The USPTO has published a notice entitled "Supplementary Examination Guidelines for Determining Compliance With 35 U.S.C. 112 and for Treatment of Related Issues in Patent Applications."
These supplementary guidelines are intended to assist United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) personnel in the examination of claims in patent applications for compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, which requires that claims particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter that applicant regards as his or her invention. In addition, supplemental information is provided to assist Office personnel in the examination of claims that contain functional language for compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112, especially computer-implemented invention claims. The guidelines also include information to assist Office personnel in the examination of dependent claims for compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112, fourth paragraph. The guidelines are a supplement to the current provisions in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) pertaining to 35 U.S.C. 112, and the current provisions in the MPEP pertaining to 35 U.S.C. 112 remain in effect except as where indicated in these guidelines.
These guidelines and supplemental examination information are effective February 9, 2011. These guidelines and supplemental examination information apply to all applications filed before, on or after the effective date of February 9, 2011.