Court countermands new Patent Office rules

4/2/2008

WASHINGTON The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has thrown out new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rules which were designed to limit the size of patent applications and reduce a growing backlog of patent requests, according to Reuters. The patent office had argued the limits were needed to reduce a large and growing backlog of applications.

Because the new rules were to be retroactive, companies like GlaxoSmithKline feared they would have to refile applications that exceeded the new limits, at a time when the patent office takes 32 months on average to either approve or reject a patent.

Judge James Cacheris wrote, “The court finds that the final rules are substantive in nature and exceed the scope of the USPTO’s rulemaking authority.”

Under the new rules, the number of claims in each patent application would have been limited to 25. The rules would have also limited follow-up filings to three. Applicants could have asked for more, but would have had to show cause. Currently, there are no limits on claims or continuations.

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