Federal Circuit Grants U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office Power to Limit Patent Applications
By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Caitlyn Ross
Tafas v. Doll
Federal Circuit, March 20, 2009, No. 2008-1352
On March 20th, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a suit that challenged rules proposed by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO). Tafas, the plaintiff, contested the USPTO’s proposed rules that limited the number of continuation applications petitioners may file and the number of claims they can include within each application. Judge Prost, writing on behalf of the Federal Circuit, held that the new rules were procedural and thus “within the scope of the USPTO’s rulemaking authority.” However, the case was remanded to determine if the rules should be invalidated on other grounds. The court’s decision confirmed that USPTO does have the power to change its rules and restrict the way patent applications may be filed.
Patent Docs summarizes the case and outlines the Federal Circuit decision. Patently-O highlights and explains the proposed changes to USPTO rules 78 (Continuations), 114 (Requests for Continued Examinations), and 75 and 265 (Claims). Bnet Pharma discusses the potential effect of the decision on drug companies who rely heavily on their ability to patent chemicals. (more…)