MPEP 708
Order of Examination

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

Previous: §707.13 | Next: §708.01

708    Order of Examination [R-11.2013]

Nonprovisional applications filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and accepted as complete applications are assigned for examination to the respective examining Technology Centers (TCs) having the classes of inventions to which the applications relate. Nonprovisional applications are ordinarily taken up for examination by the examiner to whom they have been assigned in the order in which they have been filed except for those applications in which examination has been advanced pursuant to 37 CFR 1.102. See 37 CFR 1.496 and MPEP § 1893.03 for the order of examination of international applications in the national stage, including taking up out of order certain national stage applications which have been indicated as satisfying the criteria of PCT Article 33(1)-(4) as to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.

Applications which have been acted upon by the examiner, and which have been placed by the applicant in condition for further action by the examiner (amended applications) shall be taken up for action in such order as shall be determined by the Director of the USPTO.

Each examiner will give priority to that application in his or her docket, whether amended or new, which has the oldest effective U.S. filing date. This basic policy applies to all applications; rare circumstances may justify TC Directors granting individual exceptions.

The actual filing date of a continuation-in-part application is used for docketing purposes. However, the examiner may act on a continuation-in-part application by using the effective filing date, if desired.

If at any time an examiner determines that the "effective filing date" status of any application differs from what the records show, the technical support staff should be informed, who should promptly amend the records to show the correct status, with the date of correction.

The order of examination for each examiner is to give priority to reissue applications and to reexamination proceedings, with top priority to reissue applications in which litigation has been stayed (MPEP § 1442.03), to ex parte reexamination proceedings involved in litigation (MPEP § 2261), and to inter partes reexamination proceedings involved in litigation (MPEP § 2661), then to those special cases having a fixed 30-day due date, such as examiner’s answers and decisions on motions. Most other cases in the "special" category (for example, interference cases, cases made special by petition, cases ready for final conclusion, etc.) will continue in this category, with the earliest effective U.S. filing date among them normally controlling priority.

All amendments before final rejection should be responded to within two months of receipt.