Section 1207.04 of the MPEP states that Examiners can reopen prosecution after the Applicant has filed an Appeal Brief. I do not see any basis in the patent statutes or rules for this section of the MPEP. Nor is there any justifiably reason to allow this. Examiners are allowed to place new rejections in the Examiner's Answer, which the Applicant can then choose to respond to by reopening prosecution or proceeding to the PTAB. Allowing the Examiner to reopen prosecution can perpetually prevent the Applicant from reaching the PTAB. There is no basis for such action.
Idea No. 182