Federal Circuit Grants Patent Term Adjustment After Allowance When Continued Examination Requested

On January 15, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided Novartis v. Lee (No. 2013-1160, -1179), holding that time spent in “continued examination” is excluded from a patent term adjustment even where the continued examination occurs after the application has been pending for more than three years. However, the Federal Circuit also held that the time excluded for continued examination is limited to the time before allowance of the application, and therefore positive patent term adjustment accrues from the date the application is allowed to issuance of the patent, as long as no later examination occurs.

Patent Term Adjustment Applicants may be entitled to patent term adjustment (PTA) to remedy certain delays caused by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during prosecution of an application. 35 U.S.C. § 154 specifies the patent term guarantees which, if not met, can serve as bases for PTA. In particular, § 154(b)(1)(B) provides one day of PTA for every day an application is pending for more than three years (known as “B delay”). According to § 154(b)(1)(B)(i), B delay does not include “any time consumed by continued examination of the application,” such as the filing of a Request for Continued Examination.

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