Ashe P.C. - Intellectual Property Agreements - Ex Parte Reexamination

Ex Parte Reexamination

Ex parte reexamination proceedings are used by patentees and third parties to challenge patent claims based on patents and printed publications.  Once initiated, third party requestors are not permitted to participate in the proceeding or any related appeals.

Basics

Basic characteristics of ex parte reexamination

The basic characteristics of ex parte reexamination are as follows:

(A) Anyone can request reexamination at any time during the period of enforceability of the patent;

(B) Prior art considered during reexamination is limited to prior art patents or printed publications applied under the appropriate parts of 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103;

(C) A substantial new question of patentability must be present for reexamination to be ordered;

(D) If ordered, the actual reexamination proceeding is ex parte in nature;

(E) Decision on the request must be made no later than 3 months from its filing, and the remainder of proceedings must proceed with "special dispatch" within the Office;

(F) If ordered, a reexamination proceeding will normally be conducted to its conclusion and the issuance of a reexamination certificate;

(G) The scope of a claim cannot be enlarged by amendment;

(H) All reexamination and patent files are open to the public, but see paragraph (I) below;

(I) The reexamination file is scanned into IFW to provide an electronic format copy of the file. All public access to and copying of the reexamination file may be made from the electronic format copy available through PAIR. Any remaining paper files are not available to the public.

[MPEP 2209 (August 2012)]

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Statistics

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Statutes

35 U.S.C. §301 - Citation of prior art and written statements

(a) IN GENERAL.—Any person at any time may cite to the Office in writing— (1) prior art consisting of patents or printed publications which that person believes to have a bearing on the patent ability of any claim of a particular patent; or (2) statements of the patent owner filed in a proceeding before a Federal court or the Office in which the patent owner took a position on the scope of any claim of a particular patent.

(b) OFFICIAL FILE.—If the person citing prior art or written statements pursuant to subsection (a) explains in writing the pertinence and manner of applying the prior art or written statements to at least 1 claim of the patent, the citation of the prior art or written statements and the explanation thereof shall become a part of the official file of the patent.

(c) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.—A party that submits a written statement pursuant to subsection (a)(2)shall include any other documents, pleadings, or evidence from the proceeding in which the statement was filed that addresses the written statement.

(d) LIMITATIONS.—A written statement submitted pursuant to subsection (a)(2), and additional information submitted pursuant to subsection (c), shall not be considered by the Office for any purpose other than to determine the proper meaning of a patent claim in a proceeding that is ordered or instituted pursuant to section304, 314, or 324. If any such written statement or additional information is subject to an applicable protective order, such statement or information shall be redacted to exclude information that is subject to that order.

(e) CONFIDENTIALITY.—Upon the written request of the person citing prior art or written statements pursuant to subsection (a), that person’s identity shall be excluded from the patent file and kept confidential.

35 U.S.C. §302 - Request for reexamination

 Any person at any time may file a request for reex­amination by the Office of any claim of a patent on the basis of any prior art cited under the provisions of section 301. The request must be in writ­ing and must be accompanied by payment of a reex­amination fee established by the Director pursuant to the provisions of section 41. The request must set forth the pertinency and manner of applying cited prior art to every claim for which reexamination is requested. Unless the requesting person is the owner of the patent, the Director promptly will send a copy of the request to the owner of record of the patent.

35 U.S.C. §303 - Determination of issue by Director

(a) Within three months following the filing of a request for reexamination under the provisions of section 302, the Director will determine whether a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent concerned is raised by the request, with or without consideration of other patents or printed publications. On his own initiative, and any time, the Director may determine whether a substantial new question of patentability is raised by patents and publications discovered by him or cited under the provisions of section 301 or 302. The existence of a substantial new question of patentability is not precluded by the fact that a patent or printed publication was previously cited by or to the Office or considered by the Office.

(b) A record of the Director’s determination under subsection (a) of this section will be placed in the official file of the patent, and a copy promptly will be given or mailed to the owner of record of the patent and to the person requesting reexamination, if any.

(c) A determination by the Director pursuant to subsection (a) of this section that no substantial new question of patentability has been raised will be final and nonappealable. Upon such a determination, the Director may refund a portion of the reexamination fee required under section 302.

35 U.S.C. §304 - Reexamination order by Director

If, in a determination made under the provisions of subsection 303(a), the Director finds that a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of a patent is raised, the determination will include an order for reexamination of the patent for resolution of the question. The patent owner will be given a reasonable period, not less than two months from the date a copy of the determination is given or mailed to him, within which he may file a statement on such question, including any amendment to his patent and new claim or claims he may wish to pro­pose, for consideration in the reexamination. If the patent owner files such a statement, he promptly will serve a copy of it on the person who has requested reexamination under the provisions of section 302. Within a period of two months from the date of service, that person may file and have considered in the reexamination a reply to any statement filed by the patent owner. That person promptly will serve on the patent owner a copy of any reply filed.

35 U.S.C. §305 - Conduct of reexamination proceedings

After the times for filing the statement and reply provided for by section 304 have expired, reexamination will be conducted according to the pro­cedures established for initial examination under the provisions of sections 132 and 133. In any reexamination proceeding under this chapter, the patent owner will be permitted to propose any amend­ment to his patent and a new claim or claims thereto, in order to distinguish the invention as claimed from the prior art cited under the provisions of section 301, or in response to a decision adverse to the patentability of a claim of a patent. No proposed amended or new claim enlarging the scope of a claim of the patent will be permitted in a reexamination pro­ceeding under this chapter. All reexamination pro­ceedings under this section, including any appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, will be conducted with special dispatch within the Office.

35 U.S.C. §306 - Appeal

The patent owner involved in a reexamination pro­ceeding under this chapter may appeal under the pro­visions of section 134, and may seek court review under the provisions of sections 141 to 144, with respect to any decision adverse to the patentability of any original or proposed amended or new claim of the patent.

35 U.S.C. §307 - Certificate of patentability, unpatentability, and claim cancellation

(a) 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.

(b) Any proposed amended or new claim deter­mined to be patentable and incorporated into a patent following a reexamination proceeding will have the same effect as that specified in section 252 of this title for reissued patents on the right of any person who made, purchased, or used within the United States, or imported into the United States, anything patented by such proposed amended or new claim, or who made substantial preparation for the same, prior to issuance of a certificate under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section.

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Ex Parte Reexamination Rules

Part 1 - Subpart D - Ex Parte Reexamination of Patents (37 C.F.R. §§ 1.501-1.502, 1.510, 1. 515, 1.520, 1.525, 1.530, 1.535, 1.540, 1.550, 1.552, 1.555, 1.560, 1.565, and 1.570)

Part 41 - Subpart A - General Provisions (37 C.F.R. §§ 41.1-41.12 and 41.20)

Part 41 - Subpart B - Ex Parte Appeals (37 C.F.R. §§ 41.30-41.31, 41.33, 41.35, 41.37, 41.39, 41.41, 41.43, 41.47, 41.50, 41.52, and 41.54)

 

Recently Reported Requests for Ex Parte Reexamination

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reports newly filed requests for ex parte reexamination in Official Gazette Notices.  To search for recently reported requests, please click here.

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