USPTO Changes RCE Examination Procedure

October 22, 2009 – Firm News

Under the new directive, RCE's will be processed like Divisional and Continuation applications. RCEs will be given priority over regular applications. However, there is no longer a 2 month deadline, so the RCE will no longer be acted on immediately. Our experience is that the typical delay from filing a continuation and divisional applications to first office action is 6 to 9 months, so an Amendment filed with an RCE will probably not receive an action for a comparable time period. The Patent Office Examiner Union (POPA) has voted to approve the PTO's proposed changes to the examiner count system. Under the revised counting system the examiner will receive extra credit for first actions (1.25 counts) and reduced credit for RCEs (0.75 counts for the first RCE and 0.5 counts for the 2nd and subsequent RCEs). Previously RCEs and first actions both were one count. The revised system will also reduce the number of cases an examiner must dispose of each quarter to meet his production goal.