808.01(a) Species [R-08.2012]
Where there is no disclosure of a relationship between species (see MPEP § 806.04(b)), they are independent inventions. A requirement for restriction is permissible if there is a patentable difference between the species as claimed and there would be a serious burden on the examiner if restriction is not required. See MPEP § 803 and § 808.02.
Where there is a relationship disclosed between species, such disclosed relation must be discussed and reasons advanced leading to the conclusion that the disclosed relation does not prevent restriction, in order to establish the propriety of restriction.
When a requirement for restriction between either independent or distinct species is made, applicant must elect a single disclosed species even if applicant disagrees with the examiner’s restriction requirement.
Election of species should not be required between claimed species that are considered clearly unpatentable (obvious) over each other. In making a requirement for restriction in an application claiming plural species, the examiner should group together species considered clearly unpatentable over each other.
Election of species may be required prior to a search on the merits (A) in applications containing claims to a plurality of species with no generic claims, and (B) in applications containing both species claims and generic or Markush claims.
In applications where only generic claims are presented, restriction cannot be required unless the generic claims recite or encompass such a multiplicity of species that an unduly extensive and burdensome search would be necessary to search the entire scope of the claim. See MPEP § 803.02 and § 809.02(a). If applicant presents species claims to more than one patentably distinct species of the invention after an Office action on only generic claims, with no restriction requirement, the Office may require the applicant to elect a single species for examination.
In all applications where a generic claim is found allowable, the application should be treated as indicated in MPEP § 809 and § 821.04(a). See MPEP § 803.02 and § 809.02(a) for guidance regarding how to require restriction between species.