MPEP 714.12
Amendments and Other Replies After Final Rejection or Action

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

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714.12    Amendments and Other Replies After Final Rejection or Action [R-08.2017]

37 C.F.R. 1.116 Amendments and affidavits or other evidence after final action and prior to appeal.

  • (a) An amendment after final action must comply with § 1.114 or this section.
  • (b) After a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113 ) in an application or in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949 ) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913, but before or on the same date of filing an appeal (§ 41.31 or § 41.61 of this title):
    • (1) An amendment may be made canceling claims or complying with any requirement of form expressly set forth in a previous Office action;
    • (2) An amendment presenting rejected claims in better form for consideration on appeal may be admitted; or
    • (3) An amendment touching the merits of the application or patent under reexamination may be admitted upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the amendment is necessary and was not earlier presented.
  • (c) The admission of, or refusal to admit, any amendment after a final rejection, a final action, an action closing prosecution, or any related proceedings will not operate to relieve the application or reexamination proceeding from its condition as subject to appeal or to save the application from abandonment under § 1.135, or the reexamination prosecution from termination under § 1.550(d) or § 1.957(b) or limitation of further prosecution under § 1.957(c).
  • (d)
    • (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, no amendment other than canceling claims, where such cancellation does not affect the scope of any other pending claim in the proceeding, can be made in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the right of appeal notice under § 1.953 except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.
      • (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, an amendment made after a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113 ) in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949 ) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913 may not cancel claims where such cancellation affects the scope of any other pending claim in the reexamination proceeding except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.
    • (e) An affidavit or other evidence submitted after a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113 ) in an application or in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949 ) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913 but before or on the same date of filing an appeal (§ 41.31 or § 41.61 of this title), may be admitted upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the affidavit or other evidence is necessary and was not earlier presented.
    • (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (e) of this section, no affidavit or other evidence can be made in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the right of appeal notice under § 1.953 except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.
    • (g) After decision on appeal, amendments, affidavits and other evidence can only be made as provided in §§ 1.198 and 1.981, or to carry into effect a recommendation under § 41.50(c) of this title.

Once a final rejection that is not premature has been entered in an application, applicant or patent owner no longer has any right to unrestricted further prosecution. This does not mean that no further amendment or argument will be considered. Any amendment that will place the application either in condition for allowance or in better form for appeal may be entered. Also, amendments filed after a final rejection, but before or on the date of filing an appeal, complying with objections or requirements as to form are to be permitted after final action in accordance with 37 CFR 1.116(b). Amendments filed after the date of filing an appeal may be entered if the amendment complies with 37 CFR 41.33. See MPEP § 1206. Ordinarily, amendments filed after the final action are not entered unless approved by the examiner. See MPEP § 706.07(f), § 714.13 and § 12.6.

An affidavit or other evidence filed after a final rejection, but before or on the same date of filing an appeal, may be entered upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the affidavit or other evidence is necessary and was not earlier presented in compliance with 37 CFR 1.116(e). See 37 CFR 41.33 and MPEP § 1206 for information on affidavit or other evidence filed after appeal.

Applicant's submissions concerning the prior art exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) or prior art exclusion under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) are entitled to being considered even after a final rejection has been made, because if the exception or exclusion is established, the propriety of the rejection is obviated as a matter of law. If a final rejection of certain claims is obviated by a timely reply based on a proper claim of entitlement to the prior art exception or exclusion, then the Office should acknowledge the reply by modifying the status of the claims. For example, if the only rejection in the final rejection is obviated by a submission demonstrating entitlement to except or exclude prior art in the after-final reply, the Office should indicate that the claims are allowable, or prosecution should be reopened should the claims be considered unpatentable in view of newly applied prior art. Applicants should be aware, however, that the failure to make a proper submission of entitlement to except or exclude prior art following the first Office action may be considered by the Office as conduct that is considered to be a failure to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution if such prior art is thereafter excepted under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) or excluded under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See 37 CFR 1.704(c) and the discussion of comment 19 in Changes To Implement Patent Term Adjustment Under Twenty-Year Patent Term; Final Rule, 65 FR 56366, 79 (September 18, 2000).

The prosecution of an application before the examiner should ordinarily be concluded with the final action. However, one personal interview by applicant may be entertained after such final action if circumstances warrant. Thus, only one request by applicant for a personal interview after final should be granted, but in exceptional circumstances, a second personal interview may be initiated by the examiner if in his or her judgment this would materially assist in placing the application in condition for allowance.

Many of the difficulties encountered in the prosecution of patent applications after final rejection may be alleviated if each applicant includes, at the time of filing or no later than the first reply, claims varying from the broadest to which he or she believes he or she is entitled to the most detailed that he or she is willing to accept.