(a) Examiner's action.(1) On taking up an application for examination or a patent in a reexamination proceeding, the examiner shall make a thorough study thereof and shall make a thorough investigation of the available prior art relating to the subject matter of the claimed invention. The examination shall be complete with respect both to compliance of the application or patent under reexamination with the applicable statutes and rules and to the patentability of the invention as claimed, as well as with respect to matters of form, unless otherwise indicated.
(2) The applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding, both the patent owner and the requester, will be notified of the examiner's action. The reasons for any adverse action or any objection or requirement will be stated in an Office action and such information or references will be given as may be useful in aiding the applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding the patent owner, to judge the propriety of continuing the prosecution.
(3) An international-type search will be made in all national applications filed on and after June 1, 1978.
(4) Any national application may also have an international-type search report prepared thereon at the time of the national examination on the merits, upon specific written request therefor and payment of the international-type search report fee set forth in § 1.21(e). The Patent and Trademark Office does not require that a formal report of an international-type search be prepared in order to obtain a search fee refund in a later filed international application.
(b) Completeness of examiner's action. The examiner's action will be complete as to all matters, except that in appropriate circumstances, such as misjoinder of invention, fundamental defects in the application, and the like, the action of the examiner may be limited to such matters before further action is made. However, matters of form need not be raised by the examiner until a claim is found allowable.
(c) Rejection of claims.(1) If the invention is not considered patentable, or not considered patentable as claimed, the claims, or those considered unpatentable will be rejected.
(2) In rejecting claims for want of novelty or for obviousness, the examiner must cite the best references at his or her command. When a reference is complex or shows or describes inventions other than that claimed by the applicant, the particular part relied on must be designated as nearly as practicable. The pertinence of each reference, if not apparent, must be clearly explained and each rejected claim specified.
(3) In rejecting claims the examiner may rely upon admissions by the applicant, or the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding, as to any matter affecting patentability and, insofar as rejections in applications are concerned, may also rely upon facts within his or her knowledge pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
(4) Subject matter which is developed by another person which qualifies as prior art only under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g) may be used as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 103 against a claimed invention unless the entire rights to the subject matter and the claimed invention were commonly owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person at the time the claimed invention was made.
(i) Subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been commonly owned by the same person, or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person in any application and in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, if:
(A) The claimed invention and the subject matter was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
(B) The claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
(C) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
(ii) For purposes of paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section, the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.
(iii) To overcome a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon subject matter which qualifies as prior art under only one or more of 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g) via 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2), the applicant must provide a statement to the effect that the prior art and the claimed invention were made by or on the behalf of parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(3) and paragraph (c)(4)(ii) of this section, that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and that the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement.
(5) The claims in any original application naming an inventor will be rejected as being precluded by a waiver in a published statutory invention registration naming that inventor if the same subject matter is claimed in the application and the statutory invention registration. The claims in any reissue application naming an inventor will be rejected as being precluded by a waiver in a published statutory invention registration naming that inventor if the reissue application seeks to claim subject matter:
(i) Which was not covered by claims issued in the patent prior to the date of publication of the statutory invention registration; and
(ii) Which was the same subject matter waived in the statutory invention registration.
(d) Citation of references.(1) If domestic patents are cited by the examiner, their numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated. If domestic patent application publications are cited by the examiner, their publication number, publication date, and the names of the applicants will be stated. If foreign published applications or patents are cited, their nationality or country, numbers and dates, and the names of the patentees will be stated, and such other data will be furnished as may be necessary to enable the applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding, the patent owner, to identify the published applications or patents cited. In citing foreign published applications or patents, in case only a part of the document is involved, the particular pages and sheets containing the parts relied upon will be identified. If printed publications are cited, the author (if any), title, date, pages or plates, and place of publication, or place where a copy can be found, will be given.
(2) When a rejection in an application is based on facts within the personal knowledge of an employee of the Office, the data shall be as specific as possible, and the reference must be supported, when called for by the applicant, by the affidavit of such employee, and such affidavit shall be subject to contradiction or explanation by the affidavits of the applicant and other persons.
(e) Reasons for allowance. If the examiner believes that the record of the prosecution as a whole does not make clear his or her reasons for allowing a claim or claims, the examiner may set forth such reasoning. The reasons shall be incorporated into an Office action rejecting other claims of the application or patent under reexamination or be the subject of a separate communication to the applicant or patent owner. The applicant or patent owner may file a statement commenting on the reasons for allowance within such time as may be specified by the examiner. Failure by the examiner to respond to any statement commenting on reasons for allowance does not give rise to any implication.