Request for Continued Examination (RCE): Patent Application Types and Strategies – Part 9

A request for continued examination (often called an RCE) is a procedure used to request additional prosecution time with the examiner.  After claims in an application have reached “final” rejection, a request for continued examination may be filed, instead of filing a continuation application, to continue prosecuting the claims without the restrictions of “final” rejection.  Prosecution then continues as before until the claims are allowed or a “final” rejection is reached again.

Requests for continued examination are common practice as an alternative to appealing a decision by a patent examiner if it is believed that more negotiation with the examiner will be productive.  If not, however, the patent examiner’s decision can be appealed to the United States Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences where a panel of patent judges will make a determination on patentability and either uphold, reverse, or modify the patent examiner’s decision.  The appeals process is not only time consuming, it can be very expensive compared with negotiating with the patent examiner.  As a result, it is often wise to make sure all options with the patent examiner have been tried before filing a request for an appeal.