Actions prepared by examiners are submitted electronically and sent to their respective legal instrument examiners for entry of the type of Office action into the PALM System and for mailing.
Each examiner’s action that is counted and reported to the PALM system will be listed by application number on the Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report. The Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report should be checked by the examiner to verify that all applications worked on for the biweekly report period are properly listed.
Examples of examiner’s actions that are reported to PALM by the legal instrument examiner, but are not listed on the Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report, include examiner’s amendments, actions in reexamination proceedings, interview summaries, transfers of applications, and supplemental Office actions and miscellaneous Office letters which do not set a period for reply.
I. COUNTING OF FIRST ACTION ON THE MERITS (FAOM)
Office actions on the merits consist of rejections (final and non-final), Ex parte Quayle actions, and allowances.
The first time an examiner performs one of the above merit actions, credit is received for a First Action on the Merits (FAOM) on the production reports.
A second/subsequent FAOM usually occurs when the first action is a restriction/election action and the second action is an action on the merits. The PALM system will automatically determine if it is a FAOM. If the second action is a FAOM, the action will be listed and credited on the Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report as a Second/Subsequent FAOM.
II. COUNTING OF DISPOSALS
An examiner receives a “disposal” credit for the following actions:
- (A) Allowance;
- (B) Abandonment;
- (C) Requests for Continued Examination;
- (D) Examiner’s Answer;
- (E) International Preliminary Examination Report;
- (F) Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) disposal (only after a FAOM; see MPEP § 1101); and
- (G) Institution of an interference or derivation proceeding wherein the application would be in condition for allowance but for the interference or derivation proceeding.
These same items constitute the “disposals” for performance evaluation of examining art units and TCs. However, disposals at the Office level consist only of allowances and abandonments.
For either an allowance or an abandonment after an Examiner’s Answer or decision by a court or the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, no disposal credit is received, though these actions are indicated on the Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report.
III. CORRECTION INFORMATION
- (A) If any information is either missing from or incorrect on the Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report, the examiner should promptly notify their supervisory patent examiner (SPE) and either the legal instrument examiner or PALM troubleshooter by providing all the pertinent information necessary to make the changes to the PALM system (e.g., examining hours, application number, type of action, etc.).
- (B) The PALM troubleshooter or legal instrument examiner will report the necessary changes and corrections directly into PALM. These changes will be listed on the next Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report.
- (C) If any information is missing from the last Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report of a quarter (except at the end of a fiscal year) or is incorrect, the examiner should promptly notify the PALM troubleshooter or legal instrument examiner and his/her supervisory patent examiner (SPE). The PALM troubleshooter or legal instrument examiner will make the appropriate changes directly into the PALM system. The changes will be listed on the next Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report. However, these changes will not be reflected in the previous Quarter’s Report; the examiner’s SPE may manually make an adjustment to the records to show these changes.
- (D) In order to ensure that all PALM reports are correct at the end of the fiscal year (rating period), a special correction cycle is provided on the PALM system. If any information is missing from or is incorrect on the last Biweekly Examiner Time and Activity Report, the examiner should immediately notify the legal instrument examiner and their SPE. These changes will be reflected in the examiner’s final biweekly report for the entire fiscal year.