October 21, 2009

USPTO Issues Notice of Change to Docketing of RCEs

On October 19, 2009, United States Patent and Trademark Office released a “Notice of Change to Docketing of Requests for Continued Examination.”  According to this Notice, requests for continued examination (“RCEs”) filed on or after November 15, 2009 will be placed on the examiner’s “Special New” application docket instead of the examiner’s amended docket.  An examiner’s “Special New” docket also includes divisional and continuation applications, as well as applications accorded special status under 37 C.F.R. § 1.102.  

The stated purpose of this change is to allow examiners more flexibility in managing their workload, insofar as examiners will no longer be required to act on an RCE within two months of entry, as is required for applications on the examiner’s amended docket.  This change in docketing procedure has the potential to significantly slow the prosecution of RCEs.  

In accordance with the current practice, RCEs filed before November 15 will be placed on the examiner’s amended docket.  The treatment of RCEs which fail to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 132(b) and 37 C.F.R. § 1.114 will not change. Read the full notice here.