Friday, July 10, 2015
Examples of abandonment after failure to handle drawing requirement
In this post, I'll discuss some applications that went abandoned because the Applicant didn't properly handle drawing objections or requirement that occurred at the last stage of prosecution. The takeaway I see here is that even if you disagree with the drawing requirement/objection itself, or with the PTO's handling of something, you can't just ignore it. You should instead respond as required, and if you think the Examiner is wrong, handle it via petition, as required by the rules. And yeah, fighting it always means extra effort and sometimes real money (EOT fees, petition fees). But those are the rules.
Application 11/776,390 (history available on Public PAIR) went into appeal with several drawing objections present in the last Office Action before appeal. The Board reversed the Examiner's rejection of one independent claim, and the Applicant filed an RCE to take the allowable subject matter. However, the Applicant did not address the outstanding drawing objections in this reply. The Examiner sent a Notice of Abandonment and indicated that the RCE was improper and thus "any time period running was not tolled by the filing of the improper request." The Applicant's reply "did not address the outstanding objection in the Miscellaneous Action mailed 11/15/2013, as required, and therefore is improper."
Application 11/461,132 (history available on Public PAIR) received a Notice of Allowance, but the Examiner's Notice of Allowability indicated outstanding issues with the drawings. The summary sheet of the Notice of Allowability checked the box "Corrected Drawings must be submitted, including changes required by the attached Examiner's Comment." The Detailed Action explained that formal drawings in compliance with 37 CFR 1.121(d) were required because the originally filed drawings "are not formal (i.e, uniformly thick numbers and lines, etc.)." The PTO sent a Notice of Abandonment after the Applicant paid the issue fee but did not submit new drawings.
In Application 11/461,084 (history available on Public PAIR) , the very first Examiner communication was an Ex Parte Quayle Action indicating all original claims were allowable. However, no drawings were filed with the application, and the Action also required the Applicant to submit a drawing since "the subject matter admits of illustration by a drawing." Two months after the Ex parte Quayle Action, the Examiner sent a Notice of Abandonment, indicating a failure to reply to the Ex parte Quayle Action. Two weeks later, the Applicant filed a Petition to Withdraw the Holding of Abandonment, arguing that extensions of time under 1.136 were available for an Ex parte Quayle Action, so that the application was not in fact abandoned at the two-month mark. The Petition also requested that that the period for reply to the Action be reset "in order to place the Applicant in substantially the same position as he was when this Petition was filed." Notably, the Applicant did not submit the drawings along with this Petition. The Petition Decision withdrew the holding of Abandonment, but did not reset the reply period. With no drawings submitted and the clock on the Ex parte Quayle still running, the Applicant filed a 3-month extension of time with a Response arguing that no drawings were necessary. The Examiner withdrew the drawings requirement and issued a Notice of Allowance.
In Design Application 29/356,231 (history available on Public PAIR), the Applicant filed a Preliminary Amendment about six weeks after filing to amend the drawings "to provide proper indication, in Fig. 1, of the longitudinal sectional view show in Fig. 2." Only four days after those drawings were filed, the Examiner sent a Notice of Allowance. The Notice of Allowability indicated that "corrected drawings must be submitted including changes described in the attached Examiner's Amendment/Comment." In that attachment, the Examiner indicated that the drawings were objected to because Fig. 7 cross-sectional view wasn't referenced in any other figure. "That is, there are no directional arrows with numerals at the end that shows from which the view is cut." The Applicant paid the Issue Fee but did not file drawings in response to Notice. The PTO sent a Notice of Abandonment, which the Applicant petitioned. In the Petition, the Applicant pointed out that drawings addressing the objection were in fact filed, four days before the Examiner's action. The Petition Decision upheld the abandonment, noting that the Notice of Allowance "clearly required drawings" and that the Applicant did not file a reply to this Notice as required by the statute.
The Applicant filed a Request for Reconsideration arguing that the drawings did in fact comply with the outstanding requirement, and it was irrelevant that this submission was made before the Notice. However, the Petitions Office maintained its position, explaining that "it is clear that the Examiner made a requirement for drawings after these drawings [in the Preliminary Amendment] would have become part of the official application." The Applicant then revived the application for unintentional abandonment, including the drawings with the revival petition, and the patent issued.