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MPEP Section 821.04(b), Rejoinder of Process Requiring an Allowable Product

Executive summary:

This document contains one section of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (the "M.P.E.P."), Eighth Edition, Fifth Revision (August 2006). This page was last updated in July 2007. You may return to the section index to find a particular section. Alternatively, you may search the MPEP use the search box that appears on the bottom of every page of BitLaw--be sure to restrict your search to the MPEP in the pop-up list.

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821.04(b) Rejoinder of Process Requiring an Allowable Product [R-5]

Where claims directed to a product and to a process of making and/or using the product are presented in the same application, applicant may be called upon under 35 U.S.C. 121 to elect claims to either the product or a process. See MPEP § 806.05(f) and §  806.05(h). The claims to the nonelected invention will be withdrawn from further consideration under 37 CFR 1.142. See MPEP §  821 through § 821.03. However, if applicant elects a claim(s) directed to a product which is subsequently found allowable, withdrawn process claims which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable product claim will be considered for rejoinder. All claims directed to a nonelected process invention must depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable product claim for that process invention to be rejoined. Upon rejoinder of claims directed to a previously nonelected process invention, the restriction requirement between the elected product and rejoined process(es) will be withdrawn.

If applicant cancels all the claims directed to a nonelected process invention before rejoinder occurs, the examiner should not withdraw the restriction requirement. This will preserve applicant's rights under 35 U.S.C. 121.

Where the application as originally filed discloses the product and the process for making and/or using the product, and only claims directed to the product are presented for examination, applicant may present claims directed to the process of making and/or using the allowable product by way of amendment pursuant to 37 CFR 1.121. In view of the rejoinder procedure, and in order to expedite prosecution, applicants are encouraged to present such process claims, preferably as dependent claims, in the application at an early stage of prosecution. Process claims which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of the patentable product will be entered as a matter of right if the amendment is presented prior to final rejection or allowance, whichever is earlier. However, if applicant files an amendment adding claims to a process invention, and the amendment includes process claims which do not depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable product, all claims directed to that newly added invention may be withdrawn from consideration, via an election by original presentation (see MPEP § 821.03).

Amendments submitted after allowance are governed by 37 CFR 1.312. Amendments to add only process claims which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowed product claim and which meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112 may be entered.

Amendments submitted after final rejection are governed by 37 CFR 1.116. When all claims to the elected product are in condition for allowance, all process claims eligible for rejoinder (see MPEP §  821.04) must be considered for patentability.

If an amendment after final rejection that otherwise complies with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.116 would place all the elected product claim(s) in condition for allowance and thereby require rejoinder of process claims that raise new issues requiring further consideration (e.g., issues under 35 U.S.C. 101 or 112, first paragraph), the amendment could be denied entry. For example, if pending nonelected process claims depend from a finally rejected product claim, and the amendment (or affidavit or other evidence that could have been submitted earlier) submitted after final rejection, if entered, would put the product claim(s) in condition for allowance, entry of the amendment (or evidence submission) would not be required if it would raise new issues that would require further consideration, such as issues under 35 U.S.C. 101 or 112, first paragraph necessitated by rejoinder of previously nonelected process claims.

Before mailing an advisory action in the above situation, it is recommended that applicant be called and given the opportunity to cancel the process claims to place the application in condition for allowance with the allowable product claims, or to file an RCE to continue prosecution of the process claims in the same application as the product claims.

In after final situations when no amendment or evidence is submitted, but applicant submits arguments that persuade the examiner that all the product claims are allowable, in effect the final rejection of the product claims is not sustainable, and any rejection of the rejoined process claims must be done in a new Office action. If the process claims would be rejected, applicant may be called before mailing a new Office action and given the opportunity to cancel the process claims and to place the application in condition for allowance with the allowable product claims. If a new Office action is prepared indicating the allowability of the product claim and including a new rejection of the process claims, the provisions of MPEP § 706.07 govern the propriety of making the Office action final.

Form paragraph 8.21.04 should be included in any requirement for restriction between a product and a process of making or process of using the product. See MPEP § 806.05(f) and § 806.05(h).

