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Following are the recent transaction descriptions of a patent application with US PTO with filing date Dec-27-2013 retrieved using PAIR.

01-02-2016  Document Verification
12-22-2015  **Reasons for Allowance**
12-20-2015  Date Forwarded to Examiner
12-11-2015  Response after Non-Final Action
09-19-2015  Mail Post Card
09-11-2015  Email Notification
09-11-2015  Mail Non-Final Rejection
09-08-2015  Non-Final Rejection
08-31-2015  Application ready for PDX access by participating foreign offices
07-03-2015  Email Notification
07-02-2015  PG-Pub Issue Notification
05-20-2015  Case Docketed to Examiner in GAU

02-20-2015  Case Docketed to Examiner in GAU
10-02-2014  Case Docketed to Examiner in GAU
08-05-2014  Application Dispatched from OIPE
08-05-2014  FITF set to YES - revise initial setting
12-27-2013  Patent Term Adjustment - Ready for Examination
01-10-2014  Email Notification
01-10-2014  Email Notification
01-10-2014  Change in Power of Attorney (May Include Associate POA)
01-09-2014  Sent to Classification Contractor
01-10-2014  Application Is Now Complete
01-10-2014  Filing Receipt

Does "Reasons for Allowance" imply that there is a high probability of this application to be granted in the near future. If yes, what is the time line that we are looking at ?

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Does "Reasons for Allowance" imply that there is a high probability of this application to be granted in the near future.

Yes.

37 CFR § 1.104(e) provides:

If the examiner believes that the record of the prosecution as a whole does not make clear his or her reasons for allowing a claim or claims, the examiner may set forth such reasoning. The reasons shall be incorporated into an Office action rejecting other claims of the application or patent under reexamination or be the subject of a separate communication to the applicant or patent owner.

Thus having a standalone reasons document strongly implies that no further office action will be issued, otherwise the reasons would be incorporated into that. This means that the application is generally in order for allowance.

A further gloss is provided by MPEP § 1302.14:

One of the primary purposes of 37 CFR 1.104(e) is to improve the quality and reliability of issued patents by providing a complete file history which should clearly reflect, as much as is reasonably possible, the reasons why the application was allowed.

In other words, the reasons for allowance are generally provided when the application (and not just certain claims) is allowed.

If yes, what is the time line that we are looking at?

I couldn't find a precise timeframe, so the best I could suggest is "soon".

MPEP § 1302.03 provides:

In all instances, both before and after final rejection, in which an application is placed in condition for allowance, applicant should be notified promptly of allowability of the claims by a Notice of Allowability PTOL-37.

If there are no formal matters outstanding, you would receive a notice of allowance instead.

Once you receive the notice of allowance, there are some formalities that occur before the application is issued (granted). Notably, you must pay the issue fee within 3 months of the notice of allowance. The application will then issue around 2 months from paying that fee.

Per MPEP § 1309:

When the issue fee is paid and all other requirements have been met (e.g., drawings) for issuance as a patent, the application is then electronically exported to the Final Data Capture (FDC) stage. The FDC makes any updates necessary to the electronic file and places the allowed patent application in an issue. The average time that an allowed application is in the FDC process is 5 weeks (2 weeks of processing time for assignment of issue date). The "Issue Notification" is mailed approximately 3 weeks prior to the issue date of the patent.

  • Maca is right. If you don't get a notice of allowance within two or three weeks, call the Examiner. – Riccati Jan 23 '16 at 0:39
  • @Riccati, it has been 21 days and still there is no update in transaction history ( No notice of allowance ). Is there a formal way to initiate a discussion with the examiner ? Thanks for your help. – Dinesh Jan 23 '16 at 5:21
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    I wouldn't worry too much after 21 days. The patent office is slow. If you want to call the examiner, just pick up the phone. No formalities needed. – Riccati Jan 23 '16 at 5:27
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The answer to the original question is Yes.

In our experience, the entry in the Transaction History, "Reasons for Allowance" is strongly suggestive that the Examiner's supervisor has approved the allowance. I am guessing that the actual document may have been prepared and recorded but is not in the IFR prior to the Notice of Allowance is posted, but that's just speculation and not what the question was.

Examiner's amendments are relevant here because they provide a time reference... Our experience is that the "Reasons for Allowance" entry follows an Examiner's amendment for allowance by 1 to 4 days, typically 2, but the timing depends significantly on approval by the supervisor. These rarely appear within a few hours of our acceptance of the amendment, which suggests more than the Examiner's activity is involved.

It is possible that allowance may be deferred pending quality control, but there is enough consistency here to suggest that a Notice of Allowance will usually follow. I describe this to clients as "an informal indication of allowance" (with a c&p of the top of the Transaction history and a reference to the "Reasons for Allowance" entry). With these, we expect a formal Notice of Allowance in 2 days to 4 weeks, perhaps varying depending on the cannabis examination backlog at the Denver office.

What I am now wondering is if the entry "Examiner's Amendment Communication" can also be treated as an informal indication of allowance. I am watching one of these now to see if a "Reasons for Allowance" entry in the Transaction History precedes the Notice of Allowance by a few days.

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The Transaction History can be deceiving because it describes what is happening inside the office and not the final outcome. The MPEP will provide little guidance on this information. There are two answers, maybe and probably.

Maybe, if the Examiner is a junior or assistant examiner (ie not a primary) then the allowance, reasons for allowance, updated search, etc. must be reviewed by a supervisory, who has the authority to sign off on the allowance or tell the junior Examiner issue another action (a notice of allowance is technically an "office action").

Probably, if the Examiner is a primary examiner who generally has the authority to sign off on an allowance with minimal review.

In summary, it is a good sign, but I wouldn't tell my client his application is allowed.

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