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211    Claiming the Benefit of an Earlier Filing Date Under 35 U.S.C. 120 and 119(e) [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 120  Benefit of earlier filing date in the United States.

An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed application under this section unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this section. The Director may establish procedures, including the payment of a surcharge, to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this section.

35 U.S.C. 119  Benefit of earlier filing date; right of priority.

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  • (e)
    • (1) An application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in a provisional application filed under section 111(b), by an inventor or inventors named in the provisional application, shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the provisional application filed under section 111(b), if the application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 is filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed provisional application under this subsection unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed provisional application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this subsection. The Director may establish procedures, including the payment of a surcharge, to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this subsection during the pendency of the application.
    • (2) A provisional application filed under section 111(b) may not be relied upon in any proceeding in the Patent and Trademark Office unless the fee set forth in subparagraph (A) or (C) of section 41(a)(1) has been paid.
    • (3) If the day that is 12 months after the filing date of a provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, the period of pendency of the provisional application shall be extended to the next succeeding secular or business day.

37 C.F.R. 1.78  Claiming benefit of earlier filing date and cross-references to other applications.

  • (a) Claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application. An applicant in a nonprovisional application, other than for a design patent, or an international application designating the United States of America may claim the benefit of one or more prior-filed provisional applications under the conditions set forth in 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and this section.
    • (1) The nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America must be filed not later than twelve months after the date on which the provisional application was filed, or be entitled to claim the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) of an application that was filed not later than twelve months after the date on which the provisional application was filed. This twelve-month period is subject to 35 U.S.C. 21(b) (and § 1.7(a)).
    • (2) Each prior-filed provisional application must name the inventor or a joint inventor named in the later-filed application as the inventor or a joint inventor. In addition, each prior-filed provisional application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in § 1.53(c), and the basic filing fee set forth in § 1.16(d) must have been paid for such provisional application within the time period set forth in § 1.53(g).
    • (3) Any nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America that claims the benefit of one or more prior-filed provisional applications must contain, or be amended to contain, a reference to each such prior-filed provisional application, identifying it by the provisional application number (consisting of series code and serial number). If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application, the reference required by this paragraph must be included in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(5)).
    • (4) The reference required by paragraph (a)(3) of this section must be submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application. If the later-filed application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed provisional application. If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) in the later-filed international application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed provisional application. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, failure to timely submit the reference is considered a waiver of any benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of the prior-filed provisional application.
    • (5) If the prior-filed provisional application was filed in a language other than English and both an English-language translation of the prior-filed provisional application and a statement that the translation is accurate were not previously filed in the prior-filed provisional application, the applicant will be notified and given a period of time within which to file, in the prior-filed provisional application, the translation and the statement. If the notice is mailed in a pending nonprovisional application, a timely reply to such a notice must include the filing in the nonprovisional application of either a confirmation that the translation and statement were filed in the provisional application, or an application data sheet eliminating the reference under paragraph (a)(3) of this section to the prior-filed provisional application, or the nonprovisional application will be abandoned. The translation and statement may be filed in the provisional application, even if the provisional application has become abandoned.
    • (6) If a nonprovisional application filed on or after March 16, 2013, claims the benefit of the filing date of a provisional application filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the nonprovisional application, four months from the date of entry into the national stage as set forth in § 1.491 in an international application, sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed provisional application, or the date that a first claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, is presented in the nonprovisional application. An applicant is not required to provide such a statement if the applicant reasonably believes on the basis of information already known to the individuals designated in § 1.56(c) that the nonprovisional application does not, and did not at any time, contain a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013.
  • (b) Delayed claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application. If the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and paragraph (a)(3) of this section is presented in a nonprovisional application after the time period provided by paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application may be accepted if submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application and if the reference identifying the prior-filed application by provisional application number was unintentionally delayed. A petition to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application must be accompanied by:
    • (1) The reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and paragraph (a)(3) of this section to the prior-filed provisional application, unless previously submitted;
    • (2) The surcharge set forth in § 1.17(t); and
    • (3) A statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under paragraph (a)(4) of this section and the date the benefit claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.
  • (c) Claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed nonprovisional or international application. An applicant in a nonprovisional application (including an international application entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371) or an international application designating the United States of America may claim the benefit of one or more prior-filed copending nonprovisional applications or international applications designating the United States of America under the conditions set forth in 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) and this section.
    • (1) Each prior-filed application must name the inventor or a joint inventor named in the later-filed application as the inventor or a joint inventor. In addition, each prior-filed application must either be:
      • (i) An international application entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11 and designating the United States of America; or
      • (ii) A nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) that is entitled to a filing date as set forth in § 1.53(b) or (d) for which the basic filing fee set forth in § 1.16 has been paid within the pendency of the application.
    • (2) Except for a continued prosecution application filed under § 1.53(d), any nonprovisional application, or international application designating the United States of America, that claims the benefit of one or more prior-filed nonprovisional applications or international applications designating the United States of America must contain or be amended to contain a reference to each such prior-filed application, identifying it by application number (consisting of the series code and serial number) or international application number and international filing date. If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application, the reference required by this paragraph must be included in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(5)). The reference also must identify the relationship of the applications, namely, whether the later-filed application is a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of the prior-filed nonprovisional application or international application.
    • (3) The reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (c)(2) of this section must be submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application. If the later-filed application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) in the later-filed international application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, failure to timely submit the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (c)(2) of this section is considered a waiver of any benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to the prior-filed application. The time periods in this paragraph do not apply in a design application.
    • (4) The request for a continued prosecution application under § 1.53(d) is the specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 to the prior-filed application. The identification of an application by application number under this section is the identification of every application assigned that application number necessary for a specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 to every such application assigned that application number.
    • (5) Cross-references to other related applications may be made when appropriate (see § 1.14), but cross-references to applications for which a benefit is not claimed under title 35, United States Code, must not be included in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(5)).
    • (6) If a nonprovisional application filed on or after March 16, 2013, claims the benefit of the filing date of a nonprovisional application or an international application designating the United States of America filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application, four months from the date of entry into the national stage as set forth in § 1.491 in an international application, sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application, or the date that a first claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, is presented in the later-filed application. An applicant is not required to provide such a statement if either:
      • (i) The application claims the benefit of a nonprovisional application in which a statement under § 1.55(j), paragraph (a)(6) of this section, or this paragraph that the application contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013 has been filed; or
      • (ii) The applicant reasonably believes on the basis of information already known to the individuals designated in § 1.56(c) that the later filed application does not, and did not at any time, contain a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013.
  • (d) Delayed claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed nonprovisional application or international application. If the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (c)(2) of this section is presented after the time period provided by paragraph (c)(3) of this section, the claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed copending nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America may be accepted if the reference identifying the prior-filed application by application number or international application number and international filing date was unintentionally delayed. A petition to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed application must be accompanied by:
    • (1) The reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (c)(2) of this section to the prior-filed application, unless previously submitted;
    • (2) The surcharge set forth in § 1.17(t); and
    • (3) A statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under paragraph (c)(3) of this section and the date the benefit claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.
  • (e) Applications containing patentably indistinct claims. Where two or more applications filed by the same applicant contain patentably indistinct claims, elimination of such claims from all but one application may be required in the absence of good and sufficient reason for their retention during pendency in more than one application.
  • (f) Applications or patents under reexamination naming different inventors and containing patentably indistinct claims. If an application or a patent under reexamination and at least one other application naming different inventors are owned by the same person and contain patentably indistinct claims, and there is no statement of record indicating that the claimed inventions were commonly owned or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person on the effective filing date (as defined in § 1.109), or on the date of the invention, as applicable, of the later claimed invention, the Office may require the applicant to state whether the claimed inventions were commonly owned or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person on such date. Even if the claimed inventions were commonly owned, or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person on the effective filing date (as defined in § 1.109), or on the date of the invention, as applicable, of the later claimed invention, the patentably indistinct claims may be rejected under the doctrine of double patenting in view of such commonly owned or assigned applications or patents under reexamination.
  • (g) Time periods not extendable. The time periods set forth in this section are not extendable.

