MPEP 2673.02
Examiner Issues Right of Appeal Notice (RAN)

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

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2673.02    Examiner Issues Right of Appeal Notice (RAN) [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.953 Examiner’s Right of Appeal Notice in inter partes reexamination.

  • (a) Upon considering the comments of the patent owner and the third party requester subsequent to the Office action closing prosecution in an inter partes reexamination, or upon expiration of the time for submitting such comments, the examiner shall issue a Right of Appeal Notice, unless the examiner reopens prosecution and issues another Office action on the merits.
  • (b) Expedited Right of Appeal Notice: At any time after the patent owner’s response to the initial Office action on the merits in an inter partes reexamination, the patent owner and all third party requesters may stipulate that the issues are appropriate for a final action, which would include a final rejection and/or a final determination favorable to patentability, and may request the issuance of a Right of Appeal Notice. The request must have the concurrence of the patent owner and all third party requesters present in the proceeding and must identify all of the appealable issues and the positions of the patent owner and all third party requesters on those issues. If the examiner determines that no other issues are present or should be raised, a Right of Appeal Notice limited to the identified issues shall be issued.
  • (c) The Right of Appeal Notice shall be a final action, which comprises a final rejection setting forth each ground of rejection and/or final decision favorable to patentability including each determination not to make a proposed rejection, an identification of the status of each claim, and the reasons for decisions favorable to patentability and/or the grounds of rejection for each claim. No amendment can be made in response to the Right of Appeal Notice. The Right of Appeal Notice shall set a one-month time period for either party to appeal. If no notice of appeal is filed, prosecution in the inter partes reexamination proceeding will be terminated, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate under § 1.997 in accordance with the Right of Appeal Notice.

A Right of Appeal Notice (RAN) is a final Office action which presents a final decision to reject the claims (i.e., a final decision that the claims are rejected) and/or a final decision favorable to patentability as to the claims (i.e., a final decision not to make a proposed rejection).

The RAN will identify the status of each claim. It will set forth:

  • (A) the grounds of rejection for all claims rejected in the RAN;
  • (B) the reasons why a proposed rejection is not made for all decisions favorable to patentability as to claims that were contested by the third party requester; and
  • (C) the reasons for patentability for all claims "allowed" and not contested by the third party requester.

The RAN will also advise parties of their rights of appeal at this stage in the reexamination proceeding, and the consequences of failure to appeal.

See MPEP § 2673 as to matters that should be taken into account by the examiner before deciding to issue a RAN. Before the examiner actually issues a RAN, all outstanding grounds of rejection of record and findings of patentability that are of record should be carefully reviewed, after consideration of all submissions of record by the parties. Where it is appropriate to retain the grounds of rejection and findings of patentability, and the examiner’s position will not be changed, the examiner is permitted to issue a RAN. Any grounds of rejection and findings of patentability relied upon should be restated in the RAN. The reasons for each rejection and finding should be set forth in detail. The grounds of rejection and findings of patentability should, at this point, be clearly developed to such an extent that the patent owner and the third party requester may readily judge the advisability of filing an appeal. The examiner’s position as to any arguments and comments raised by the patent owner and the third party requester should be clearly set forth, so that any appeal taken can address the examiner’s position as to the arguments and comments.

In the RAN, it should also be point out which submissions after the Action Closing Prosecution (ACP) have been entered and considered, and which have not. At this point, the examiner should check the record to ensure that parties have been made aware of which amendments, evidence (affidavits, declarations, exhibits, etc.), references and argument are before the examiner for consideration. The case should be ready for appeal after the RAN issues.

