Conduct of Ex Parte Reexamination Proceedings
Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 10.2019, Last Revised in June 2020
2254 Conduct of Ex Parte Reexamination Proceedings [R-07.2015]
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.
37 C.F.R. 1.550 Conduct of ex parte reexamination proceedings.
- (a) All ex parte reexamination proceedings, including any appeals to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, will be conducted with special dispatch within the Office. After issuance of the ex parte reexamination order and expiration of the time for submitting any responses, the examination will be conducted in accordance with §§ 1.104 through 1.116 and will result in the issuance of an ex parte reexamination certificate under § 1.570.
- (b) The patent owner in an ex parte reexamination proceeding will be given at least thirty days to respond to any Office action. In response to any rejection, such response may include further statements and/or proposed amendments or new claims to place the patent in a condition where all claims, if amended as proposed, would be patentable.
- (c) The time for taking any action by a patent owner in an ex parte reexamination proceeding may be extended as provided in this paragraph.
- (1) Any request for such an extension must specify the requested period of extension and be accompanied by the petition fee set forth in § 1.17(g).
- (2) Any request for an extension in a third party requested ex parte reexamination must be filed on or before the day on which action by the patent owner is due, and the mere filing of such a request for extension will not effect the extension. A request for an extension in a third party requested ex parte reexamination will not be granted in the absence of sufficient cause or for more than a reasonable time.
- (3) Any request for an extension in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination for up to two months from the time period set in the Office action must be filed no later than two months from the expiration of the time period set in the Office action. A request for an extension in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action must be filed on or before the day on which action by the patent owner is due, and the mere filing of a request for an extension for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action will not effect the extension. The time for taking action in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination will not be extended for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action in the absence of sufficient cause or for more than a reasonable time.
- (4) The reply or other action must in any event be filed prior to the expiration of the period of extension, but in no situation may a reply or other action be filed later than the maximum time period set by statute.
- (5) See § 90.3(c) of this title for extensions of time for filing a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or for commencing a civil action.
- (d) If the patent owner fails to file a timely and appropriate response to any Office action or any written statement of an interview required under § 1.560(b), the prosecution in the ex parte reexamination proceeding will be a terminated prosecution, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate concluding the reexamination proceeding under § 1.570 in accordance with the last action of the Office.
- (e) If a response by the patent owner is not timely filed in the Office, a petition may be filed pursuant to § 1.137 to revive a reexamination prosecution terminated under paragraph (d) of this section if the delay in response was unintentional.
- (f) The reexamination requester will be sent copies of Office actions issued during the ex parte reexamination proceeding. After filing of a request for ex parte reexamination by a third party requester, any document filed by either the patent owner or the third party requester must be served on the other party in the reexamination proceeding in the manner provided by § 1.248. The document must reflect service or the document may be refused consideration by the Office.
- (g) The active participation of the ex parte reexamination requester ends with the reply pursuant to § 1.535, and no further submissions on behalf of the reexamination requester will be acknowledged or considered. Further, no submissions on behalf of any third parties will be acknowledged or considered unless such submissions are:
- (h) Submissions by third parties, filed after the date of the order for ex parte reexamination pursuant to § 1.525, must meet the requirements of and will be treated in accordance with § 1.501(a).
- (i) A petition in an ex parte reexamination proceeding must be accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.20(c)(6), except for petitions under paragraph (c) of this section to extend the period for response by a patent owner, petitions under paragraph (e) of this section to accept a delayed response by a patent owner, petitions under § 1.78 to accept an unintentionally delayed benefit claim, and petitions under § 1.530(l) for correction of inventorship in a reexamination proceeding.
Once ex parte reexamination is ordered pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 304 and the times for submitting any responses to the order have expired, no further active participation by a third party reexamination requester is allowed, and no third party submissions will be acknowledged or considered unless they are in accordance with 37 CFR 1.510. The reexamination proceedings will be ex parte, even if ordered based on a request filed by a third party, because this was the intention of the legislation. Ex parte proceedings preclude the introduction of arguments and issues by the third party requester which are not within the intent of 35 U.S.C. 305 ("reexamination will be conducted according to the procedures established for initial examination under the provisions of sections 132 and 133 ").
The patent owner may not file papers on behalf of the requester and thereby circumvent the intent of the ex parte reexamination legislation and the rules. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held in Emerson Elec. Co. v. Davoil, Inc., 88 F.3d 1051, 39 USPQ2d 1474 (Fed. Cir. 1996) that a federal district court does not have the authority to order a patent owner to file papers prepared by a third party in addition to the patent owner’s own submission in a patent reexamination proceeding. Such papers prepared by the third party and filed by the patent owner will not be entered, and the entire submission will be returned to the patent owner as an inappropriate response. See MPEP § 2266 and § 2267.
The examination will be conducted in accordance with 37 CFR 1.104, 1.105, 1.110 -1.113, and 1.116 (35 U.S.C. 132 and 133 ) and will result in the issuance of a reexamination certificate under 37 CFR 1.570. The proceeding shall be conducted with special dispatch within the Office pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 305, last sentence. A full search will not routinely be made by the examiner. The third party reexamination requester will be sent copies of Office actions and the patent owner must serve responses on the requester. Citations submitted in the patent file prior to issuance of an order for reexamination will be considered by the examiner during the reexamination. Reexamination will proceed even if the copy of the order sent to the patent owner is returned undelivered. The notice under 37 CFR 1.11(c) is constructive notice to the patent owner and lack of response from the patent owner will not delay reexamination. See MPEP § 2230.