MPEP 710.02(e)
Extension of Time

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

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710.02(e)    Extension of Time [R-07.2015]

37 C.F.R. 1.136 Extensions of time.

  • (a)
    • (1) If an applicant is required to reply within a nonstatutory or shortened statutory time period, applicant may extend the time period for reply up to the earlier of the expiration of any maximum period set by statute or five months after the time period set for reply, if a petition for an extension of time and the fee set in § 1.17(a) are filed, unless:
      • (i) Applicant is notified otherwise in an Office action;
      • (ii) The reply is a reply brief submitted pursuant to § 41.41 of this title;
      • (iii) The reply is a request for an oral hearing submitted pursuant to § 41.47(a) of this title;
      • (iv) The reply is to a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board pursuant to § 41.50 or § 41.52 of this chapter or to § 90.3 of this chapter; or
      • (v) The application is involved in a contested case (§ 41.101(a) of this title) or a derivation proceeding (§ 42.4(b) of this title).
    • (2) The date on which the petition and the fee have been filed is the date for purposes of determining the period of extension and the corresponding amount of the fee. The expiration of the time period is determined by the amount of the fee paid. A reply must be filed prior to the expiration of the period of extension to avoid abandonment of the application (§ 1.135 ), but in no situation may an applicant reply later than the maximum time period set by statute, or be granted an extension of time under paragraph (b) of this section when the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section are available.
    • (3) A written request may be submitted in an application that is an authorization to treat any concurrent or future reply, requiring a petition for an extension of time under this paragraph for its timely submission, as incorporating a petition for extension of time for the appropriate length of time. An authorization to charge all required fees, fees under § 1.17, or all required extension of time fees will be treated as a constructive petition for an extension of time in any concurrent or future reply requiring a petition for an extension of time under this paragraph for its timely submission. Submission of the fee set forth in § 1.17(a) will also be treated as a constructive petition for an extension of time in any concurrent reply requiring a petition for an extension of time under this paragraph for its timely submission.
  • (b) When a reply cannot be filed within the time period set for such reply and the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section are not available, the period for reply will be extended only for sufficient cause and for a reasonable time specified. Any request for an extension of time under this paragraph must be filed on or before the day on which such reply is due, but the mere filing of such a request will not affect any extension under this paragraph. In no situation can any extension carry the date on which reply is due beyond the maximum time period set by statute. Any request under this section must be accompanied by the petition fee set forth in § 1.17(g).
  • (c) If an applicant is notified in a "Notice of Allowability" that an application is otherwise in condition for allowance, the following time periods are not extendable if set in the "Notice of Allowability" or in an Office action having a mail date on or after the mail date of the "Notice of Allowability" :
    • (1) The period for submitting an inventor’s oath or declaration
    • (2) The period for submitting formal drawings set under § 1.85(c); and
    • (3) The period for making a deposit set under § 1.809(c).
  • (d) See § 1.550(c) for extensions of time in ex parte reexamination proceedings, § 1.956 for extensions of time in inter partes reexamination proceedings; §§ 41.4(a) and 41.121(a)(3) of this chapter for extensions of time in contested cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; § 42.5(c) of this chapter for extensions of time in trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; and § 90.3 of this chapter for extensions of time to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or to commence a civil action.

37 CFR 1.136 provides for two distinct procedures to extend the period for action or reply in particular situations. The procedure which is available for use in a particular situation will depend upon the circumstances. 37 CFR 1.136(a) permits an applicant to file a petition for extension of time and a fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a) up to 5 months after the end of the time period set to take action except:

  • (A) where prohibited by statute,
  • (B) where prohibited by one of the items listed in the rule, or
  • (C) where applicant has been notified otherwise in an Office action.

The petition and fee must be filed within the extended time period for reply requested in the petition and can be filed prior to, with, or without the reply. The filing of the petition and fee will extend the time period to take action up to 5 months dependent on the amount of the fee paid except in those circumstances noted above. 37 CFR 1.136(a) will effectively reduce the amount of paperwork required by applicants and the Office since the extension will be effective upon filing of the petition and payment of the appropriate fee and without acknowledgment or action by the Office and since the petition and fee can be filed with or without the reply. 37 CFR 1.136(b) provides for requests for extensions of time upon a showing of sufficient cause when the procedure of 37 CFR 1.136(a) is not available. Although the petition and fee procedure of 37 CFR 1.136(a) will normally be available within 5 months after a set period for reply has expired, an extension request for cause under 37 CFR 1.136(b) must be filed during the set period for reply. Extensions of time in interference proceedings are governed by 37 CFR 41.4(a).

