The refusal to grant claims because the subject matter as claimed is considered unpatentable is called a “rejection.” The term “rejected” is used by the patent examiner when the substance of the patent claims being sought are deemed to be unallowable under 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103 and/or 112. If the form of the claim (as distinguished from its substance) is improper, an “objection” is made. An example of a matter of form as to which objection is made is dependency of a claim on a previously rejected claim. You can also get an objection where claims have not been properly grouped together in violation of 37 CFR 75(g).
If you get a patent that won’t make anyone any money, including yourself, the government seems perfectly willing to presume that your worthless patent is valid. However, if you get a commercially valuable patent covering an invention that becomes ubiquitous, the government will not presume your patent to be valid. What exactly was the point of the long, costly and arduous patent examination in the first place if the PTAB simply refuses to apply the presumption of validity? What good is an examination process that ends with a patent that isn’t presumed valid by the agency that granted it in the first place? If the Patent Office refuses to presume the work product of patent examiners is solid why should anyone else? What an incredible waste of time and money.
This was the SAWS program; an oversight procedure for bringing information to the attention of management. It was designed, by intention, to cast a broad and sweeping net. It was designed to permit resources to be brought to bear on high profile or complex legal, ethical, or controversial subject matter… The SAWS program is not a system of stalling patents. While the Bereznak Article asserts “(a)ny application that is categorized in SAWS … is placed in a special type of patent purgatory.” This is just not true.
The patent examiner stated that, when he had tried to allow the patent application, the USPTO system returned a thread – “SAWS case – cannot be allowed.” The application was indeed rejected… The USPTO explained that our counsel’s law firm (a respected IP law firm) had never heard of the Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS) because the firm, and indeed the public at large, is not supposed to know of this policy. The Office explained that the Sensitive Application Warning System is an internal USPTO policy, that the policy has nothing to do with the public, and that Gofigure was not supposed to have been informed about its designation in this internal USPTO program.
The terms patent strength and patent quality get used frequently within the industry, but what do they really mean? To a large extent the meaning of the terms depends on your viewpoint. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has historically employed a variety of quality metrics, but is a patent that is considered high quality from the perspective of the USPTO a strong patent, or a patent that the industry would view as a high quality patent, or one that would be viewed to be a valuable patent?
The first time you will substantively hear from the examiner is when the examiner issues what is referred to as a First Office Action on the Merits (FOAM). At this point you are now truly beginning what most would refer to as prosecution of the patent application. The examiner has told you what, if anything, he or she thinks is patentable, and explained (usually in abbreviated fashion) what claims are lacking and why. The applicant, or attorney, must respond to each and everything raised by the examiner in a response filed no later than 6 months after the date of the First Office Action. Notwithstanding the 6 month period to respond, the Patent Examiner will set what is called a “shortened statutory period” to respond, which for an Office Action is 3 months. The shortened statutory period is the time period within which you can respond without having to pay a fee to respond. After the shortened statutory period, which can be 1, 2 or 3 months depending on what the Examiner sends, you can respond up to 6 months but only if you request AND pay for an automatic extension. Automatic extensions can get expensive, the cost goes up depending on how many months of extension you have to purchase. They are called automatic extensions because the Patent Office must grant the extension if you ask and pay for the extension. You should, however, plan on doing things within the shorten statutory period in order to conserve funds and in order to get the maximum patent term.
Yes, it was I. The former Borat applying patent examiner turned law student. See Prior Borat: Non-traditional Prior Art Rejections! If nothing other than offering comic relief, the now infamous Borat patent rejection has hopefully illustrated at least one fundamental truth to the inventor and patent practitioner alike – don’t forget to do a thorough search of non-patent literature. I won’t bore you with citations from the MPEP. We all know what the Manual says. Instead I will attempt to provide some general insights into the examination process.