Recent test takers report question #42 from the October 2003 (a) exam is in the Patent Bar database of tested questions.
42. A registered practitioner filed a first patent application wherein claims 1-10 claims are directed to a widget and claims 11-20 are directed to a method of making a widget. Following a proper restriction requirement, claims 1-10 were elected for prosecution. The primary examiner rejected claims 1-10. The practitioner filed a reply that only consisted of argument. The examiner was unpersuaded by the argument, and entered a final rejection of claims 1-10. In reply, the practitioner filed a continuing application containing claims 1-10 directed to a widget, and claims 11-20 directed to a method of using a widget. In the continuing application, the examiner enters a new written restriction requirement requiring a provisional election between claims 1-10 and claims 11-20. The practitioner believes the new restriction requirement is improper and would like the rejection in the parent application reviewed as well. The new restriction requirement has not been made final. Which of the following best describes whether and why, in accordance with the patent laws, rules, and procedures as related by the MPEP, the reply to the restriction requirement may be by appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences?
(A) Yes. An immediate appeal to the Board can be filed to review the restriction requirement if any claims have been twice rejected.
(B) No. An immediate appeal cannot be filed to the Board because the new claims directed to a method of using a widget have not been twice rejected.
(C) Yes. An immediate appeal can be filed for any claims that have been twice rejected because the Board can also review any second restriction requirement made against the same claims.
(D) No. An immediate appeal to the Board cannot be lodged because a provisional election has not been made of either the claims to a widget or claims to a method of use of the widget.
(E) No. An immediate appeal cannot be taken because no claims are currently under rejection. Review of a final restriction requirement is only possible as a petitionable matter before a Technology Center Director. It is not an appealable matter to the Board.
ANSWER: (E) is the most correct answer. MPEP § 1002.02(c) identifies among the matters petitionable to and decided by the Technology Center Directors “Petitions from a final decision of examiner requiring restriction in patent applications, 37 CFR 1.144, MPEP § 818.03(c).” Hence (A), and (C), which provide for review before the Board of Patent Appealsand Interferences are clearly erroneous. Since the restriction requirement is not yet “final” no review is possible at this juncture. Answers (A), (B), (C), and (D) are also incorrect because no claim is under rejection hence no appeal is possible. See MPEP § 1205, which provides that under 37 CFR 1.191(a), an applicant for a patent dissatisfied with the primary examiner’s decision in the second or final rejection of his or her claims may appeal to the Board for review of the examiner’s rejection by filing a notice of appeal and the required fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(b) within the time period provided under 37 CFR 1.134.and 1.136. A notice of appeal may be filed after any of the claims has been twice rejected, regardless of whether the claim(s) has/have been finally rejected. The limitation of “twice or finally…rejected” does not have to be related to a particular application. For example, if any claim was rejected in a parent application, and the claim is again rejected in a continuing application, then applicant will be entitled to file an appeal in the continuing application, even if the claim was rejected only once in the continuing application.