37 C.F.R. 1.78 (pre-AIA)  Claiming benefit of earlier filing date and cross-references to other applications.

  • (a)
    • (1) A nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America may claim an invention disclosed in one or more prior-filed copending nonprovisional applications or international applications designating the United States of America. In order for an application to claim the benefit of a prior-filed copending nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America, each prior-filed application must name as an inventor at least one inventor named in the later-filed application and disclose the named inventor’s invention claimed in at least one claim of the later-filed application in the manner provided by the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112. In addition, each prior-filed application must be:
      • (i) An international application entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11 and designating the United States of America; or
      • (ii) Entitled to a filing date as set forth in § 1.53(b) or § 1.53(d) and have paid therein the basic filing fee set forth in § 1.16 within the pendency of the application.
    • (2)
      • (i) Except for a continued prosecution application filed under § 1.53(d), any nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America claiming the benefit of one or more prior-filed copending nonprovisional applications or international applications designating the United States of America must contain or be amended to contain a reference to each such prior-filed application, identifying it by application number (consisting of the series code and serial number) or international application number and international filing date and indicating the relationship of the applications. Cross references to other related applications may be made when appropriate (see § 1.14).
      • (ii) This reference must be submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application. If the later-filed application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application which entered the national stage from an international application after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371, this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371 (b) or (f) in the later-filed international application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. These time periods are not extendable. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of this section, the failure to timely submit the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section is considered a waiver of any benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to such prior-filed application. The time periods in this paragraph do not apply if the later-filed application is:
        • (A) An application for a design patent;
        • (B) An application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 (a) before November 29, 2000; or
        • (C) A nonprovisional application which entered the national stage after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371 from an international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 before November 29, 2000.
      • (iii) If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application, the reference required by this paragraph must be included in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(5))
      • (iv) The request for a continued prosecution application under § 1.53(d) is the specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 to the prior-filed application. The identification of an application by application number under this section is the identification of every application assigned that application number necessary for a specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 to every such application assigned that application number.
    • (3) If the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (a)(2) of this section is presented after the time period provided by paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, the claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed copending nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America may be accepted if the reference identifying the prior-filed application by application number or international application number and international filing date was unintentionally delayed. A petition to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed application must be accompanied by:
      • (i) The reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and paragraph (a)(2) of this section to the prior-filed application, unless previously submitted;
      • (ii) The surcharge set forth in § 1.17(t); and
      • (iii) A statement that the entire delay between the date the claim was due under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.
    • (4) A nonprovisional application, other than for a design patent, or an international application designating the United States of America may claim an invention disclosed in one or more prior-filed provisional applications. In order for an application to claim the benefit of one or more prior-filed provisional applications, each prior-filed provisional application must name as an inventor at least one inventor named in the later-filed application and disclose the named inventor’s invention claimed in at least one claim of the later-filed application in the manner provided by the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112. In addition, each prior-filed provisional application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in § 1.53(c), and the basic filing fee set forth in § 1.16(d) must be paid within the time period set forth in § 1.53(g).
    • (5)
      • (i) Any nonprovisional application or international application designating the United States of America claiming the benefit of one or more prior-filed provisional applications must contain or be amended to contain a reference to each such prior-filed provisional application, identifying it by the provisional application number (consisting of series code and serial number).
      • (ii) This reference must be submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application. If the later-filed application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed provisional application. If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application which entered the national stage from an international application after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371, this reference must also be submitted within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) in the later-filed international application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed provisional application. These time periods are not extendable. Except as provided in paragraph(a)(6) of this section, the failure to timely submit the reference is considered a waiver of any benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to such prior-filed provisional application. The time periods in this paragraph do not apply if the later-filed application is
        • (A) An application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) before November 29, 2000; or
        • (B) A nonprovisional application which entered the national stage after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371 from an international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 before November 29, 2000.
      • (iii) If the later-filed application is a nonprovisional application, the reference required by this paragraph must be included in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(5)).
      • (iv) If the prior-filed provisional application was filed in a language other than English and both an English language translation of the prior-filed provisional application and a statement that the translation is accurate were not previously filed in the prior-filed provisional application, applicant will be notified and given a period of time within which to file, in the prior-filed provisional application, the translation and the statement. If the notice is mailed in a pending nonprovisional application, a timely reply to such a notice must include the filing in the nonprovisional application of either a confirmation that the translation and statement were filed in the provisional application, or an application data sheet eliminating the reference under this paragraph to the prior-filed provisional application, or the nonprovisional application will be abandoned.

        The translation and statement may be filed in the provisional application, even if the provisional application has become abandoned.

    • (6) If the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and paragraph (a)(5) of this section is presented in a nonprovisional application after the time period provided by paragraph (a)(5)(ii) of this section, the claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior filed provisional application may be accepted during the pendency of the later-filed application if the reference identifying the prior-filed application by provisional application number was unintentionally delayed. A petition to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) for the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application must be accompanied by:
      • (i) The reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and paragraph (a)(5) of this section to the prior-filed provisional application, unless previously submitted;
      • (ii) The surcharge set forth in § 1.17(t); and
      • (iii) A statement that the entire delay between the date the claim was due under paragraph (a)(5)(ii) of this section and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.

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There are several procedural requirements for a later-filed application to claim the benefit of the filing date of a prior-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c), or, provided the later-filed application is not a design application (see 35 U.S.C. 172), under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). These requirements are briefly summarized below, followed by a cross-reference to the MPEP section where the requirement is discussed in greater detail.

  • (A) The prior-filed application must be entitled to a filing date and meet additional requirements as discussed in MPEP § 211.01.
  • (B) The later-filed application must name the inventor or at least one joint inventor named in the prior-filed application for a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c) (see MPEP § 211.01).
  • (C) For a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c), the later-filed application must contain a reference to the prior-filed application (see MPEP § 211.02).
  • (D) The reference to the prior-filed application must be submitted within the time periods set forth in 37 CFR 1.78. See MPEP § 211.03. However, the Office will accept an unintentionally delayed benefit claim in certain circumstances. See MPEP § 211.04.
  • (E) In order to be entitled to the benefit of the prior-filed application, the earlier application must disclose the claimed invention of the later-filed application in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement. See MPEP § 211.04.
  • (F) If a nonprovisional application filed on or after March 16, 2013, claims the benefit of the filing date of a provisional or nonprovisional application filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within a specified time period. See 37 CFR 1.78(a)(6) and (c)(6) and MPEP § 210, subsection III. If the claims in the later-filed application are not entitled to the benefit of an earlier filing date, the examiner should:
    • (1) Notify applicant that the claims in the later-filed application are not entitled to the benefit of an earlier filing date because one or more conditions for receiving the benefit of an earlier filing date have not been satisfied (the examiner may use form paragraph 2.09 and other appropriate form paragraphs provided in the following subsections); and
    • (2) Conduct a prior art search based on the actual filing date of the application instead of the earlier filing date. The examiner may use an intervening reference in a rejection until applicant corrects the benefit claim or shows that the conditions for entitlement to the benefit of the prior application have been met.

