Where, after an appeal has been filed and before decision by the Board, an applicant withdraws the appeal after the period for reply to the final rejection has expired, the application is to be considered abandoned as of the date on which the appeal was withdrawn unless there are allowed claims in the case.
Where a letter abandoning the application is filed in accordance with 37 CFR 1.138, the effective date of abandonment is the date of recognition of the letter by an appropriate official of the Office or a different date, if so specified in the letter itself. See MPEP § 711.01.
If a brief has been filed within the time permitted by 37 CFR 41.37 (or any extension thereof) and an answer mailed and appellant withdraws the appeal prior to transfer of jurisdiction to the Board under 37 CFR 41.35(a), the application is returned to the examiner. If appellant withdraws the appeal after jurisdiction has been transferred to the Board, dismissal of the appeal will be handled by the Board.
Prior to a decision by the Board, if an applicant wishes to withdraw an application from appeal and to reopen prosecution of the application, applicant can file a request for continued examination (RCE) under 37 CFR 1.114, accompanied by a submission (i.e., a reply responsive within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.111 to the last outstanding Office action) and the RCE fee set forth under 37 CFR 1.17(e). Note that the RCE practice under 37 CFR 1.114 does not apply to utility or plant patent applications filed before June 8, 1995, design applications, or reexamination proceedings. See 37 CFR 1.114(d) and MPEP § 706.07(h), subsection X., for more details. An appeal brief or reply brief (or related papers) is not a submission under 37 CFR 1.114, unless the transmittal letter of the RCE contains a statement that incorporates by reference the arguments in a previously filed appeal brief or reply brief. See MPEP § 706.07(h), subsection II. The filing of an RCE will be treated as a withdrawal of the appeal by the applicant, regardless of whether the RCE includes the appropriate fee or a submission. Therefore, when an RCE is filed without the appropriate fee or a submission in an application that has no allowed claims, the application will be considered abandoned. To avoid abandonment, the RCE should be filed in compliance with 37 CFR 1.114. See MPEP § 706.07(h), subsections I-II.
Once appellant has filed a notice of appeal, appellant also may request that prosecution be reopened for the following situations:
- (A) In response to a new ground of rejection made in an examiner’s answer, appellant may file a reply in compliance with 37 CFR 1.111 that addresses the new ground of rejection within two months from the mailing of the examiner’s answer (see MPEP § 1207.03).
- (B) In response to a substitute examiner’s answer that is written in response to a remand by the Board for further consideration of a rejection under 37 CFR 41.50(a), appellant may file a reply in compliance with 37 CFR 1.111 that addresses the rejection in the substitute answer within two months from the mailing of the substitute answer (see MPEP § 1207.05).
To avoid the rendering of decisions by the Board in applications which have already been refiled as continuations, applicants should promptly inform the Clerk of the Board in writing as soon as they have positively decided to refile or to abandon an application containing an appeal awaiting a decision. Applicants also should advise the Board when an RCE is filed in an application containing an appeal awaiting decision. Failure to exercise appropriate diligence in this matter may result in the Board refusing an otherwise proper request to vacate its decision.
Upon the withdrawal of an appeal, an application having no allowed claims is abandoned, and a notice of abandonment should be mailed. Claims which are allowable except for their dependency from rejected claims will be treated as if they were rejected. The following examples illustrate the appropriate approach to be taken by the examiner in various situations:
- (A) Claim 1 is allowed; claims 2 and 3 are rejected. The examiner should cancel claims 2 and 3 and issue the application with claim 1 only.
- (B) Claims 1 – 3 are rejected. The examiner should hold the application abandoned.
- (C) Claim 1 is rejected and claim 2 is objected to as being allowable except for its dependency from claim 1. The examiner should hold the application abandoned as there is no remaining time period to redraft claim 2 in independent form.
- (D) Claim 1 is rejected and claim 2 is objected to as being allowable except for its dependency from claim 1; independent claim 3 is allowed. The examiner should cancel claims 1 and 2 and issue the application or ex parte reexamination certificate with claim 3 only.
In an ex parte reexamination proceeding, an ex parte reexamination certificate should be issued under 37 CFR 1.570.