USPTO Restriction Practice Proposal

The Patent Office is in the midst of reworking its restriction practice.  In a recently published “green paper,” the Office has proposed four “options” and requested public comment. The PTO ranked the options according to its preferences.

Option I: Maintain current restriction standards but permit applicants to pay for concurrent examination of additional inventions.

Option II: Modify the “unity of invention” standard to require any (unclaimed) “common feature” between inventions comply with the patentability requirements.  Applicants would be given the option of concurrent examination of additional inventions for a fee.

Option III: A three-tiered fee structure depending on whether multiple inventions are “substantially similar,” “related,” or “unrelated.”

Option IV: Allow a restriction only when the claimed inventions are “independent and distinct.”