Stephen Nipper of The Invent Blog® and Matt Buchanan of Promote the Progress® are reporting that the PTO is considering another administrative rule change that should be highly popular with the patent bar and inventors.
Both are reporting on a rumor, alluded to during the PTO Roundtable Discussion last week, that the PTO plans a significant increase to the fee for a Request for Continued Examination (RCE). The current fee of $810 permits applicants to request that the PTO permit another round of examination of an application that has been finally rejected by the examiner. The Invent Blog® is reporting that the fee may be increased to FOUR TIMES that amount. The goal, of course, is to discourage such filings.
Applicants who face an examiner who is reluctant to allow an application during the initial round of examination have few other options than to file an RCE. One option is to file a petition to challenge the finality of the Office Action, while another option is to file a continuing application. The only other option for the applicant is to appeal the rejection to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI).
There is no doubt that an increase in the fee to file an RCE would dramatically increase the number of petitions, continuations, and appeals filed. Every time the PTO screws around with examination rules (limiting continuations, proposing appeal brief rule changes), the number of appeals increases dramatically. If they keep this up, half of all patent applications will require an appeal to the BPAI before the patent issues.