Where a claim is refused for any reason relating to the merits thereof it should be “rejected” and the ground of rejection fully and clearly stated, and the word “reject” must be used. The examiner should designate the statutory basis for any ground of rejection by express reference to a section of 35 U.S.C. in the opening sentence of each ground of rejection. Claims should not be grouped together in a common rejection unless that rejection is equally applicable to all claims in the group.
The burden is on the Office to establish any prima facie case of unpatentability (see, e.g., MPEP § 2103), thus the reasoning behind any rejection must be clearly articulated. For example, if the claim is rejected as broader than the enabling disclosure, the reason for so holding should be explained; if rejected as indefinite the examiner should point out wherein the indefiniteness resides; or if rejected as incomplete, the element or elements lacking should be specified, or the applicant be otherwise advised as to what the claim requires to render it complete.
Most of the form paragraphs for use in rejecting claims are now in MPEP Chapter 2100. See especially MPEP §§ 2106.07(a)(1), 2107.02, 2117, 2139.03, 2148, 2152.07, 2157, 2158.01, 2166, 2175, and 2187 for language to be used.
Everything of a personal nature must be avoided. Whatever may be the examiner’s view as to the utter lack of patentable merit in the disclosure of the application examined, he or she should not express in the record the opinion that the application is, or appears to be, devoid of patentable subject matter. Nor should he or she express doubts as to the allowability of allowed claims or state that every doubt has been resolved in favor of the applicant in granting him or her the claims allowed. The impression that any part of an Office action fails to reflect the professional judgment of the examiner or other employee authorizing the action should not be created by the action.
The examiner should, as a part of the first Office action on the merits, identify any claims which he or she judges, as presently recited, to be allowable and/or should suggest any way in which he or she considers that rejected claims may be amended to make them allowable.