It should be very carefully noted that neither the primary examiner nor the Director of the USPTO has authority to extend the shortened statutory period unless a petition for the extension is filed. While the shortened period may be extended within the limits of the statutory 6 months period, no extension can operate to extend the time beyond the 6 months.

Any request under 37 CFR 1.136(b) for extension of time for reply must state a reason in support thereof and supply the fee under 37 CFR 1.17(g). Such extensions will only be granted for sufficient cause and must be filed prior to the end of the set period for reply.

Extensions of time with the payment of a fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) are possible in reply to most Office actions of the examiner. Exceptions include:

  • (A) all extensions in a reexamination proceeding (see 37 CFR 1.550(c) and MPEP § 2265 for ex parte reexamination, and 37 CFR 1.956 and MPEP § 2665 for inter partes reexamination);
  • (B) all extensions during an interference proceeding (but not preparatory to an interference where a claim is suggested for interference);
  • (C) those specific situations where an Office action states that the provisions of 37 CFR 1.136(a) are not applicable (e.g., reply to a notice of allowability, in reissue applications associated with litigation, or where an application in allowable condition has nonelected claims and time is set to cancel such claims); and
  • (D) those limited instances where applicant is given a specified time limit to take certain actions.

The fees for extensions of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) are set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a) and are subject to a 50% reduction for persons or concerns qualifying as small entities. The fees itemized at 37 CFR 1.17(a) are cumulative. Thus, if an applicant has paid an extension fee in the amount set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a)(l) for a 1-month extension of time and thereafter decides that an additional 1 month is needed, the proper fee would be the amount set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a)(2) less the amount set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a)(l) which was previously paid.

37 CFR 1.136(a)(3) provides that:

  • (A) a written request may be submitted in an application that is an authorization to treat any concurrent or future reply that requires a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) to be timely, as incorporating a petition for extension of time for the appropriate length of time;
  • (B) an authorization to charge all required fees, fees under 37 CFR 1.17, or all required extension of time fees will be treated as a constructive petition for an extension of time in any concurrent or future reply requiring a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) to be timely; and
  • (C) submission of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a) will be treated as a constructive petition for an extension of time in any concurrent reply requiring a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) to be timely.

Accordingly, 37 CFR 1.136(a)(3) is a "safety net" to avoid a potential loss of patent rights for applicants who inadvertently omitted a petition, but who had:

  • (A) previously filed a written request to treat a reply requiring an extension of time as incorporating a petition for such extension of time;
  • (B) previously filed an authorization to charge all required fees, fees under 37 CFR 1.17, or all required extension of time fees; or
  • (C) submitted the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a) with the reply.

The Office strongly recommends including a written petition for any desired extension of time in reply to the Office action for which the extension was requested to avoid processing delays.

A proper petition may be only a few sentences such as

The applicant herewith petitions the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to extend the time for reply to the Office action dated ____ for ____ month(s) from ____ to ____. Submitted herewith is a check for $____ to cover the cost of the extension [Please Charge my deposit account number ____, in the amount of $ ____ to cover the cost of the extension. Any deficiency or overpayment should be charged or credited to the above numbered deposit account.]

37 CFR 1.136(a)(2) provides, in part, that "[t]he date on which the petition and the fee have been filed is the date for purposes of determining the period of extension and the corresponding amount of the fee." Thus, a petition under 37 CFR 1.136(a) need not be accompanied by a reply (e.g., in situations in which the extension is necessary for copendency with a continuing application). 37 CFR 1.136(a)(2), however, clarifies that "[a] reply must be filed prior to the expiration of the period of extension to avoid abandonment of the application" under 35 U.S.C. 133 and 37 CFR 1.135 (e.g., where the extension is obtained solely for the purpose of copendency with a continuing application, and no reply is filed, the application will become abandoned upon expiration of the so-extended period for reply).

While a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) must be filed within the extended period for reply, the petition need not be filed within the original shortened statutory period for reply. If a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) (with or without a reply) requests an insufficient period of extension such that the petition would be filed outside the so-extended period for reply, but the period for reply could be further extended under 37 CFR 1.136(a) such that the petition would be filed within the further extended period for reply, it is Office practice to simply treat the petition for extension of time as requesting the period of extension necessary to make the petition filed within the further extended period for reply if the petition or application contains an authorization to charge extension fees or fees under 37 CFR 1.17 to a deposit account. That is, in such situations a petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) is simply construed as requesting the appropriate period of extension. For example, if a petition (and requisite fee) for a two-month extension of time containing an authorization to charge fee deficiencies to a deposit account are filed in an application four and one-half months after the date a notice of appeal was filed in that application, it is Office practice to treat the petition as requesting the period of extension (three months) necessary to make the petition filed within the extended period for reply. This practice applies even if no further reply (appeal brief or continued prosecution application (CPA) under 37 CFR 1.53(d) ) is filed in the application to be treated as a constructive petition for an extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a)(3).

