uspto.gov
Skip over navigation

1122    Requests for Nonpublication [R-08.2012]

35 U.S.C. 122   Confidential status of applications; publication of patent applications.

*****

  • (b) PUBLICATION.—

*****

  • (2) EXCEPTIONS.—

*****

  • (B)
    • (i) If an applicant makes a request upon filing, certifying that the invention disclosed in the application has not and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing, the application shall not be published as provided in paragraph (1).

*****

37 C.F.R. 1.213   Nonpublication request.

  • (a) If the invention disclosed in an application has not been and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications eighteen months after filing, the application will not be published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) and § 1.211 provided:

    • (1) A request (nonpublication request) is submitted with the application upon filing;
    • (2) The request states in a conspicuous manner that the application is not to be published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b);
    • (3) The request contains a certification that the invention disclosed in the application has not been and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication at eighteen months after filing; and
    • (4) The request is signed in compliance with § 1.33(b).

*****

If the invention disclosed in an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) has not been and will not be the subject of a foreign or international application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications eighteen months after filing (e.g., a counterpart PCT application), applicants may request that the application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) not be published by filing a nonpublication request under 37 CFR 1.213(a). The Office will not publish an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) with a nonpublication request in compliance with the following:

  • (A) The request for nonpublication under 37 CFR 1.213(a) must be submitted with the application upon filing (this is a statutory requirement and cannot be waived);
  • (B) The request for nonpublication must state in a conspicuous manner that the application is not to be published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) (see Form PTO/SB/35 in MPEP § 1135);
  • (C) The request must contain a certification that the invention disclosed in the application has not been and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires eighteen-month publication. Before making the certification, the person who signs the certification must make an actual inquiry to determine whether the certification under 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i) and 37 CFR 1.213(a)(3) can be appropriately made (see I. REQUIREMENTS PRIOR TO FILING A NONPUBLICATION REQUEST, below); and
  • (D) The request is signed in compliance with 37 CFR 1.33(b).

If applicant filed a nonpublication request and later decides to file a counterpart foreign or international application in another country, or under a multilateral agreement, that requires eighteen-month publication, applicant must either: (1) rescind the nonpublication request before filing such foreign or international application; or (2) notify the Office of such filing no later than 45 days after the filing date of the counterpart foreign or international application. See MPEP §§ 1123 and 1124.

I.   REQUIREMENTS PRIOR TO FILING A NONPUBLICATION REQUEST

A nonpublication request is not appropriate unless the person who is signing the nonpublication request has made an actual inquiry consistent with the requirements of 37 CFR 11.18(b) to determine that:

  • (A) The application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a)has not been the subject of a foreign or international application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications at eighteen months after filing (e.g., a counterpart PCT application); and
  • (B) The applicant’s intent at the time the nonpublication request is being filed is that the application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a)will not be the subject of a foreign or international application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications at eighteen months after filing.

Only when both conditions are satisfied, can applicants file a nonpublication request under 37 CFR 1.213(a). A nonpublication request is not appropriate if applicants have already filed a counterpart foreign or international application in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications at eighteen months after filing. A nonpublication request is not proper even if the foreign or international application is abandoned before the foreign or international application is published.

A nonpublication request also is not appropriate if the applicant has not yet made a decision whether to file a counterpart application in a foreign country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications at eighteen months after filing. A certification under 37 CFR 1.213(a)(3) cannot be made based on a lack of knowledge of the applicant’s plans concerning the filing of any counterpart application that would be subject to eighteen-month publication or the applicant’s past practices or tendencies with respect to the filing of foreign counterpart applications. The fact that a particular applicant has a tendency to file counterpart applications for fewer than fifty percent of its U.S. applications is not alone an adequate basis for filing all or any of the U.S. applications with a nonpublication request. The applicant must have an affirmative intent not to file a counterpart application, and not just the absence of any intent or plan concerning the filing of any counterpart application that would be subject to eighteen-month publication. A nonpublication request is only appropriate if the applicant’s intent at the time the nonpublication request is being filed is not to file a counterpart foreign or international application that would be subject to eighteen-month publication.

