Major PTO Rules decision handed down today

Today’s big news in patent-land is that the Federal Circuit handed down a ruling in the litigation seeking to block the PTO’s recent rulemaking concerning limiting certain types of practice.  As always, Patently-O has the scoop.  From Patent Law Blog (Patently-O): Tafas v. Doll: Continuation Limits Invalid; Limits on Claims and RCEs are OK:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated-in-part – finding that some of the limitations on continuations improperly conflict with 35 U.S.C. § 120, but that the remaining limits [including limits on filing RCEs] are “within the scope of the USPTO’s rulemaking authority.”

The final outcome, of course, is still unclear, as the Obama Administration may choose to change strategy altogether.

Quick comment: I don’t fully understand an outcome where practitioners wouldn’t be able to file unlimited RCEs, but would be able to file unlimited continuations.  My understanding is that back in the day, there was no such thing as an RCE, and if further examination was required, an applicant would file a continuation.  RCEs were meant to eliminate some of this hassle.  So, if the results of this ruling were upheld, we’d just be going back to the old hassle that RCEs were meant to avoid?  That doesn’t seem logical.

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