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2136    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note), except for determining eligibilty of SIRs as eligible prior art. See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102   Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent.

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless-

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  • (e) the invention was described in — (1) an application for patent, published under section 122(b), by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent or (2) a patent granted on an application for patent by another filed in the United States before the invention by the applicant for patent, except that an international application filed under the treaty defined in section 351(a) shall have the effects for the purposes of this subsection of an application filed in the United States only if the international application designated the United States and was published under Article 21(2) of such treaty in the English language.

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Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) allows the use of certain international application publications and U.S. patent application publications, and certain U.S. patents as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of their respective U.S. filing dates, including certain international filing dates. The prior art date of a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) may be the international filing date if the international filing date was on or after November 29, 2000, the international application designated the United States, and the international application was published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Article 21(2) in the English language. See MPEP § 706.02(f)(1) for examination guidelines on the application of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). References based on international applications that were filed prior to November 29, 2000 are subject to the pre-AIPA version of 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (i.e., the version in force on November 28, 2000). See MPEP § 2136.03 for additional information.

I.    STATUTORY INVENTION REGISTRATIONS (SIRs) ARE ELIGIBLE AS PRIOR ART UNDER 35 U.S.C. 102 and Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

In accordance with former 35 U.S.C. 157(c), a published SIR will be treated the same as a U.S. patent for all defensive purposes, usable as a reference as of its filing date in the same manner as a U.S. patent. A SIR is prior art under all applicable sections of 35 U.S.C. 102 including pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). See MPEP § 1111.

II.    DEFENSIVE PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT PRIOR ART AS OF THEIR FILING DATE

The Defensive Publication Program, available between April 1968 and May 1985, provided for the voluntary publication of the abstract of the technical disclosure of a pending application under certain conditions. A defensive publication is not a patent or an application publication under 35 U.S.C. 122(b); it is a publication. Therefore, it is prior art only as of its publication date. Ex parte Osmond, 191 USPQ 334 (Bd. App. 1973). See MPEP § 711.06(a) for more information on Defensive Publications.

2136.01   Status of U.S. Application as a Reference [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.    WHEN THERE IS NO COMMON ASSIGNEE OR INVENTOR, A U.S. APPLICATION MUST ISSUE AS A PATENT OR BE PUBLISHED AS A SIR OR AS AN APPLICATION PUBLICATION BEFORE IT IS AVAILABLE AS PRIOR ART UNDER Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

In addition to U.S. patents and SIRs, certain U.S. application publications and certain international application publications are also available as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of their effective U.S. filing dates (which will include certain international filing dates). See MPEP § 706.02(a).

II.    WHEN THERE IS A COMMON ASSIGNEE OR INVENTOR, A PROVISIONAL Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) REJECTION OVER AN EARLIER FILED UNPUBLISHED APPLICATION CAN BE MADE

Based on the assumption that an application will ripen into a U.S. patent (or into an application publication), it is permissible to provisionally reject a later application over an earlier filed, and unpublished, application under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) when there is a common assignee or inventor. In re Irish, 433 F.2d 1342, 167 USPQ 764 (CCPA 1970). In addition, a provisional pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection may be made if the earlier filed copending U.S. application has been published as redacted (37 CFR 1.217) and the subject matter relied upon in the rejection is not supported in the redacted publication of the patent application. Such a provisional rejection “serves to put applicant on notice at the earliest possible time of the possible prior art relationship between copending applications” and gives applicant the fullest opportunity to overcome the rejection by amendment or submission of evidence. In addition, since both applications are pending and usually have the same assignee, more options are available to applicant for overcoming the provisional rejection than if the other application were already issued. Ex parte Bartfeld, 16 USPQ2d 1714 (Bd. Pat. App. & Int. 1990) aff’d on other grounds, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991). Note that provisional rejections over pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) are only authorized when there is a common inventor or assignee, otherwise the copending application prior to publication must remain confidential. MPEP § 706.02(f)(2) and MPEP § 706.02(k) discuss the procedures to be used in provisional rejections over pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103.