Form paragraph 8.42 or 8.43 should be used to notify applicant of the rejoinder of process inventions which depend from or otherwise require all the limitations of an allowable product claim.

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¶ 8.42 Allowable Product, Rejoinder of at Least One Process Claim, Less Than All Claims

Claim [1] directed to an allowable product. Pursuant to the procedures set forth in MPEP § 821.04(b), claim [2], directed to the process of making or using the allowable product, previously withdrawn from consideration as a result of a restriction requirement, [3] hereby rejoined and fully examined for patentability under 37 CFR 1.104. Claim [4], directed to the invention(s) of [5] require all the limitations of an allowable product claim, and [6] NOT been rejoined.

Because a claimed invention previously withdrawn from consideration under 37 CFR 1.142 has been rejoined, the restriction requirement [7] groups [8] as set forth in the Office action mailed on [9] is hereby withdrawn. In view of the withdrawal of the restriction requirement as to the rejoined inventions, applicant(s) are advised that if any claim presented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, a claim that is allowable in the present application, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Once the restriction requirement is withdrawn, the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 121 are no longer applicable. See In re Ziegler, 443 F.2d 1211, 1215, 170 USPQ 129, 131-32 (CCPA 1971). See also MPEP § 804.01.

Examiner Note

1. If ALL previously withdrawn process claims are being rejoined, then form paragraph 8.43 should be used instead of this form paragraph. All claims directed to a nonelected process invention must require all the limitations of an allowable product claim for that process invention to be rejoined. See MPEP § 821.04(b).

2. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) of the allowable product claims followed by either -- is-- or -- are--.

3. In bracket 2, insert the claim number(s) of ALL the rejoined process claims.

4. In bracket 3, insert either --is-- or --are--.

5. In bracket 4, insert the number(s) of the claims NOT being rejoined followed by either -- is-- or -- are--.

6. In bracket 5, insert the group(s) or subject matter of the invention(s) to which the claims NOT being rejoined are directed, followed by either --, do not all-- or --, does not--.

7. In bracket 6, insert --has-- or --have--.

8. In bracket 7, insert either -- among -- or -- between--.

9. In bracket 8, insert group numbers of the elected product and rejoined process.

¶ 8.43 Allowable Product, Rejoinder of All Previously Withdrawn Process Claims

Claim [1] directed to an allowable product. Pursuant to the procedures set forth in MPEP § 821.04(b), claim [2], directed to the process of making or using an allowable product, previously withdrawn from consideration as a result of a restriction requirement, [3] hereby rejoined and fully examined for patentability under 37 CFR 1.104.

Because all claims previously withdrawn from consideration under 37 CFR 1.142 have been rejoined, the restriction requirement as set forth in the Office action mailed on [4] is hereby withdrawn. In view of the withdrawal of the restriction requirement as to the rejoined inventions, applicant(s) are advised that if any claim presented in a continuation or divisional application is anticipated by, or includes all the limitations of, a claim that is allowable in the present application, such claim may be subject to provisional statutory and/or nonstatutory double patenting rejections over the claims of the instant application.

Once the restriction requirement is withdrawn, the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 121 are no longer applicable. See In re Ziegler, 443 F.2d 1211, 1215, 170 USPQ 129, 131-32 (CCPA 1971). See also MPEP § 804.01.

Examiner Note

1. If LESS THAN ALL previously withdrawn claims are being rejoined, then form paragraph 8.42 should be used instead of this form paragraph. All claims directed to a nonelected process invention must require all the limitations of an allowable product claim for that process invention to be rejoined. See MPEP § 821.04(b).

2. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) of the allowable product claim(s) followed by either -- is-- or -- are--.

3. In bracket 2, insert the claim number(s) of the process claim(s) previously withdrawn from consideration.

4. In bracket 3, insert either --is-- or --are--.

5. If rejoinder occurs after the first Office action on the merits and if any of the rejoined claims are unpatentable, e.g., if a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph is made, then the next Office action may be made final if proper under MPEP § 706.07(a).

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