211.01   Requirements Related to the Prior-Filed Application [R-11.2013]

I.   THE PRIOR-FILED APPLICATION MUST BE ENTITLED TO A FILING DATE

If the prior-filed application is a nonprovisional application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in 35 CFR 1.53(b) or (d), and the basic filing fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.16 must have been paid within the pendency of the application. See 37 CFR 1.78. If the prior-filed application is an international application designating the United States of America, the prior-filed application must be entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11. If the prior-filed application is a provisional application, the provisional application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(c) and the basic filing fee of the provisional application must have been paid within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.53(g) (the filing fee is paid within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.53(g) if an extension of time was filed to make a response to a notice to file missing parts requiring the filing fee timely).

Form paragraph 2.40 may be used to notify applicant that the application is not entitled to the benefit of the prior-filed application because the prior-filed application was not entitled to a filing date and/or did not include the basic filing fee.

¶ 2.40    Prior-Filed Application Not Entitled to a Filing Date or Basic Filing Fee Was Not Paid

This application claims the benefit of prior-filed application No. [1] under 120, 121, or 365(c) or under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). If the prior-filed application is an international application designating the United States of America, it must be entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11. See 37 CFR 1.78. If the prior-filed application is a nonprovisional application, the prior-filed application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(b) or 1.53(d) and include the basic filing fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.16. See 37 CFR 1.78. If the prior-filed application is a provisional application, the prior-filed application must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(c) and the basic filing fee must be paid within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(g). See 37 CFR 1.78.

This application is not entitled to the benefit of the prior-filed application because the prior-filed application [2]. Applicant is required to delete the reference to the prior-filed application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph to notify applicant that the application is not entitled to the benefit of the prior-filed application because the prior-filed application was not entitled to a filing date and/or did not include the basic filing fee.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the application number of the prior-filed application.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert “was not entitled to a filing date”; “did not include the basic filing fee”; or “was not entitled to a filing date and did not include the basic filing fee”.

II.   SAME INVENTOR OR A COMMON JOINT INVENTOR

The statute requires that applications claiming benefit of the earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120 name the inventor or at least one joint inventor named in the previously filed application or provisional application. Note that to be entitled to the benefit of any prior-filed application(s), in addition to naming the inventor or at least one common joint inventor, the invention claimed in the later-filed application must be supported in the manner provided by the 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement. See MPEP § 211.04.

III.   TRANSITION APPLICATION STATEMENT

If a nonprovisional application filed on or after March 16, 2013, claims the benefit of the filing date of a provisional or nonprovisional application filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within a specified time period. See 37 CFR 1.78(a)(6) and (c)(6) and MPEP § 210, subsection III.

IV.   ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

See MPEP § 211.01(a) for additional information and requirements specific to claiming the benefit of a provisional application.

See MPEP § 211.01(b) for additional information and requirements specific to claiming the benefit of an earlier-filed nonprovisional application.

211.01(a)   Claiming the Benefit of a Provisional Application

When a later-filed application is claiming the benefit of a prior-filed provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), the nonprovisional application must be filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed. If the day that is 12 months after the filing date of a provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, the nonprovisional application may be filed on the next succeeding business day. See 35 U.S.C. 21(b), 37 CFR 1.7(b), and MPEP § 201.04 and § 505.

In addition, each prior-filed provisional application must have the same inventor or at least one joint inventor in common with the later-filed application and must be entitled to a filing date as set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(c), and the basic filing fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.16(d) must have been paid for such provisional application within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.53(g). See MPEP § 211.01.

If benefit is being claimed to a provisional application which was filed in a language other than English, (A) an English language translation of the provisional application, and (B) a statement that the translation is accurate, are required to be filed in the provisional application. If the translation and statement were not filed in the provisional application, the applicant will be notified in the nonprovisional application and given a period of time within which to file the translation and statement in the provisional application, and a reply in the nonprovisional application confirming that the translation and statement were filed in the provisional application. In the alternative, for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, applicant may reply to the notice by filing a corrected application data sheet in compliance with 37 CFR 1.76(c) deleting the reference to the prior-filed provisional application. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, applicant has the option of filing an amendment or a supplemental application data sheet in compliance with 37 CFR 1.76(c) (pre-AIA) deleting the benefit claim. In a pending nonprovisional application, failure to timely reply to such notice will result in the abandonment of the nonprovisional application. Form paragraph 2.38 may be used to notify applicant that an English translation of the non-English language provisional application is required.

¶ 2.38    Claiming Benefit to a Non-English Language Provisional Application

This application claims benefit to provisional application No. [1], filed on [2], in a language other than English. An English translation of the non-English language provisional application and a statement that the translation is accurate must be filed in provisional application No. [3]. See 37 CFR 1.78. The [4] required by 37 CFR 1.78 is missing. Accordingly, applicant must supply 1) the missing [5] in provisional application No. [6] and 2) in the present application, a confirmation that the translation and statement were filed in the provisional application. If 1) and 2) are not filed (or if the benefit claim is not withdrawn) prior to the expiration of the time period set in this Office action, the present application will be abandoned. See 37 CFR 1.78.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph to notify applicant that an English translation of the non-English language provisional application and/or a statement that the translation is accurate is required. Do not use this form paragraph if a translation of the provisional application and a statement that the translation was accurate were filed in the nonprovisional application (the present application) before November 25, 2005.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 3, insert the application number of the non-English language provisional application.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert the filing date of the prior provisional application.
  • 4. In brackets 4 and 5, insert --English translation and a statement that the translation is accurate-- or --statement that the translation is accurate--, where appropriate.

Applicant may claim the benefit of a provisional application by claiming the benefit of an intermediate copending nonprovisional application. The later-filed application must claim the benefit of the intermediate nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c); the intermediate application must be filed not later than 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application (in which the basic filing fee was timely filed); and both the later-filed application and the intermediate application must claim the benefit of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e).

211.01(b)   Claiming the Benefit of a Nonprovisional Application

I.   COPENDENCY

When a later-filed application is claiming the benefit of a prior-filed nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c), the later-filed application must be copending with the prior application or with an intermediate nonprovisional application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior application. Copendency is defined in the clause which requires that the later-filed application must be filed before: (A) the patenting of the prior application; (B) the abandonment of the prior application; or (C) the termination of proceedings in the prior application. If the prior application issues as a patent, it is sufficient for the later-filed application to be copending with it if the later-filed application is filed on the same date, or before the date that the patent issues on the prior application. Thus, the later-filed application may be filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) while the prior application is still pending before the examiner, or is in issue, or even between the time the issue fee is paid and the patent issues. Patents usually will be published within four weeks of payment of the issue fee. Applicants are encouraged to file any continuing applications no later than the date the issue fee is paid, to avoid issuance of the prior application before the continuing application is filed.

If the prior application is abandoned, the later-filed application must be filed before the abandonment in order for it to be copending with the prior application. The term “abandoned,” refers to abandonment for failure to prosecute (MPEP § 711.02), express abandonment (MPEP § 711.01), abandonment for failure to pay the issue fee (37 CFR 1.316), and abandonment for failure to notify the Office of a foreign filing after filing a nonpublication request under 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(2)(B)(iii) (MPEP § 1124). The expression “termination of proceedings” includes the situations when an application is abandoned or when a patent has been issued, and hence this expression is the broadest of the three copendency definitions.

After a decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in which the rejection of all claims is affirmed, the proceeding is terminated when the mandate is issued by the Court. There are several other situations in which proceedings are terminated as is explained in MPEP § 711.02(c).

When proceedings in an application are terminated, the application is treated in the same manner as an abandoned application, and the term “abandoned application” may be used broadly to include such applications.

