However, no analysis or reasoning is provided for dependent claims 2-5 in the office action. Is this even permissible according the the examination guidelines in the MPEP? I find it hard to believe that the examiner can reject the independent claims and disregard the dependent claims.
It is frowned upon, but to my knowledge there is nothing in the MPEP or CFR stating that an examiner must provide a detailed, element by element analysis of each dependent claim in an Office Action. Rather, the MPEP uses more nebulous language indicating that "piecemeal" examination should be avoided, and that the basis for the rejection of each claim should be clearly stated. While it would appear that such language supports a position that each claim should be individually addressed, what it has been interpreted to mean is that the ground upon which each claim is rejected must be clearly stated. As a result, the statement of rejection (e.g., Claims 1-5 are rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) as anticipated by reference X) would be considered sufficient.
Although annoying, my experience has been that if an examiner has made a significant error with respect to the application of a particular reference to a dependent claim, that error is easy to identify and point out in a response. Moreover, it is probably that the examiner will have to remove the rejection of the dependent claim, possibly to apply another reference. In that instance, any subsequent office action applying a new reference to reject the dependent claim not properly be made final.