II.   FILING A NONPUBLICATION REQUEST

Applicants should use the format set forth in form PTO/SB/35, Nonpublication Request under 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i), to ensure that the certification includes the proper language required by the statute and the request is stated in a conspicuous manner. Form PTO/SB/35 is available from the USPTO website (www.uspto.gov), and is reproduced in MPEP § 1135. A nonpublication request that does not include the language required by 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i) (i.e., certifying that the “invention disclosed in the application has not and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing”) will not be accepted. A request for nonpublication may not be recognized unless it is conspicuous. See 37 CFR 1.213(a)(2). Providing text as one paragraph among numerous other paragraphs with no highlighting of the request for nonpublication is not conspicuous, and thus the Office’s assignment of a publication date would be appropriate.

A nonpublication request must be filed upon the filing of the application. This is a statutory requirement and cannot be waived. For example, a nonpublication request filed with a request under 37 CFR 1.53(c)(3) to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application will not be accepted as timely filed because the nonprovisional application would be accorded the original filing date of the provisional application if the request to convert is granted. The nonpublication request must also be included with the application papers. The nonpublication request cannot be filed separately on the same date as the filing date of the application (e.g., the nonpublication request is filed in a different “Express Mail” package than the package that contains the application). If the Office mistakenly accepts an improper nonpublication request, applicants should notify the Office of Data Management – Patent Publication Branch and rescind the request immediately. See MPEP § 1730 for contact information.

When the Office recognizes the nonpublication request, the filing receipt will not include a projected publication date. If applicant includes a nonpublication request as specified by 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i) and the filing receipt reflects a projected publication date, applicant should promptly contact the Office and determine whether the nonpublication request was overlooked.

III.   INAPPROPRIATE NONPUBLICATION REQUEST

If prior to filing a U.S. application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), applicants have filed a counterpart foreign or international application in a foreign country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing, a nonpublication request would not be appropriate in the U.S. application. If applicants filed a nonpublication request in a U.S. application that claims the benefit to an earlier foreign or international application, the Office will not accept the nonpublication request and will assign a projected publication date. The applicant will be notified that the certification is inconsistent with the priority claim. The notice will provide a non-extendable time period of 30 days from the mail date of the notice for applicant to provide a satisfactory explanation as to how the certification submitted is valid in light of the priority claim. If applicants fail to provide a satisfactory explanation, the Office will publish the U.S. application.

If an applicant files a PCT application, abandons the PCT application before the International Bureau publishes the PCT application, and thereafter files a corresponding U.S. application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) with a non-publication request under 37 CFR 1.213, the nonpublication request is improper. The mere filing of the PCT application precludes the proper use of a nonpublication request, since the invention disclosed in the U.S. application was the subject of an application that was filed under an international agreement requiring publication at 18 months (the PCT application). 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i) states that an application will not be published “[i]f an applicant makes a request upon filing, certifying that the invention disclosed in the application has not and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing, . . . .” The trigger in the statute is not whether the other application will be published, but rather the trigger is the act of filing where eighteen-month publication of patent applications is required. Abandonment of the foreign application, or the application under a multilateral international agreement, prior to foreign publication at 18-months has no bearing on the propriety of requesting nonpublication of the U.S. application.

Where a foreign or PCT application is filed first, and a U.S. application is filed thereafter with an (improper) nonpublication request, the Office will not consider the U.S. application as abandoned for having made the nonpublication request. This is because the statute only provides for an application to be regarded as abandoned when the applicant fails to notify the Office within 45 days of a subsequently filed application that is directed to the same subject as the invention of the U.S. application in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires eighteen-month publication of applications. 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(iii) does not apply to the situation where the applicant has made an improper certification subsequent to the foreign filing. A petition to revive under 37 CFR 1.137(b) / (f) is inappropriate and not necessary in the above-noted situation because the U.S. application is pending (unless the application is abandoned for other reasons). If a petition to revive under 37 CFR 1.137(b) / (f) is filed, the Office will dismiss the petition as inappropriate but retain the petition fee because the Office was required to evaluate the merits of the petition before being able to determine that the petition was not appropriate.

Applicants and their representatives should make sure that the certification is proper before signing and filing it with the Office. While applicants should rescind any improper nonpublication request as soon as possible, 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(i)-(iv) does not include any provision for “correction” of an improper certification. Any applicant or applicant’s representative who makes a false statement (e.g., an improper certification) may be in violation of 37 CFR 11.18(b) . In addition, false statements by registered patent practitioners may also violate other Disciplinary Rules (see 37 CFR Part 11).

While applicant cannot undo the fact that an improper certification was made, any applicant who has made such a mistake should promptly file a rescission of the nonpublication request and note that the original certification was improper.

[top]

 

United States Patent and Trademark Office
This page is owned by Patents.
Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:32