The term “continuity” is used to express the relationship of copendency of the same subject matter in two different applications naming the same inventor or at least one joint inventor in common. The later-filed application may be referred to as a continuing application when the prior application is not a provisional application. Continuing applications include those applications which are called divisions, continuations, and continuations-in-part. The statute is so worded that the prior application may disclose more than the later-filed application, or the later-filed application maydisclose more than the prior application, and in either case the later-filed application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior application as to the common subject matter disclosed in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement.

A later-filed application which is not copending with the prior application (which includes those called “substitute” applications as set forth in MPEP § 201.02) is not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior application. Therefore, prior art against the claims of the later-filed application is determined based on the filing date of the later-filed application. An applicant should not refer to such prior application(s) in an application data sheet (see 37 CFR 1.76) and is not required to refer to the prior application in the specification of the later-filed application, but is required to otherwise call the examiner’s attention to the prior application if it or its contents or prosecution is material to patentability of the later-filed application as defined in 37 CFR 1.56(b).

Use form paragraphs 2.09 and 2.11 to indicate the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) is improper because there is no copendency between the applications.

¶ 2.11    Application Must Be Copending With Parent

This application is claiming the benefit of prior-filed nonprovisional application No. [1] under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c). Copendency between the current application and the prior application is required. Since the applications are not copending, the benefit claim to the prior-filed nonprovisional application is improper. Applicant is required to delete the claim to the benefit of the prior-filed application, unless applicant can establish copendency between the applications.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by heading form paragraph 2.09.
  • 2. Do not use this form paragraph for benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to provisional applications.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the application number of the prior-filed nonprovisional application.

Use form paragraphs 2.09 and 2.11.01 to indicate that the later-filed application must be filed not later than 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application for which a benefit is sought.

¶ 2.11.01    Application Must Be Filed Within 12 Months From the Provisional Application

This application is claiming the benefit of provisional application No. [1] under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). However, this application was not filed within twelve months from the filing date of the provisional application, and there is no indication of an intermediate nonprovisional application that is directly claiming the benefit of the provisional application and filed within 12 months of the filing date of the provisional application.

Note: If the day that is 12 months after the filing date of the provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, the nonprovisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional application may be filed on the next succeeding business day.

Applicant is required to delete the claim to the benefit of the prior-filed provisional application, unless applicant can establish that this application, or an intermediate nonprovisional application, was filed within 12 months of the filing date of the provisional application.

II.   BENEFIT CLAIMS TO MULTIPLE PRIOR APPLICATIONS

Sometimes a pending application is one of a series of applications wherein the pending application is not copending with the first filed application but is copending with an intermediate application entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application. If applicant wishes that the pending application have the benefit of the filing date of the first filed application, applicant must, besides making reference to the intermediate application, also make reference to the first application. See Sticker Indus. Supply Corp. v. Blaw-Knox Co., 405 F.2d 90, 160 USPQ 177 (7th Cir. 1968) and Hovlid v. Asari, 305 F. 2d 747, 134 USPQ 162 (9th Cir. 1962). The reference to the prior applications must identify all of the prior applications and indicate the relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) between each nonprovisional application in order to establish copendency throughout the entire chain of prior applications. Appropriate references must be made in each intermediate application in the chain of prior applications. See MPEP § 211.02 for guidance regarding properly referencing prior applications.

There is no limit to the number of prior applications through which a chain of copendency may be traced to obtain the benefit of the filing date of the earliest of a chain of prior copending applications. See In re Henriksen, 399 F2.d 253, 158 USPQ 224 (CCPA 1968). But see MPEP § 2190 (prosecution laches).

A nonprovisional application that directly claims the benefit of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) must be filed within 12 months from the filing date of the provisional application. Although an application that itself directly claims the benefit of a provisional application is not required to specify the relationship to the provisional application, if the instant nonprovisional application is not filed within the 12 month period, but claims the benefit of an intermediate nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120 that was filed within 12 months from the filing date of the provisional application and claimed the benefit of the provisional application, the intermediate application must be clearly identified as claiming the benefit of the provisional application so that the Office can determine whether the intermediate nonprovisional application was filed within 12 months of the provisional application and thus, whether the claim is proper. Where the benefit of more than one provisional application is being claimed, the intermediate nonprovisional application(s) claiming the benefit of each provisional application must be indicated. See MPEP § 211.02 for guidance regarding properly referencing prior applications.

If a benefit claim to a provisional application is submitted without an indication that an intermediate application directly claims the benefit of the provisional application and the instant nonprovisional application is not filed within the 12 month period or the relationship between each nonprovisional application is not indicated, the Office will not recognize such benefit claim and will not include the benefit claim on the filing receipt. Therefore, a petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(t) will be required if the intermediate application and the relationship of each nonprovisional application are not indicated within the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78.

211.01(c)   Claiming the Benefit of a International Application Designating the United States

Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 365(c), a regular national application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) and 37 CFR 1.53(b) may claim benefit of the filing date of an international application which designates the United States without completing the requirements for entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371. See MPEP §§ 1895 and 1895.01. Thus, rather than submitting a national stage application under 35 U.S.C. 371, applicant may file a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of an international (PCT) application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). Such applications are often referred to as “bypass” applications. To claim the benefit of the filing date of an international application, the international application must designate the United States and be entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11, and the later-filed application must be filed during the pendency (e.g., prior to the abandonment) of the international application.

The ability to take such action is based on provisions of the United States patent law. 35 U.S.C. 363 provides that “An international application designating the United States shall have the effect, from its international filing date under article 11 of the treaty, of a national application for patent regularly filed in the Patent and Trademark Office.” 35 U.S.C. 371(d) indicates that failure to timely comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c) “shall be regarded as abandonment by the parties thereof....” It is therefore clear that an international application which designates the United States has the effect of a pending U.S. application from the international application filing date until its abandonment as to the United States. The first sentence of 35 U.S.C. 365(c) specifically provides that “In accordance with the conditions and requirements of section 120 of this title,... a national application shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of a prior international application designating the United States.” The condition of 35 U.S.C. 120 relating to the time of filing requires the later application to be “filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application....”

211.02   Reference to Prior Application(s) [R-11.2013]

I.   APPLICATION DATA SHEET

Both 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and 120 include the requirement that the later-filed application must contain a specific reference to the prior application.

For applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference to the prior application must be included in an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76). For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the specific reference to the prior application must be in an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76(a)) and/or in the specification (preferably appearing as the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title). If applicant is claiming the benefit of multiple prior applications, and the reference to the prior applications is in the specification, the reference may be in a continuous string of multiple sentences at the beginning of the specification. The multiple sentences must begin as the first sentence after the title, and any additional sentence(s) including a benefit claim must follow the first sentence and not be separated from the first sentence by any other sentence not making a benefit claim. If the specific reference is only contained in the application data sheet, then the benefit claim information will be included on the front page of any patent or patent application publication, but will not be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification.

For applications filed on or after September 21, 2004, a claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 for benefit of a prior-filed provisional application, nonprovisional application, or international application designating the United States that was present on the filing date of the continuation or divisional application, or the nonprovisional application claiming benefit of a prior-filed provisional application, is considered an incorporation by reference of the prior-filed application as to inadvertently omitted material, subject to the conditions and requirements of 37 CFR 1.57(a). The purpose of 37 CFR 1.57(a) is to provide a safeguard for applicants when all or a portion of the specification and/or drawing(s) is (are) inadvertently omitted from an application. See MPEP §201.06 and 201.17. However, applicants are encouraged to provide in the specification an explicit incorporation by reference statement to the prior-filed application(s) for which benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120 if applicants do not wish the incorporation by reference to be limited to inadvertently omitted material pursuant to 37 CFR 1.57(a). See 37 CFR 1.57(b). Se MPEP §§ 201.17 and 608.01(p).

