Request for Continued Examination (RCE)

Lia Kopin-Green
October 25, 2022

What is a Request for Continued Examination (RCE)?

A Request for Continued Examination, or RCE, is a request sent to a patent examiner following a Final Office Action. The document asks the patent examiner to review a patent application after necessary changes have been made to the original application. It is considered to be one of the final steps in the patent application process.

Key Takeaways

  • A Request for Continued Examination, or RCE, asks a patent examiner to review a patent application after changes have been made to the original application.
  • RCEs are typically submitted following a Final Office Action.
  • A fee is required in order to file a RCE. The amount due depends on the number of RCEs previously filed and the size of the business filing the RCE.

How Does a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) Work?

The concept behind Requests for Continued Examination (RCE) can be tricky to understand. First of all, let’s review the patent application process. After you have filled out the patent application, the document is then submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent examiner, a professional licensed by the USPTO, will then review your patent application and compare it to prior art. Once the examiner’s analysis is complete, he or she will decide whether to approve or reject the application. Rejections, which are a common occurrence in patent law, are served in the form of an Office Action.

There are two main types of Office Actions: non-final office actions and final office actions. Generally, you will receive a non-final office action first. This document will stipulate specific issues with your patent applications or point out cases of prior art. You should address the examiner’s issues with your application in a formal response submitted within 6 months of receiving the office action.

Final office actions, on the other hand, are issued when the patent examiner rejects your response to a non-final office action. Rejections in this office action may be similar to those in the initial non-final office action, or they may be entirely new rejections. Contrary to their title, final office actions are not totally final. You can respond to a non-final office action with a Request for Continued Examination (RCE). This document keeps your case open and allows for the examination process to continue. It also allows you to submit further claim amendments and arguments. RCEs are particularly suitable if you choose to include new claim amendments that require a patent examiner to perform a more extensive prior art search.

Bottom Line

Have you been faced with a non-final office action? Filing a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) might be the right choice for you. Explore your options and learn more about RCEs by consulting with one of our professional intellectual property attorneys today. Our top-tier lawyers are here to help you navigate through every step of the patent application process.

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