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The notable basic features of an inter partes (between parties) reexamination (source: MPEP 2609) are:

  1. a third party can request an inter partes reexamination any time during the patent’s enforceability period (for original applications filed on or after November 29, 1999);
  2. prior art considered during reexamination is limited to prior patents or printed publications (35 USC 102 & 103);
  3. a new substantial patentability question must exist for reexamination to be ordered;
  4. if ordered, the reexamination proceeding is essentially inter partes in nature;
  5. a decision to grant/deny the request must be made no later than three months from its filing date, and the remainder of the proceedings must occur with “special dispatch”;
  6. if ordered, a reexamination proceeding normally concludes with issuance of an inter partes reexamination certificate;
  7. a patent claim’s scope cannot be enlarged by amendment;
  8. re-examination files are open to the public [but see #9 below]; and
  9. a reexamination file is scanned to create an electronic copy accessible to the public (but the paper file is not available to the public).

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