When a benefit claim is submitted after the filing of an application, and the later-filed application as filed did not incorporate the prior-filed application by reference, applicant cannot add an incorporation by reference statement of the prior application. An incorporation by reference statement added after an application’s filing date is not effective because no new matter can be added to an application after its filing date (see 35 U.S.C. 132(a)).

See Dart Indus. v. Banner, 636 F.2d 684, 207 USPQ 273 (C.A.D.C. 1980). See also 37 CFR 1.57(a).

If an applicant includes a benefit claim in the application but not in the manner specified by 37 CFR 1.78 (e.g., if the claim is included in an oath or declaration or the application transmittal letter) within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78, the Office will not require a petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) to correct the claim if the information concerning the claim was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on the filing receipt. If, however, a claim is not included in an ADS (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012 in the first sentence(s) of the specification or in an ADS) and is not recognized by the Office as shown by its absence on the filing receipt, the Office will require a petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge to correct the claim. The Office may not recognize any benefit claim where, for example, there is no indication of the relationship between the nonprovisional applications, or no indication of an intermediate nonprovisional application that is directly claiming the benefit of a provisional application. See subsection II, below. Even if the Office has recognized a benefit claim by entering it into the Office’s database and including it on applicant’s filing receipt, the benefit claim is not a proper benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 unless the reference is included in an ADS or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, included in the ADS or in the first sentence(s) of the specification and all other requirements are met.

In view of this requirement for a specific reference in the later-filed application, the right to rely on a prior application may be waived by an applicant if a reference to the prior application is not included in the later-filed application. If the examiner is aware of the fact that an application is a continuing application of a prior application or the applicant fails to submit the reference to the prior application in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 (e.g., the reference was submitted in the transmittal letter but not in an application data sheet (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012 in the first sentence(s) of the specification or an application data sheet)), he or she should merely call attention to this in an Office action by using the wording of form paragraph 2.15.

¶ 2.15    Reference to Prior Application, 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 or 365(c) Benefit

This application makes reference to or appears to claim subject matter disclosed in Application No. [1], filed [2]. If applicant desires to claim the benefit of a prior-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 or 365(c), the instant application must contain, or be amended to contain, a specific reference to the prior-filed application in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet. For benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), the reference must include the relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) of the applications.

If the instant application is a utility or plant application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the specific reference must be submitted during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. If the application is a utility or plant application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, the specific reference must be submitted during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. See 37 CFR 1.78. This time period is not extendable and a failure to submit the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and/or 120, where applicable, within this time period is considered a waiver of any benefit of such prior application(s) under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 and 365(c). A benefit claim filed after the required time period may be accepted if it is accompanied by a grantable petition to accept an unintentionally delayed benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 and 365(c). The petition must be accompanied by (1) the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 or 119(e) and by 37 CFR 1.78 to the prior application (unless previously submitted), (2) a surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t), and (3) a statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under 37 CFR 1.78 and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional. The petition should be addressed to: Mail Stop Petition, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450.

If the reference to the prior application was previously submitted within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78 but was not included in the location in the application required by the rule (e.g., if the reference was submitted in an oath or declaration or the application transmittal letter), and the information concerning the benefit claim was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on the first filing receipt, the petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) are not required. Applicant is still required to submit the reference in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 by filing an ADS with the reference (or, if the application was filed before September 16, 2012, by filling either an amendment to the first sentence(s) of the specification or an ADS with the reference. See MPEP § 201.11.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this paragraph when an application does not claim the benefit of a prior-filed application, but makes a reference to, or appears to claim subject matter disclosed in, the prior-filed application.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the application number of the prior-filed application.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert the filing date of the prior-filed application.
  • 4. In a continued prosecution application (CPA) filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d) (design applications only), a specific reference in the first sentence(s) of the specification, or in an application data sheet, to the prior application is not required and may not be made. The specific reference requirement of 35 U.S.C. 120 is met by the transmittal request for the CPA which is considered to be part of the CPA. 37 CFR 1.53(d)(2)(iv) and 1.53(d)(7).

If the examiner is aware of a prior application he or she should note it in an Office action, as indicated above, but should not require the applicant to call attention to the prior application.

For notations to be placed in the file history in the case of continuing applications, see MPEP § 202 and § 1302.09.

II.   REFERENCE TO PRIOR NONPROVISIONAL APPLICATIONS

Except for benefit claims to the prior application in a continued prosecution application (CPA), benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, and 365(c) must identify the prior application by application number, or by international application number and international filing date, and indicate the relationship between the applications. See 37 CFR 1.78. The relationship between the applications is whether the instant application is a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of the prior nonprovisional application.

Where the reference to a prior nonprovisional application appears in the specification of an application as permitted for applications filed before September 16, 2012, an example of a proper benefit claim is “this application is a continuation of prior Application No. ---, filed ---.” A benefit claim that merely states that “this application claims the benefit of Application No. ---, filed ---” does not comply with 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78, since the relationship between the applications is not stated. In addition, a benefit claim that merely states that “this application is a continuing application of Application No. ---, filed ---” does not comply with 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 since the proper relationship, which includes the type of continuing (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) application, is not stated.

A request for a CPA filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d) (available only for design applications) is itself the specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 to every application assigned the same application number identified in the request. (Note: The CPA is assigned the same application number as the prior application.) In a CPA, a specific reference in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title, or in an application data sheet, to a prior application assigned the same application number is not required and may not be made. Any such reference should be deleted. No amendment in a CPA may delete the specific reference to the prior application assigned the same application number. A specific reference to an application not assigned the same application number, but relied on for benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 is required. Cross references to other related applications not assigned the same application as the CPA may be made when appropriate.

When a nonprovisional application (other than a CPA) filed on or after September 16, 2012 is entitled under 35 U.S.C. 120 to an earlier U.S. effective filing date, the reference must be included in an application data sheet. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the benefit claim must appear either in the application data sheet, or as a statement in the first sentence(s) of the specification. An example of such a statement is “This is a divisional (or continuation, or continuation-in-part, as appropriate) application of Application No. ---, filed ---.”In the case of a design application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) as a divisional, continuation or continuation-in-part of a CPA, there should be only one reference to the series of applications assigned the same application number, with the filing date cited being that of the original non-continued application. See MPEP § 1504.20 for additional information pertaining to benefit claims in design applications.

Where a nonprovisional application is claiming the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 of a prior national stage application under 35 U.S.C. 371, the appropriate relationship must be indicated on an application data sheet for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the specific reference to the prior application must be in an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76(a)) and/or in the first sentence(s) specification, Where the reference to the prior-filed national stage application appears in the specification, a suitable reference would read “This application is a continuation of U.S. Application No. 08/---, which was the National Stage of International Application No. PCT/DE95/---, filed ---.”

Any benefit claim that does not both identify a prior application by its application number and specify a relationship between the applications will not be considered to contain a specific reference to a prior application as required by 35 U.S.C. 120. Such benefit claim may not be recognized by the Office and may not be included on the filing receipt even if the claim appears in an application data sheet (for an application filed on or after September 16, 2012), or in the application data sheet or the first sentence(s) of the specification (for an application filed prior to September 16, 2012). As a result, publication of the application may not be scheduled on the basis of the prior application’s filing date. If the Office does not recognize a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 because it does not contain the required reference and the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78 for submitting the required reference has expired, applicant must submit a petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(t) in order for the Office to accept the unintentionally delayed claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 because the application will not have been scheduled for publication on the basis of the prior application’s filing date.

