What is a “Restriction Requirement”?

You may have seen that the first office action in a patent application is a restriction requirement or an election of species. In a restriction requirement, the patent examiner insists that the application contains claims to two or more inventions. Since a U.S. patent can only be issued for a single invention, the applicant is now forced to elect one of the inventions for prosecution. Let’s say the application has claims to an apparatus and claims to a process, and the Patent Office considers these two different inventions. Now we have to make an election. Should the apparatus claims be examined or the method claims? If you have more questions, we suggest consulting with an experienced intellectual property attorney.