704.14(b) Examiner’s Obligation Following Applicant’s Reply [R-08.2017]
The examiner must consider the information submitted with the applicant’s reply and apply the information as the examiner deems appropriate. This obligation arises from the examiner’s assertion that the information is necessary to the examination in making the requirement.
Information constituting identification of areas of search must be considered and the examiner must indicate which areas were used and which areas were not used in performing a search.
The examiner must record in the appropriate sections of the “Search Notes” form the areas in which the search for prior art was made. See MPEP § 719.05. Information constituting answers to queries posed by the examiner or another Office employee must be considered, and the record must indicate that the answers were considered. This indication may be made minimally by indicating “Considered” with the Stamper tool in Adobe Acrobat and including the receipt date on the reply.
Art that is submitted in response to a 37 CFR 1.105 requirement must be considered, at least to the extent that art submitted with an Information Disclosure Statement under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98 is considered. See MPEP § 609. If the applicant provides a written list of citations for the art submitted with a reply to a 37 CFR 1.105 requirement, an examiner must indicate on that list which art has been considered and which art has not been considered, in the same manner as with an Information Disclosure Statement under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98. The examiner may annotate the list by using Adobe Acrobat to stamp the document with “All References Considered” while also providing the receipt date, application number and art unit. If the applicant provides no such list, there is no requirement for the examiner to prepare such a list or otherwise make the submitted art of record unless the examiner relies on such art in a rejection.
It is never appropriate to deny considering information that is submitted in reply to, and is within the scope of, a requirement under 37 CFR 1.105. However, information that is beyond the scope of a 37 CFR 1.105 requirement, submitted along with information responding to a requirement under 37 CFR 1.105, need not be considered unless the submission of such art conforms to the provisions of 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98, and MPEP § 609. The criteria for measuring the scope of a 37 CFR 1.105 requirement is the plain meaning of the text of the requirement. For this reason, it is essential that the scope of information required be carefully specified. If art which is beyond the scope of a 37 CFR 1.105 requirement is submitted in accordance with the provisions of 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98, and MPEP § 609, such art must be considered according to the provisions of 37 CFR 1.97 and 37 CFR 1.98.