To specify the relationship between the applications, applicant must specify whether the application is a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of the prior application. Note that the terms are exclusive. An application cannot be, for example, both a continuation and a divisional or a continuation and a continuation-in-part of the same application. Moreover, if the benefit of more than one nonprovisional application is claimed, then the relationship between each application (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) must be specified in order to establish copendency throughout the entire chain of prior-filed applications. For example, where the reference to a prior nonprovisional application appears in the specification of an application as permitted for applications filed before September 16, 2012, a statement that “this application claims the benefit of Application Nos. C, B, and A” or “this application is a continuing application of Application Nos. C, B, and A” is improper. Applicant instead must state, for example, that “this application is a continuation of Application No. C, filed ---, which is a continuation of Application No. B, filed ---, which is a continuation of Application No. A, filed ---.

III.   REFERENCE TO PRIOR PROVISIONAL APPLICATIONS

When a nonprovisional application filed on or after September 16, 2012 is entitled to an earlier U.S. effective filing date of one or more provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), the reference must be included in an application data sheet. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, the reference to the provisional application must be in an application data sheet (37 CFR 1.76(a)) and/or in the first sentence(s) specification. Where the reference to a prior provisional application appears in the first sentence(s) of the specification a statement such as “This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/---, filed ---, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/ ---, filed ---.” should appear as the first sentence(s) of the description. In addition, where a nonprovisional application benefit claim appears in the specification of an application filed before September 16, 2012 and the application is claiming the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 of a prior application, which in turn claims the benefit of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), a suitable reference would read, “This application is a continuation of U.S. Application No. 10/---, filed ---, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/---, filed ---.”. Note that a design application cannot claim the benefit of a provisional application. See MPEP § 1504.20 for benefit information specific to design applications.

The relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) is not required and should not be specified when a prior provisional application is being claimed under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). No relationship should be specified because whenever a priority claim to a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) is made, it is implicit that the relationship is “nonprovisional application of a provisional application.” If a relationship between a prior provisional application and the nonprovisional application is submitted, it may be unclear whether the applicant wishes to claim the benefit of the filing date of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120. Thus, applicants seeking to claim the priority to a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) should not state that the application is a “continuation” of a provisional application or that the application claims 35 U.S.C. 120 benefit to a provisional application. Although 35 U.S.C. 120 does not preclude a benefit claim to a provisional application, it is not recommended that applicants claim the benefit to a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120 since such a claim could have the effect of reducing the patent term, as the term of a patent issuing from such an application may be measured from the filing date of the provisional application pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(2).

211.02(a)   Correcting or Adding a Benefit Claim After Filing

I.   CORRECTED FILING RECEIPT

If applicant receives a filing receipt with missing or incorrect benefit claim information, applicant may request a corrected filing receipt. The Office will not grant a request for a corrected filing receipt to include a benefit claim unless the proper reference to the prior application is included (i) in an ADS (for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012) or (ii) in the first sentence(s) of the specification or an ADS (for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012) within the time period required by 37 CFR 1.78 with a few exceptions. See MPEP § 211.03. If the proper reference was previously submitted in an application filed on or after September 16, 2012, the request for a corrected filing receipt should indicate that the reference was properly and timely made in the ADS. If the proper reference was previously submitted in an application filed prior to September 16, 2012, the request for a corrected filing receipt should indicate that the reference was properly and timely made and where such reference is located (i.e., the specification, an amendment to the specification, or an ADS). The Office plans to notify applicants on or with the filing receipt that a benefit claim may not have been recognized because the benefit claim was improper but applicants are advised that only the benefit claims that are listed on the filing receipt have been recognized by the Office. Therefore, applicants should carefully and promptly review their filing receipts in order to avoid the need for a petition (37 CFR 1.78) and the surcharge.

II.   ADDING BENEFIT CLAIMS

If a benefit claim is added after the time period required by 37 CFR 1.78, a petition and the surcharge are required. See MPEP § 211.05. Any petition under 37 CFR 1.78 must be accompanied by a corrected ADS in compliance with 37 CFR 1.76(c) (for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012), or by an amendment to the specification or a supplemental ADS in compliance with pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.76(c) (for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012) unless the proper reference was previously submitted. In addition to the petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and ADS or amendment, to add a benefit claim it may be necessary for applicant to file one of the following, depending on the status of the application:

  • (A) a request for continued examination (RCE) under 37 CFR 1.114, if the application is under a final rejection or has been allowed (see MPEP §706.07(h)). An amendment or ADS filed after final rejection or allowance is not entered as a matter of right and must be filed in compliance with 37 CFR 1.116 or 1.312, respectively; or
  • (B) a reissue application or a request for a certificate of correction under 37 CFR 1.323, if appropriate (see MPEP §§ 1402 and 1481), if the application has issued as a patent.

When a benefit claim is submitted after the filing of an application, the reference to the prior application cannot include an incorporation by reference statement specifying of the prior application unless an incorporation by reference statement specifying of the prior application was presented upon filing of the application. See Dart Indus. v. Banner, 636 F.2d 684, 207 USPQ 273 (C.A.D.C. 1980). An incorporation by reference statement added after an application’s filing date is not effective because no new matter can be added to an application after its filing date (see 35 U.S.C. 132(a)).

III.   DELETING BENEFIT CLAIMS

In certain circumstances, applicants may choose to delete a benefit claim. For applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, applicant may do so by filing a corrected application data sheet in compliance with 37 CFR 1.76(c) that deletes the reference to the prior-filed application. For applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, applicant may do so by amending the specification (if the benefit claim is in the specification) or by submitting a supplemental application data sheet in compliance with pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.76(c)to delete any references to prior applications.

The examiner should consider whether any new prior art may now be available if a benefit claim is deleted. If an applicant is submitting an amendment to the specification or an ADS to delete a benefit claim after final rejection or action, the amendment or ADS will be treated under 37 CFR 1.116 (see MPEP § 714.12 and § 714.13). If the amendment or ADS to delete a benefit claim is submitted after the application has been allowed, the amendment or ADS will be treated under 37 CFR 1.312 (see MPEP § 714.16). A deletion of a benefit claim will not delay the publication of the application unless the amendment or ADS is recognized by the Office within nine weeks prior to the projected publication date that was originally calculated based on the benefit claim.

A cancellation of a benefit claim to a prior application may be considered as a showing that the applicant is intentionally waiving the benefit claim to the prior application in the instant application. If the applicant later files a petition to accept an unintentionally delayed claim to add the benefit claim to the prior application in the same application from which the benefit claim was canceled, the Office may refuse to accept such benefit claim because the delay was not unintentional. The correction or entry of the data in the PALM data base can be made by technical support staff of the TC. Upon entry of the data, a new PALM bib-data sheet should be printed and placed in the file. See also MPEP § 707.05 and § 1302.09.

In a continued prosecution application (CPA) filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d), no amendment may delete the specific reference to a prior application assigned the same application number. (Note: In the CPA, the request is the specific reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 to every application assigned the same application number identified in the request. Further, in a CPA, a specific reference in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title, or in an application data sheet, to a prior application assigned the same application number is not required and should not be made.)

211.03   Time Period for Making a Claim for Benefit Under 37 CFR 1.78 [R-11.2013]

37 CFR 1.78 specifies : (A) a time period within which a benefit claim to a prior nonprovisional or provisional application must be stated or it is considered waived; and (B) provisions for the acceptance of the unintentionally delayed submission of a claim to the benefit of a prior nonprovisional or provisional application.

