Changes to Patent Practice: The USPTO’s New Rules to Shorten Patent Prosecution Time


For the past several years, the USPTO has been faced with a backlog of patent applications that has raised criticism about the time it takes to issue a patent as well as about the quality of issued patents. In an attempt to address these problems, beginning in January 2006, The PTO proposed several rule changes that would affect how patent applications will be examined. The new rules issued on

August 21, 2007, are the result after several hearings and over 500 public comments.

The new rules limit the number of claims that can be filed and the number of continuation applications and requests for continued examination that can be filed without justification. An applicant that exceeds limits on claim numbers must present justification in an Examination Support

Document that will become part of the patent’s file history.

The new rules purportedly become effective on November 1, 2007. However, in effect, some rules apply retroactively to pending applications filed prior to that date, and some rules have effect as of the August 21 publication date.

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