MPEP 802
Basis for Restriction Practice in Statute and Rules

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

Previous: §801 | Next: §802.01

802    Basis for Restriction Practice in Statute and Rules [R-07.2015]

The basis for restriction practice is found in the following statute and rules:

35 U.S.C. 121 Divisional applications.

[Editor Note: Applicable to any patent application filed on or after September 16, 2012. See pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 121 for the law otherwise applicable.]

If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one application, the Director may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions. If the other invention is made the subject of a divisional application which complies with the requirements of section 120 it shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the original application. A patent issuing on an application with respect to which a requirement for restriction under this section has been made, or on an application filed as a result of such a requirement, shall not be used as a reference either in the Patent and Trademark Office or in the courts against a divisional application or against the original application or any patent issued on either of them, if the divisional application is filed before the issuance of the patent on the other application. The validity of a patent shall not be questioned for failure of the Director to require the application to be restricted to one invention.

pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 121 Divisional applications.

[Editor Note: Not applicable to any patent application filed on or after September 16, 2012. See 35 U.S.C. 121 for the law otherwise applicable.]

If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in one application, the Director may require the application to be restricted to one of the inventions. If the other invention is made the subject of a divisional application which complies with the requirements of section 120 of this title it shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the original application. A patent issuing on an application with respect to which a requirement for restriction under this section has been made, or on an application filed as a result of such a requirement, shall not be used as a reference either in the Patent and Trademark Office or in the courts against a divisional application or against the original application or any patent issued on either of them, if the divisional application is filed before the issuance of the patent on the other application. If a divisional application is directed solely to subject matter described and claimed in the original application as filed, the Director may dispense with signing and execution by the inventor. The validity of a patent shall not be questioned for failure of the Director to require the application to be restricted to one invention.

37 C.F.R. 1.141 Different inventions in one national application.

(a) Two or more independent and distinct inventions may not be claimed in one national application, except that more than one species of an invention, not to exceed a reasonable number, may be specifically claimed in different claims in one national application, provided the application also includes an allowable claim generic to all the claimed species and all the claims to species in excess of one are written in dependent form (§ 1.75 ) or otherwise include all the limitations of the generic claim.

(b) Where claims to all three categories, product, process of making, and process of use, are included in a national application, a three way requirement for restriction can only be made where the process of making is distinct from the product. If the process of making and the product are not distinct, the process of using may be joined with the claims directed to the product and the process of making the product even though a showing of distinctness between the product and process of using the product can be made.

37 C.F.R. 1.142 Requirement for restriction.

  • (a) If two or more independent and distinct inventions are claimed in a single application, the examiner in an Office action will require the applicant in the reply to that action to elect an invention to which the claims will be restricted, this official action being called a requirement for restriction (also known as a requirement for division). Such requirement will normally be made before any action on the merits; however, it may be made at any time before final action.
  • (b) Claims to the invention or inventions not elected, if not canceled, are nevertheless withdrawn from further consideration by the examiner by the election, subject however to reinstatement in the event the requirement for restriction is withdrawn or overruled.

The pertinent Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Articles and Rules are cited and discussed in MPEP Chapter 1800. Sections 1850, 1875, and 1893.03(d) should be consulted for discussions on unity of invention:

  • (A) before the International Searching Authority;
  • (B) before the International Preliminary Examining Authority; and
  • (C) in the National Stage under 35 U.S.C. 371.