To facilitate processing, any petition for an extension of time (or petition to revive under 37 CFR 1.137 ) in which a continuing application is filed in lieu of a reply should specifically refer to the filing of the continuing application and also should include an express abandonment of the prior application conditioned upon the granting of the petition and the granting of a filing date to the continuing application.

Applicants are cautioned that an extension of time will not be effected in the prior application by filing a petition for an extension of time, extension fee, or fee authorization, in the continuing application. This is because the petition for an extension of time (or constructive petition under 37 CFR 1.136(a)(3) ) must be directed toward and filed in the application to which it pertains in accordance with 37 CFR 1.4 and 1.5.

Where a reply is filed after the set period for reply has expired and no petition or fee accompanies it, the reply will not be accepted as timely until the petition (which may be a constructive petition under 37 CFR 1.136(a)(3) ) and the appropriate fee are submitted. For example, if an Office action sets a 3-month period for reply and applicant replies in the 4th month and includes only the petition for a 1-month extension of time, the reply is not acceptable until the fee is filed. If the fee is not filed until the 5th month, an additional fee for the 2nd month extension would also be required in order to render the reply timely.

An extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136 is not necessary when submitting a supplemental reply to an Office action if a complete first reply was timely filed in reply to the Office action.

When the provisions of 37 CFR 1.136(a) are not applicable, extensions of time for cause pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(b) may be possible. Any such extension must be filed on or before the day on which the reply is due. The mere filing of such a request will not effect any extension. All such requests are to be decided by the Technology Center (TC) Director. No extension can operate to extend the time beyond the 6-month statutory period. Extensions of time under 37 CFR 1.136(b) (or 37 CFR 1.136(a) ) are not available to extend the time period set in a Notice of Allowability, or in an Office action having a mail date after the mail date of the Notice of Allowability, to submit an inventor’s oath or declaration under 37 CFR 1.63 and 1.64, to submit formal drawings, or to make a deposit of biological material.

If a request for extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(b) is filed in duplicate and accompanied by a stamped return-addressed envelope, the Office will indicate the action taken on the duplicate and return it promptly in the envelope. Utilization of this procedure is optional on the part of applicant. In this procedure, the action taken on the request should be noted on the original and on the copy which is to be returned. The notation on the original, which becomes a part of the file record, should be signed by the person granting or denying the extension, and the name and title of that person should also appear in the notation on the copy which is returned to the person requesting the extension.

When the request is granted, no further action by the Office is necessary. When the request is granted in part, the extent of the extension granted will be clearly indicated on both the original and on the copy which is to be returned. When the request is denied, the reason for the denial will be indicated on both the original and on the copy which is to be returned or a formal decision letter giving the reason for the denial will be forwarded promptly after the mailing of the duplicate.

If the request for extension of time is granted, the due date is computed from the date stamped or printed on the action, as opposed to the original due date. See MPEP § 710.01(a). For example, a reply to an action with a 3-month shortened statutory period, dated November 30, is due on the following February 28 (or 29, if it is a leap year). If the period for reply is extended an additional month, the reply becomes due on March 30, not on March 28.

Hand-carried requests for extensions of time will no longer be accepted in the TCs. Hand-carried requests for extensions of time may only be delivered to the Customer Window, which is located at:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Customer Service Window

Randolph Building

401 Dulany Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

Applicant should be advised promptly regarding action taken on the request for extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(b) so that the file record will be complete.

Form paragraphs 7.98 or 7.98.01 may be used where a reply is filed late but an extension of time is possible.

¶ 7.98    Reply Is Late, Extension of Time Suggested

Applicant’s reply was received in the Office on [1], which is after the expiration of the period for reply set in the last Office action mailed on [2]. This application will become abandoned unless applicant obtains an extension of time to reply to the last Office action under 37 CFR 1.136(a).

Examiner Note:

Since the provisions of 37 CFR 1.136(a) do not apply to reexamination proceedings or to litigation related reissue applications, do not use this form paragraph in these cases.

