MPEP 708.01
List of Special Cases

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

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708.01    List of Special Cases [R-07.2015]

37 C.F.R. 1.102 Advancement of examination.

  • (a) Applications will not be advanced out of turn for examination or for further action except as provided by this part, or upon order of the Director to expedite the business of the Office, or upon filing of a request under paragraph (b) or (e) of this section or upon filing a petition or request under paragraph (c) or (d) of this section with a showing which, in the opinion of the Director, will justify so advancing it.
  • (b) Applications wherein the inventions are deemed of peculiar importance to some branch of the public service and the head of some department of the Government requests immediate action for that reason, may be advanced for examination.
  • (c) A petition to make an application special may be filed without a fee if the basis for the petition is:
    • (1) The applicant’s age or health; or
    • (2) That the invention will materially:
      • (i) Enhance the quality of the environment;
      • (ii) Contribute to the development or conservation of energy resources; or
      • (iii) Contribute to countering terrorism.
  • (d) A petition to make an application special on grounds other than those referred to in paragraph (c) of this section must be accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.17(h).
  • (e) A request for prioritized examination under this paragraph must comply with the requirements of this paragraph and be accompanied by the prioritized examination fee set forth in § 1.17(c), the processing fee set forth in § 1.17(i), and if not already paid, the publication fee set forth in § 1.18(d). An application for which prioritized examination has been requested may not contain or be amended to contain more than four independent claims, more than thirty total claims, or any multiple dependent claim. Prioritized examination under this paragraph will not be accorded to international applications that have not entered the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371, design applications, reissue applications, provisional applications, or reexamination proceedings. A request for prioritized examination must also comply with the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) or paragraph (e)(2) of this section.
    • (1) A request for prioritized examination may be filed with an original utility or plant nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). The application must include a specification as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 112 including at least one claim, a drawing when necessary, and the inventor’s oath or declaration on filing, except that the filing of an inventor’s oath or declaration may be postponed in accordance with § 1.53(f)(3) if an application data sheet meeting the conditions specified in § 1.53(f)(3)(i) is present upon filing. If the application is a utility application, it must be filed via the Office’s electronic filing system and include the filing fee under § 1.16(a), search fee under § 1.16(k), and examination fee under § 1.16(o) upon filing. If the application is a plant application, it must include the filing fee under § 1.16(c), search fee under § 1.16(m), and examination fee under § 1.16(q) upon filing. The request for prioritized examination in compliance with this paragraph must be present upon filing of the application, except that the applicant may file an amendment to cancel any independent claims in excess of four, any total claims in excess of thirty, and any multiple dependent claim not later than one month from a first decision on the request for prioritized examination. This one-month time period is not extendable.
    • (2) A request for prioritized examination may be filed with or after a request for continued examination in compliance with § 1.114. If the application is a utility application, the request must be filed via the Office’s electronic filing system. The request must be filed before the mailing of the first Office action after the filing of the request for continued examination under § 1.114. Only a single such request for prioritized examination under this paragraph may be granted in an application.

Certain procedures by the examiners take precedence over actions even on special cases.

For example, all papers typed and ready for signature should be completed and mailed.

All allowed cases returned to the examiner marked as a "Printer Rush" must be processed and returned within the period indicated.

Reissue applications, particularly those involved in stayed litigation, should be given priority.

Applications in which practice requires that the examiner act within a set period, such as 2 months after appellants brief to furnish the examiner’s answers (MPEP § 1208), necessarily take priority over special cases without specific time limits.

If an examiner has an application in which he or she is satisfied that it is in condition for allowance, or in which he or she is satisfied will have to be finally rejected, he or she should give such action forthwith instead of making the application await its turn.

Subject alone to diligent prosecution by the applicant, an application for patent that has once been made special and advanced out of turn for examination by reason of a ruling made in that particular case (by the Director of the USPTO or a Commissioner) will continue to be special throughout its entire course of prosecution in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including appeal, if any, to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

The following is a list of special cases (those which are advanced out of turn for examination):

  • (A) Applications wherein the inventions are deemed of peculiar importance to some branch of the public service and when for that reason the head of some department of the Government requests immediate action and the Director of the USPTO so orders (37 CFR 1.102 ).
  • (B) Applications made special as a result of a petition to make special, a request for prioritized examination, or a request for participation in a PPH program. (See MPEP § 708.02 et seq.)
  • (C) Applications for reissues, particularly those involved in stayed litigation (37 CFR 1.176 ).
  • (D) Applications remanded by an appellate tribunal for further action.
  • (E) An application, once taken up for action by an examiner according to its effective filing date, should be treated as special by an examiner, art unit or Technology Center to which it may subsequently be transferred; exemplary situations include new cases transferred as the result of a telephone election and cases transferred as the result of a timely reply to any official action.
  • (F) Applications which appear to interfere with other applications previously considered and found to be allowable, or which will be placed in interference with an unexpired patent or patents.
  • (G) Applications ready for allowance, or ready for allowance except as to formal matters.
  • (H) Applications which are in condition for final rejection.
  • (I) Applications pending more than 5 years, including those which, by relation to a prior United States application, have an effective pendency of more than 5 years. See MPEP § 707.02.
  • (J) Reexamination proceedings, MPEP §§ 2261 and 2661.

See also MPEP §§ 714.13, 1207, and 1309.