The Patent Office should implement a negative count for applications under RCE that remain too long at the Patent Office without a response. The incentive should be increased according to the length of time spent on the Examiner’s docket. Responses to RCEs should normally be provided within three months. At four months without a response, a negative 0.1 count per case should be attributed to the Examiner. At six months the incentive should be minus 0.2 counts. At nine months the incentive should be minus 1 count. At 12 or more months the incentive should be minus 2 counts.
The Patent Office has adjusted the count system with respect to RCEs to encourage compact prosecution. At the same time, however, the Patent Office allows patent applications to remain on an Examiner’s RCE docket indefinitely. Examiners should expect to cooperate with the Patent Office’s goals in making timely responses to RCEs. They have control over their RCE docket and can choose to manage it in a reasonable and timely fashion.