In the event that an amendment submitted by the patent owner after the ACP has not been entered because the amendment does not comply with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.116 (see 37 CFR 1.951(a) ), the patent owner may file a petition under 37 CFR 1.181 requesting entry of the amendment. The petition under 37 CFR 1.181 must be filed within the time period for filing a notice of appeal or cross appeal, if appropriate (see 37 CFR 1.953(c) ). Note that the filing of a petition under 37 CFR 1.181 does not toll the time period for filing a notice of appeal or cross appeal, if appropriate. Thus, in addition to the petition under 37 CFR 1.181, the patent owner is encouraged to file (1) a petition under 37 CFR 1.183 requesting waiver of the prohibition of an extension of time for filing an appeal brief (37 CFR 41.66(a) ), and (2) a request for an extension of the period to file the appeal brief until after a decision on the petition under 37 CFR 1.181. The third party requester may once file comments responsive to the patent owner’s petition under 37 CFR 1.181 within 30 days from the date of service of the patent owner’s petition under 37 CFR 1.181 on the third party requester. When rendering a decision on the petition under 37 CFR 1.181, the deciding official should be mindful that a patent owner in an inter partes reexamination proceeding may not be able to proceed effectively if the amendment submitted after the ACP is not entered since the patent owner in an inter partes reexamination proceeding does not have the right to continue the proceeding by refiling under 37 CFR 1.53(b) or 1.53(d) nor by filing a Request for Continued Examination under 37 CFR 1.114, and the patent owner cannot file an inter partes reexamination.

Form PTOL-2066 should be used as the cover sheet for the RAN. The RAN should conclude with form paragraph 26.08 advising the parties of their right to appeal and correspondence and inquiry form paragraph 26.73:

¶ 26.08    Right of Appeal Notice

This is a RIGHT OF APPEAL NOTICE (RAN); see MPEP § 2673.02 and § 26.4. The decision in this Office action as to the patentability or unpatentability of any original patent claim, any proposed amended claim and any new claim in this proceeding is a FINAL DECISION.

No amendment can be made in response to the Right of Appeal Notice in an inter partes reexamination. 37 CFR 1.953(c). Further, no affidavit or other evidence can be submitted in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the right of appeal notice, except as provided in 37 CFR 1.981 or as permitted by 37 CFR 41.77(b)(1). 37 CFR 1.116(f).

Each party has a thirty-day or one-month time period, whichever is longer, to file a notice of appeal. The patent owner may appeal to the Board with respect to any decision adverse to the patentability of any original or proposed amended or new claim of the patent by filing a notice of appeal and paying the fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b)(1). The third party requester may appeal to the Board with respect to any decision favorable to the patentability of any original or proposed amended or new claim of the patent by filing a notice of appeal and paying the fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b)(1).

In addition, a patent owner who has not filed a notice of appeal may file a notice of cross appeal within fourteen days of service of a third party requester’s timely filed notice of appeal and pay the fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b)(1). A third party requester who has not filed a notice of appeal may file a notice of cross appeal within fourteen days of service of a patent owner’s timely filed notice of appeal and pay the fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b)(1).

Any appeal in this proceeding must identify the claim(s) appealed, and must be signed by the patent owner (for a patent owner appeal) or the third party requester (for a third party requester appeal), or their duly authorized attorney or agent.

Any party that does not file a timely notice of appeal or a timely notice of cross appeal will lose the right to appeal from any decision adverse to that party, but will not lose the right to file a respondent brief and fee where it is appropriate for that party to do so. If no party files a timely appeal, the reexamination prosecution will be terminated, and the Director will proceed to issue and publish a certificate under 37 CFR 1.997 in accordance with this Office action.

¶ 26.73    Correspondence and Inquiry as to Office Actions

All correspondence relating to this inter partes reexamination proceeding should be directed:

By EFS: Registered users may submit via the electronic filing system EFS-Web, at https://efs.uspto.gov/efile/ myportal/efs-registered.

By Mail to: Mail Stop Inter Partes Reexam

Attn: Central Reexamination Unit

Commissioner for Patents

United States Patent & Trademark Office

P.O. Box 1450

Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

By FAX to: (571) 273-9900

Central Reexamination Unit

By hand: Customer Service Window

Randolph Building

401 Dulany Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

For EFS-Web transmissions, 37 CFR 1.8(a)(1)(i)(C) and (ii) states that correspondence (except for a request for reexamination and a corrected or replacement request for reexamination) will be considered timely filed if (a) it is transmitted via the Office's electronic filing system in accordance with 37 CFR 1.6(a)(4), and (b) includes a certificate of transmission for each piece of correspondence stating the date of transmission, which is prior to the expiration of the set period of time in the Office action.

