In January 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO” or the “Office”) published a proposed rule revising patent practice with respect to continued examination filings, patent applications with patentably-indistinct claims, and examination of claims in patent applications. Following the submission of written comments and public meetings, the Office published its final rule on Aug. 21, 2007. 72 Fed. Reg. 46716 (Aug. 21, 2007) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 1). The final rule differs in many respects from the originally proposed rule, and the final rule includes a number of significant changes to patent practice.

As discussed in detail in this two-part series, the final rule places a number of restrictions on various aspects of patent practice. This first installment examines the final rule as it relates to continued examination filings. The second installment, then, will examine the final rule as it relates to examination of claims, applications with patentably-indistinct claims, second-action final practice, and refund of excess-claim fees.