According to reports (mainly here and here), changes to US patent rules that are, after much deliberation, due to take effect as from 1 November are to be officially announced today. The USPTO say in advance of this:
"The new rules have been modified, relative to the rules that were originally proposed early last year, in response to the extensive comments the USPTO received from the public. Under the new rules, applicants may file two new continuing applications and one request for continued examination as a matter of right. Also, under the new rules, each application may contain up to 25 claims, with no more than five of them independent claims, without any additional effort on the part of the applicant. Beyond these thresholds, however, the new rules require applicants to show why an additional continuation is necessary or to provide supplementary information relevant to the claimed invention to present additional claims.The IPKat is not going to comment further on this, since so much material is available elsewhere, notably on Patently-O. It appears to his simple feline mind, however, that the changes don't appear to be anywhere near as bad as some people were thinking. So what is all the fuss about?
Placing conditional boundaries on a previously unbounded process provides for more certainty and clarity in the patent process. The result is that application quality will be improved and piecemeal or protracted examination will be avoided, enhancing the quality and timeliness of both the examination process and issued patents. "