 1.116, and thereby provide better service to the public, an expedited processing procedure has been established which the public may utilize in filing amendments and other replies after final rejection under 37 CFR 1.116.
Amendments and other replies under 37 CFR 1.116 filed via EFS-Web are processed promptly provided the submitter describes the document as an amendment after final rejection. Based on the document description selected by the user, a document code is assigned and a message regarding the document submitted to the USPTO will be forwarded to the appropriate organization for processing, and to the appropriate official for consideration. Accurate document indexing is important to facilitate efficient processing and proper consideration of the document by the USPTO.
In order for an applicant to take advantage of the expedited procedure, an amendment or other reply under 37 CFR 1.116 filed in paper format must be marked as a "Reply under 37 CFR 1.116 — Expedited Procedure - Technology Center (Insert Technology Center Number)" on the upper right portion of the amendment or other reply and the envelope must be clearly marked "Mail Stop AF" in the lower left hand corner. If the reply is mailed to the Office, the envelope should contain only replies under 37 CFR 1.116 and should be mailed to "Mail Stop AF, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia, 22313-1450." Instead of mailing the envelope to "Mail Stop AF" as noted above, the reply may be hand-carried to the Customer Window located at the above address. The outside of the envelope should be marked "Reply Under 37 CFR 1.116 - Expedited Procedure - Technology Center (Insert Technology Center Number)."
Upon receipt by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from the U.S. Postal Service of an envelope appropriately marked "Mail Stop AF," the envelope will be specially processed by the Mail Center and forwarded to the Technology Center after being uploaded as a scanned image into the file wrapper. Upon receipt of the reply in the TC it will be promptly processed by a designated technical support staff member and forwarded to the examiner, via the supervisory patent examiner (SPE), for action. The SPE is responsible for ensuring that prompt action on the reply is taken by the examiner. If the examiner to which the application is assigned is not available and will not be available for an extended period, the SPE will ensure that action on the application is promptly taken to assure meeting the USPTO goal described below. Once the examiner has completed his or her consideration of the reply, the examiner’s action will be promptly typed and printed, and mailed by technical support staff or other Office personnel designated to expedite the processing of replies filed under this procedure. The TC supervisory personnel, e.g., the supervisory patent examiner, supervisory applications examiner, and TC Director are responsible for ensuring that actions on replies filed under this procedure are promptly processed and mailed. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office goal is to mail the examiner’s action on the reply within 1 month from the date on which the amendment or reply is received by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Applicants are encouraged to utilize this expedited procedure in order to facilitate U.S. Patent and Trademark Office processing of replies under 37 CFR 1.116. If applicants do not utilize the procedure by appropriately marking the envelope and enclosed papers, the benefits expected to be achieved therefrom will not be attained. The procedure cannot be expected to result in achievement of the goal in applications in which the delay results from actions by the applicant, e.g., delayed interviews, applicant’s desire to file a further reply, or a petition by applicant which requires a decision and delays action on the reply. In any application in which a reply under this procedure has been filed and no action by the examiner has been received within the time referred to herein, plus normal mailing time, a telephone call to the SPE of the relevant TC art unit would be appropriate in order to permit the SPE to determine the cause for any delay. If the SPE is unavailable or if no satisfactory reply is received, the TC Director should be contacted.