Does the PTO know how to craft rules to effect its intent? Read on....
I have confirmed this with the PTO Legal Hotline (571)272-7704.
In a nutshell, in a family where an initial application has not used an RCE, then any continuations (in parallel) can EACH use an RCE without petition. This holds only as long as an RCE is NOT used in the initial application.
Of course, there is always the 5/25 rule that you are up against in parallel cases. But this may be a useful strategy for certain cases. It would also be useful in those families already pending where you have many continuations pending and no RCE has been filed in the initial application.
Comments are appreciated.