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Ruttler Mills PLLC

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New Patent Rules Delayed

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007 by Jim Ruttler

The U.S. Patent Office promulgated new rules for claims and continuations that were to become effective on November 1, 2007. A Virginia Federal Court issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Patent Office blocking the rules from being enforced until it could be determined whether they are consistent with the U.S. Constitution and the Patent Act of 1953. The U.S. Patent Office has complied and deferred enforcement of the rules until further notice. Currently, there are no limits to the number of claims that can be presented or to the number of continuation applications that can be filed for a single invention. The Patent Office believes that limits to claims and continuations are necessary to improve the overall efficiency of the patent application process. However, the U.S. Constitution and the Patent Act seem to preclude any limits to the number of claims and continuation applications that can be filed. In short, the new rules are being delayed until further notice from the Virginia Federal Court. Note that these rules are different from the proposed revisions to the Patent Act that are working their way through Congress. The proposed revisions include switching to a first-to-file system, permitting third party prior art submissions, and providing for a post-grant opposition period.

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