2212.01 Inquiries from Persons Other Than the Patent Owner [R-11.2013]
Examiners should not discuss or answer inquiries from third parties (i.e., parties who are not the patent owner) in reexamination proceedings. A party who is not the patent owner should be referred by the examiner to the Technology Center (TC) Quality Assurance Specialist (QAS) or Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) Supervisory Patent Reexamination Specialist (SPRS) for the examiner’s art unit. The CRU SPRS or TC QAS will address any such questions. Only questions on strictly procedural matters, i.e., not directed to any specific reexamination proceeding, may be discussed by the CRU SPRS or TC QAS with that party.
Employees of the Office, particularly patent examiners who conducted a concluded reexamination proceeding, should not discuss or answer inquiries from any person outside the Office as to whether a certain reference or other particular evidence was considered during the proceeding and whether a claim would have been allowed over that reference or other evidence had it been considered during the proceeding.
Patent practitioners must not make improper inquiries of members of the patent examining corps and the Office as a whole. See 37 CFR 11.804. Inquiries from members of the public relating to the matters discussed above must, of necessity, be refused and such refusal should not be considered discourteous or an expression of opinion by the Office as to the validity, patentability, or enforceability of the patent.