If the application is a utility or plant application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the benefit claim of the prior application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c) must be made during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. If the application is a nonprovisional application which entered the national stage from an international application after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371, the benefit claim must be made within the later of: (1) four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 37 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f); or (2) sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. This time period is not extendable and a failure to submit the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and/or 120, where applicable, within this time period is considered a waiver of any benefit of such prior application(s) under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 and 365(c) unless a petition to accept an unintentionally delayed benefit claim is granted. See MPEP § 211.04.

If an applicant includes a claim to the benefit of a prior application elsewhere in the application but not in the manner specified in 37 CFR 1.78(e.g., if the benefit claim is included in an oath or declaration, or the application transmittal letter, or in the first sentence(s) of the specification for an application filed on or after September 16, 2012) within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78, the Office will not require a petition and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) to correct the benefit claim if the information concerning the benefit claim contained elsewhere in the application was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on a filing receipt. This is because the application will have been scheduled for publication on the basis of such information concerning the benefit claim. Applicant must still submit the benefit claim in the manner specified in 37 CFR 1.78 (i.e., in an ADS for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, or by an amendment to the first sentence(s) of the specification or in an ADS for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012) to have a proper claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 to the benefit of a prior application. If, however, an applicant includes a benefit claim elsewhere in the application and the claim is not recognized by the Office as shown by its absence on a filing receipt (e.g., if the benefit claim is in a part of the application where benefit claims are not conventionally located, such as the body of the specification), the Office will require a petition and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) to correct the benefit claim. This is because the application will not have been scheduled for publication on the basis of the information concerning the benefit claim contained elsewhere in the application.

A petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge would not be required for correcting a timely submitted benefit claim for the following situations:

  • (A) Changing the relationship of the applications (e.g., changing from “continuation” or “divisional” to “continuation-in-part” or from “continuation-in-part” to “continuation” or “divisional”);
  • (B) Changing the filing date of a prior-filed nonprovisional or provisional application; and
  • (C) Changing a benefit claim of a prior-filed provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120 (e.g., “This application is a continuation of prior-filed provisional application No. ---”) to a benefit claim of the same provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) (e.g., “This application claims the benefit of prior-filed provisional application No. ---”) during the pendency of the later-filed application. Note, however: If the later-filed application has issued as a patent, the correction cannot be made by a certificate of correction and would not be effective in a reissue application because the term of a patent is measured from the prior application’s filing date and removing the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) would have the effect of lengthening the term of the patent.

If a benefit claim is filed after the required time period and without a petition as required by 37 CFR 1.78, the applicant should be informed that the benefit claim was not entered and that a petition needs to be filed using form paragraph 2.39.

¶ 2.39    35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121 or 365(c) Benefit Claim is Untimely

The benefit claim filed on [1] was not entered because the required reference was not timely filed within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78. If the application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the reference to the prior application must be submitted during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. If the application is a nonprovisional application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, the reference to the prior application must be made during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet. For benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), the reference must include the relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) of the applications. See 37 CFR 1.78.

If applicant desires the benefit under 35 U.S.C. [2] based upon a previously filed application, applicant must file a petition for an unintentionally delayed benefit claim under 37 CFR 1.78. The petition must be accompanied by: (1) the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 or 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 to the prior application (unless previously submitted); (2) a surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t); and (3) a statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under 37 CFR 1.78 and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional. The petition should be addressed to: Mail Stop Petition, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph only for utility or plant applications filed on or after November 29, 2000.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the amendment or paper containing the benefit claim.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert --119(e)--, --120--, --121--, or --365(c)--.
  • 4. Do not use this form paragraph if the reference to the prior application was previously submitted within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78, but not in the location of the application as required by 37 CFR 1.78 (e.g., if the reference was submitted in an oath or declaration or the application transmittal letter), and the information concerning the benefit claim was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on the first filing receipt. In this situation, the petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) are not required. Applicant is still required to submit the reference in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 by filing an amendment to the first sentence(s) of the specification (only if the application was filed before September 16, 2012) or an ADS. The reference is required in the ADS if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012. See MPEP § 201.11.

211.04   Delayed Benefit Claims [R-11.2013]

If the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 is not submitted within the required time period, a petition for an unintentionally delayed claim may be filed. The petition must be accompanied by: (A) the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 to the prior application (unless previously submitted); (B) a surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t); and (C) a statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under 37 CFR 1.78 and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional. See 37 CFR 1.78.

Likewise, if the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 is not submitted within the required time period, a petition for an unintentionally delayed claim may be filed. The petition for an unintentionally delayed benefit claim must be submitted during the pendency of the nonprovisional application. The petition must be accompanied by: (A) the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 to the prior provisional application (unless previously submitted); (B) a surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t); and (C) a statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under 37 CFR 1.78 and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional. See 37 CFR 1.78.

Petitions for an unintentionally delayed benefit claim should be forwarded to the Office of Petitions. See MPEP § 1002.02(b).

DELAYED SUBMISSION OF BENEFIT CLAIM IN INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION

A petition under 37 CFR 1.78 for accepting an unintentionally delayed benefit claim and the surcharge under 37 CFR 1.17(t) are required to add a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 and 365(c) in an abandoned international application designating the United States, even when the international application did not enter the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371. For example, when filing a “bypass” continuation application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) that claims the benefit of an international application designating the United States that could have but did not claim the benefit of an earlier U.S. application, and the benefit claim is to be added to the international application, a petition under 37 CFR 1.78 must be filed in the international application.

211.05   Sufficiency of Disclosure in Prior-Filed Application [R-11.2013]

I.   DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT

To be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of an earlier-filed application, the later-filed application must be an application for a patent for an invention which is also disclosed in the prior application (the parent or earlier-filed nonprovisional application or provisional application for which benefit is claimed); the disclosure of the invention in the prior application and in the later-filed application must be sufficient to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement. See Transco Prods., Inc. v. Performance Contracting, Inc., 38 F.3d 551, 32 USPQ2d 1077 (Fed. Cir. 1994). Accordingly, the disclosure of the prior-filed application must provide adequate support and enablement for the claimed subject matter of the later-filed application in compliance with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement.

A.   Claiming the Benefit of Provisional Applications

Under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), the written description and drawing(s) (if any) of the provisional application must adequately support and enable the subject matter claimed in the nonprovisional application that claims the benefit of the provisional application. In New Railhead Mfg., L.L.C. v. Vermeer Mfg. Co., 298 F.3d 1290, 1294, 63 USPQ2d 1843, 1846 (Fed. Cir. 2002), the court held that for a nonprovisonal application to be afforded the priority date of the provisional application, “the specification of the provisional must ‘contain a written description of the invention and the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms,’ 35 U.S.C. § 112¶1, to enable an ordinarily skilled artisan to practice the invention claimed in the nonprovisional application.”

In New Railhead, the patented drill bit was the subject of a commercial offer for sale. A provisional application was filed after the sale offer, but well within the one year grace period of 35 U.S.C. 102(b). A nonprovisional application, which issued as Patent No. 5,899,283, was filed within one year of the filing of the provisional application but more than one year after the sale offer. If the ‘283 patent was not afforded the priority date of the provisional application, the patent would be invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) since it was filed more than one year after the commercial offer for sale. The court looked at claim 1 of the ‘283 patent which recites a bit body being angled with respect to the sonde housing. The court then reviewed the provisional application and concluded that nowhere in the provisional application is the bit body expressly described as “being angled with respect to the sonde housing” as recited in claim 1 of the ‘283 patent. The court held that the disclosure of the provisional application does not adequately support the invention claimed in the ‘283 patent as to the angle limitation and therefore, the ‘283 patent is not entitled to the filing date of the provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e)(1) and the ‘283 patent is invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(b).

