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Inter Partes Reexamination Not Limited To First Application In Chain Of Applications

Aug.29.2008

In Cooper Technologies Company v. Dudas and Thomas & Betts Corporation (No. 2008-1130, August 19, 2008), the Federal Circuit affirms the interpretation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Patent Office) that utility, plant and design applications, including first filed applications, continuations, divisionals, continuations-in-part, continued prosecution applications and the national stage phase of international applications are subject to inter partes reexamination, in contrast to Appellant's contention that only the first application in a chain of applications from which priority is claimed is subject to inter partes reexamination. The Federal Circuit explains that because the Patent Office is specifically charged with administering statutory provisions relating to "the conduct of proceedings in the Office," the Federal Circuit gives Chevron deference to the Patent Office's interpretations of those provisions. The Federal Circuit concludes that the Patent Office's interpretation is reasonable and is entitled to Chevron deference.

[http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/08-1130.pdf]

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