Any inquiry concerning this communication or earlier communications from the examiner, or as to the status of this proceeding, should be directed to the Central Reexamination Unit at telephone number (571) 272-7705.

Examiner Note:

1. This form paragraph is used at the end of inter partes reexamination communications.

2. The examiner having charge of the proceeding is not to be contacted by the parties to the proceeding.

An amendment filed after the RAN will not be entered at all, in the absence of a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.183, because 37 CFR 1.953(c) prohibits an amendment after the RAN in an inter partes reexamination. If the examiner wishes to have the patent owner provide an amendment after the RAN, the examiner can reopen prosecution, accept the amendment (for entry), and issue a new Action Closing Prosecution (ACP). See MPEP § 2673.01 for discussion as to discretionary reopening of prosecution.

Note that 37 CFR 1.116(d)(1) states that no amendment other than canceling claims, where such cancellation does not affect the scope of any other pending claims in the proceeding, can be made in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the RAN except as provided in 37 CFR 1.981 or as permitted by 37 CFR 41.77(b)(1). Furthermore, no affidavit or other evidence can be submitted in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the RAN except as provided in 37 CFR 1.981 or as permitted by 37 CFR 41.77(b)(1). See 37 CFR 1.116(f).

I.    EXAMINER NEVER ISSUES A NIRC AFTER ACP

Once an ACP has been issued, there is no requirement for the patent owner to respond; where the patent owner does not respond to the rejection of the patent claims, a RAN will still be issued and the patent owner can appeal at that point to the Board. Because there is no requirement for the patent owner to respond, there is no situation in which a Notice of Intent to Issue Inter Partes Reexamination Certificate (NIRC) can be issued after an ACP and prior to the RAN. Even if (after an ACP has been issued) the examiner finds the patent owner’s subsequent argument to be persuasive as to all of the claims, a NIRC would still not be issued, but rather, a RAN would be issued to provide the third party requester with an opportunity to appeal the "allowed" claims to the Board.

II.    EXPEDITED RIGHT OF APPEAL NOTICE

37 CFR 1.953(b) provides for an expedited RAN. At any time after the patent owner’s response to the first Office action on the merits in an inter partes reexamination, the patent owner and the third party requester (all third party requesters, if there is more than one due to a merged proceeding) may request the immediate issuance of a RAN.

The request for an expedited RAN must:

  • (A) stipulate that the issues are appropriate for a final action, which would include a final rejection and/or a final determination favorable to patentability;
  • (B) state that the patent owner and the third party requester (all third party requesters, if there is more than one) join in making the request;
  • (C) identify all of the appealable issues; and
  • (D) identify and discuss the positions of the patent owner and the third party requester(s) on the identified issues.

If the examiner determines that no other issues are present or should be raised in the proceeding, a RAN limited to the identified issues will be issued.

If the examiner determines that other issues are in fact present, or that other issues need to be raised in the proceeding, the examiner should deny the request, and examination and prosecution will continue as if the request had not been submitted.

In no event will the request for an expedited RAN be construed to extend the time for any response/comments due at the time the request is made.

III.    PANEL REVIEW CONFERENCE

After an examiner has determined that the reexamination proceeding is ready for the RAN action, the examiner will formulate a draft preliminary RAN action. The examiner will then inform his/her Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) Supervisory Patent Reexamination Specialist (SPRS) or Technology Center (TC) Quality Assurance Specialist (QAS) of his/her intent to issue the action. The CRU SPRS/TC QAS will convene a panel review conference, and the conference members will review the patentability of the claim(s) pursuant to MPEP § 2671.03. If the conference confirms the examiner’s preliminary decision to reject and/or allow the claims, the proposed RAN action shall be issued and signed by the examiner, with the two or more other conferees initialing the action (as "conferee" ) to indicate their presence in the conference. If the conference does not confirm the examiner’s treatment of the claims, the examiner will reevaluate and issue an appropriate Office action.