¶ 7.98.01    Reply Is Late, Extension of Time Suggested, Pro Se

Applicant’s reply to the Office Action of [1] was received in the Patent and Trademark Office on [2], which is after the expiration of the period for reply set in the above noted Office action. The application will become abandoned unless applicant obtains an extension of the period for reply set in the above noted Office action. An extension of the reply period may be obtained by filing a petition under 37 CFR 1.136(a). The petition must be accompanied by the appropriate fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(a) (copy of current fee schedule attached). The date on which the reply, the petition, and the fee have been filed is the date of the reply and also the date for purposes of determining the period of extension and the corresponding amount of the fee due. The expiration of the time period is determined by the amount of the fee paid. Applicant is advised that in no case can any extension carry the date for reply to an Office action beyond the maximum period of SIX MONTHS set by statute. Additionally, extensions may not be granted under 37 CFR 1.136(a) for more than FIVE MONTHS beyond the time period set in an Office action.

Examiner Note:

Enclose a photocopy of current fee schedule with action so that applicant can determine the required fee.

I.    FINAL REJECTION — TIME FOR REPLY

If an applicant initially replies within 2 months from the date of mailing of any final rejection setting a 3-month shortened statutory period for reply and the Office does not mail an advisory action until after the end of the 3-month shortened statutory period, the period for reply for purposes of determining the amount of any extension fee will be the date on which the Office mails the advisory action advising applicant of the status of the application, but in no event can the period extend beyond 6 months from the date of the final rejection. This procedure applies only to a first reply to a final rejection. The following language must be included by the examiner in each final rejection.

A SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD FOR REPLY TO THIS FINAL ACTION IS SET TO EXPIRE THREE MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THIS ACTION. IN THE EVENT A FIRST REPLY IS FILED WITHIN TWO MONTHS OF THE MAILING DATE OF THIS FINAL ACTION AND THE ADVISORY ACTION IS NOT MAILED UNTIL AFTER THE END OF THE THREE-MONTH SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD, THEN THE SHORTENED STATUTORY PERIOD WILL EXPIRE ON THE DATE THE ADVISORY ACTION IS MAILED, AND ANY EXTENSION FEE PURSUANT TO 37 CFR 1.136(a) WILL BE CALCULATED FROM THE MAILING DATE OF THE ADVISORY ACTION. IN NO EVENT WILL THE STATUTORY PERIOD FOR REPLY EXPIRE LATER THAN SIX MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF THIS FINAL ACTION.

For example, if applicant initially replies within 2 months from the date of mailing of a final rejection and the examiner mails an advisory action before the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection, the shortened statutory period will expire at the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection. In such a case, if a petition for extension of time is granted, the due date for a reply is computed from the date stamped or printed on the Office action with the final rejection. See MPEP § 710.01(a). If the examiner, however, does not mail an advisory action until after the end of 3 months, the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the examiner mails the advisory action and any extension of time fee may be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event will the statutory period for reply expire later than 6 months from the mailing date of the final Office action.

See also MPEP § 706.07(f).

II.    EXTENSIONS OF TIME TO SUBMIT AFFIDAVITS AFTER FINAL REJECTION

Frequently, applicants request an extension of time, stating as a reason therefor that more time is needed in which to submit an affidavit. When such a request is filed after final rejection, the granting of the request for extension of time is without prejudice to the right of the examiner to question why the affidavit is now necessary and why it was not earlier presented. If applicant’s showing is insufficient, the examiner may deny entry of the affidavit, notwithstanding the previous grant of an extension of time to submit it. The grant of an extension of time in these circumstances serves merely to keep the application from becoming abandoned while allowing the applicant the opportunity to present the affidavit or to take other appropriate action. Moreover, prosecution of the application to save it from abandonment must include such timely, complete and proper action as required by 37 CFR 1.113. The admission of the affidavit for purposes other than allowance of the application, or the refusal to admit the affidavit, and any proceedings relative thereto, shall not operate to save the application from abandonment.

Implicit in the above practice is the fact that affidavits submitted after final rejection are subject to the same treatment as amendments submitted after final rejection. See 37 CFR 1.116(c).

Failure to file a reply during the shortened statutory period results in abandonment of the application.

Extensions of time to appeal to the courts under 37 CFR 90.3(c) are covered in MPEP § 1216.

III.    NO EXTENSIONS OF TIME AFTER PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE

The statutory (nonextendable) time period for payment of the issue fee is 3 months from the date of the Notice of Allowance (35 U.S.C. 151 ). In situations where informalities such as drawing corrections are outstanding at the time of allowance, applicants will be notified on the PTOL-37 (Notice of Allowability) of such informalities. Extensions of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) or (b) are NOT available to correct such informalities. Any such informalities must be corrected and the issue fee and the publication fee, if required, must be paid within the 3-month period. If a Notice Requiring Inventor’s Oath or Declaration (PTOL-2306) is sent with the Notice of Allowability, the required inventor’s oath or declaration must be submitted no later than the payment of the issue fee. See 35 U.S.C. 115(f).