806.04 Genus and/or Species Inventions [R-08.2012]

Where an application includes claims directed to different embodiments or species that could fall within the scope of a generic claim, restriction between the species may be proper if the species are independent or distinct. However, 37 CFR 1.141 provides that an allowable generic claim may link a reasonable number of species embraced thereby. The practice is set forth in 37 CFR 1.146.

37 CFR 1.146  Election of species.

In the first action on an application containing a generic claim to a generic invention (genus) and claims to more than one patentably distinct species embraced thereby, the examiner may require the applicant in the reply to that action to elect a species of his or her invention to which his or her claim will be restricted if no claim to the genus is found to be allowable. However, if such application contains claims directed to more than a reasonable number of species, the examiner may require restriction of the claims to not more than a reasonable number of species before taking further action in the application.

See MPEP § 806.04(d) for the definition of a generic claim, and MPEP § 806.04(e) for a discussion of claims that include one or more species.