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The U.S. Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt all proceedings in its en banc review of controversial patent prosecution rules until after the Senate confirms a new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The department, along with the other parties in Tafas v. Doll, is seeking the delay to give the new director an opportunity to examine the rules and “determine what course the USPTO should take in the future with respect to those rules, including whether to rescind the rules,” according to the motion filed with the court. President Barack Obama last month nominated David Kappos as undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the PTO. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the nomination for July 29. Arguments in Tafas v. Doll have been scheduled for Oct. 7. The Justice Department and the other parties have asked the court to defer the proceedings until 60 days after Senate confirmation of the new director. The PTO issued major new regulations governing patent prosecutions on Aug. 21, 2007. The plaintiffs — Triantafyllos Tafas and GlaxoSmithKline — challenged their validity in a federal court suit. The district court struck down four rules, but a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit upheld three and struck one. In seeking the stay, the parties told the court, “The challenged rules at issue are not currently being enforced by the USPTO, which is enjoined from implementing them, and the Office will not implement them during the requested stay.”

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