A claim is not required in a provisional application. However, for a claim in a later filed nonprovisional application to be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the provisional application, the written description and drawing(s) (if any) of the provisional application must adequately support and enable the subject matter of the claim in the later filed nonprovisional application. If a claim in the nonprovisional application is not adequately supported by the written description and drawing(s) (if any) of the provisional application (as in New Railhead), that claim in the nonprovisional application is not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the provisional application. If the filing date of the earlier provisional application is necessary, for example, in the case of an interference or to overcome a reference, care must be taken to ensure that the disclosure filed as the provisional application adequately provides (1) a written description of the subject matter of the claim(s) at issue in the later filed nonprovisional application, and (2) an enabling disclosure to permit one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the claimed invention in the later filed nonprovisional application without undue experimentation.

B.   Claiming the Benefit of Nonprovisional Applications

The disclosure of a continuation application must be the same as the disclosure of the prior-filed application. See MPEP § 201.07. The disclosure of a divisional application must be the same as the disclosure of the prior-filed application, or include at least that portion of the disclosure of the prior-filed application that is germane to the invention claimed in the divisional application. See MPEP § 201.06. The disclosure of a continuation or divisional application cannot include anything which would constitute new matter if inserted in the prior-filed application. A continuation-in-part application may include matter not disclosed in the prior-filed application. See MPEP § 201.08. Only the claims of the continuation-in-part application that are disclosed in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph in the prior-filed application are entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior-filed application. If there is a continuous chain of copending nonprovisional applications, each copending application must disclose the claimed invention of the later-filed application in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, in order for the later-filed application to be entitled to the benefit of the earliest filing date.

Under 35 U.S.C. 120, a claim in a U.S. application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date of an earlier filed U.S. application if the subject matter of the claim is disclosed in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement, in the earlier filed application. See, e.g., Tronzo v. Biomet, Inc., 156 F.3d 1154, 47 USPQ2d 1829 (Fed. Cir. 1998); In re Scheiber, 587 F.2d 59, 199 USPQ 782 (CCPA 1978). A claim in a subsequently filed application that relies on a combination of prior applications may not be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120 since 35 U.S.C. 120 requires that the earlier filed application contain a disclosure which complies with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, except for the best mode requirement for each claim in the subsequently filed application. Studiengesellschaft Kohle m.b.H. v. Shell Oil Co., 112 F.3d 1561, 1564, 42 USPQ2d 1674, 1677 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

A claim in the later-filed application is not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior-filed application if the disclosure of the prior-filed application does not enable one skilled in the art to “use” the claimed invention. See In re Hafner, 410 F.2d 1403, 1406, 161 USPQ 783, 786 (CCPA 1969) (“[T]o be entitled to the benefits provided by [35 U.S.C. 120], the invention disclosed in the “previously filed” application must be described therein in such a manner as to satisfy all the requirements of the first paragraph of [35 U.S.C.] 112, including that which requires the description to be sufficient to enable one skilled in the art to use the [invention].”).

Where the prior application (a nonprovisional application) is found to be fatally defective because of insufficient disclosure to support allowable claims, a later-filed application filed as a “continuation-in-part” of the first application to supply the deficiency is not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application. Hunt Co. v. Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, 177 F.2d 583, 587, 83 USPQ 277, 281 (2d Cir. 1949) and cases cited therein. Any claim in a continuation-in-part application which is directed solely to subject matter adequately disclosed under 35 U.S.C. 112 in the parent nonprovisional application is entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the parent nonprovisional application. However, if a claim in a continuation-in-part application recites a feature which was not disclosed or adequately supported by a proper disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 112 in the parent nonprovisional application, but which was first introduced or adequately supported in the continuation-in-part application, such a claim is entitled only to the filing date of the continuation-in-part application. See, e.g., In re Chu, 66 F.3d 292, 36 USPQ2d 1089 (Fed. Cir. 1995); Transco Products, Inc. v. Performance Contracting Inc., 38 F.3d 551, 32 USPQ2d 1077 (Fed. Cir. 1994); In re Van Lagenhoven, 458 F.2d 132, 136, 173 USPQ 426, 429 (CCPA 1972).

By way of further illustration, if the claims of a continuation-in-part application which are only entitled to the continuation-in-part filing date “read on” published, publicly used or sold, or patented subject matter (e.g., as in a genus-species relationship) a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102 would be proper. Cases of interest in this regard are as follows: Mendenhall v. Cedarapids Inc., 5 F.3d 1557, 28 USPQ2d 1081 (Fed. Cir. 1993); In re Lukach, 442 F.2d 967, 169 USPQ 795 (CCPA 1971); In re Hafner, 410 F.2d 1403, 161 USPQ 783 (CCPA 1969); In re Ruscetta, 255 F.2d 687, 118 USPQ 101 (CCPA 1958); In re Steenbock, 83 F.2d 912, 30 USPQ 45 (CCPA 1936); and Ex parte Hageman, 179 USPQ 747 (Bd. App. 1971).

Form paragraphs 2.09 and 2.10 should be used where the claims of the later-filed application are not adequately disclosed or enabled by the disclosure of the prior application.

¶ 2.09    Heading for Conditions for Benefit Claims Under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c)

Applicant’s claim for the benefit of a prior-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) is acknowledged. Applicant has not complied with one or more conditions for receiving the benefit of an earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. [1] as follows:

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert either or both --119(e)-- or --120--.
  • 2. One or more of form paragraphs 2.10 to 2.11.01 or 2.38 to 2.40 must follow depending upon the circumstances.

¶ 2.10    Disclosure of Prior-Filed Application Does Not Provide Support for Claimed Subject Matter

The later-filed application must be an application for a patent for an invention which is also disclosed in the prior application (the parent or earlier-filed nonprovisional application or provisional application for which benefit is claimed). The disclosure of the invention in the parent application and in the later-filed application must be sufficient to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, except for the best mode requirement. See Transco Products, Inc. v. Performance Contracting, Inc., 38 F.3d 551, 32 USPQ2d 1077 (Fed. Cir. 1994).

The disclosure of the prior-filed application, Application No. [1], fails to provide adequate support or enablement in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph for one or more claims of this application. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by heading form paragraph 2.09.
  • 2. This form paragraph may be used when there is lack of support or enablement in the prior-filed application for the claims in the application that is claiming the benefit of the prior-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) or under 35 U.S.C. 119(e). The prior-filed application can be a provisional application or a nonprovisional application.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the application number of the prior-filed application.
  • 4. In bracket 2, provide an explanation of lack of support or enablement. If only some of the claims are not entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the prior application, the examiner should include a list of those claims after the explanation (e.g., “Accordingly, claims 1-10 are not entitled to the benefit of the prior application.”).

Form paragraph 2.10.01 should be used where applicant is claiming the benefit of a prior nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) and the relationship (continuation or divisional) of the applications should be changed to continuation-in-part because the disclosure of the later-filed application contains matter not disclosed in the prior-filed nonprovisional application.

¶ 2.10.01    Continuation or Divisional Application Contains New Matter Relative to the Prior-Filed Application

Applicant states that this application is a continuation or divisional application of the prior-filed application. A continuation or divisional application cannot include new matter. Applicant is required to change the relationship (continuation or divisional application) to continuation-in-part because this application contains the following matter not disclosed in the prior-filed application: [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used when an application claims the benefit of a prior-filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120,121, or 365(c) , contains new matter, and purports to be a “continuation,” “division,” or “divisional application” of the prior-filed application. Do not use this form paragraph if the applicant is claiming the benefit of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) .
  • 2. In bracket 1, provide an example of the matter not disclosed in the prior-filed application.

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