For applications filed on or after November 29, 1999 or pending on or after December 10, 2004, a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) using prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is not proper if the application contains evidence that the application and the prior art reference were owned by the same person, or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person, at the time the invention was made. The changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-273, 116 Stat. 1758 (2002)) did not affect 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended on November 29, 1999. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) through § 706.02(l)(3) for information relating to rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103 and evidence of common ownership.

In addition, certain non-commonly owned references may be disqualified from being applied in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) due to the Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement Act of 2004 (CREATE Act) (Pub. L. 108-453; 118 Stat. 3596 (2004)), which was enacted on December 10, 2004 and was effective for all patents granted on or after December 10, 2004. The CREATE Act amended pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to provide that subject matter developed by another person shall be treated as owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person for purposes of determining obviousness if certain conditions are met. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C.103(c), as amended by the CREATE Act, continues to apply only to subject matter which qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g), and which is being relied upon in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103. It does not apply to or affect subject matter which is applied in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or a double patenting rejection (see 37 CFR 1.78(c) and MPEP § 804). In addition, if the subject matter qualifies as prior art under any other subsection of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 (e.g., pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b)) it will not be disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See also MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) through § 706.02(l)(3) for information relating to rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103 and evidence of joint research agreements.

2136.02   Content of the Prior Art Available Against the Claims [R-11.2013]

Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.    A 35 U.S.C. 102(e) REJECTION MAY RELY ON ANY PART OF THE PATENT OR APPLICATION PUBLICATION DISCLOSURE

Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the entire disclosure of a U.S. patent, a U.S. patent application publication, or an international application publication having an earlier effective U.S. filing date (which will include certain international filing dates) can be relied on to reject the claims. Sun Studs, Inc. v. ATA Equip. Leasing, Inc., 872 F.2d 978, 983, 10 USPQ2d 1338, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 1989). See MPEP § 706.02(a).

II.    REFERENCE MUST ITSELF CONTAIN THE SUBJECT MATTER RELIED ON IN THE REJECTION

When a U.S. patent, a U.S. patent application publication, or an international application publication is used to reject claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the disclosure relied on in the rejection must be present in the issued patent or application publication. It is the earliest effective U.S. filing date (which will include certain international filing dates) of the U.S. patent or application publication being relied on as the critical reference date and subject matter not included in the patent or application publication itself can only be used when that subject matter becomes public. Portions of the patent application which were canceled are not part of the patent or application publication and thus cannot be relied on in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over the issued patent or application publication. Ex parte Stalego, 154 USPQ 52 (Bd. App. 1966). Likewise, subject matter which is disclosed in a parent application, but not included in the child continuation-in-part (CIP) cannot be relied on in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over the issued or published CIP. In re Lund, 376 F.2d 982, 153 USPQ 625 (CCPA 1967) (The examiner made a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over an issued U.S. patent which was a continuation-in-part (CIP). The parent application of the U.S. patent reference contained an example II which was not carried over to the CIP. The court held that the subject matter embodied in the canceled example II could not be relied on as of either parent or child filing date. Thus, the use of example II subject matter to reject the claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) was improper.).

III.    THE SUPREME COURT HAS AUTHORIZED 35 U.S.C. 103 REJECTIONS BASED ON Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

U.S. patents may be used as of their filing dates to show that the claimed subject matter is anticipated or obvious. Obviousness can be shown by combining other prior art with the U.S. patent reference in a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection. Hazeltine Research v. Brenner, 382 U.S. 252, 147 USPQ 429 (1965). Similarly, certain U.S. application publications and certain international application publications may also be used as of their earliest effective U.S. filing dates (which will include certain international filing dates) to show that the claimed subject matter would have been anticipated or obvious.

See MPEP § 706.02(1)(1) through § 706.02(l)(3) for additional information on rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 and evidence of common ownership or a joint research agreement.

2136.03   Critical Reference Date [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.   FOREIGN PRIORITY DATE

  Reference’s Foreign Priority Date Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and (f) Cannot Be Used as the Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Reference Date

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is explicitly limited to certain references “filed in the United States before the invention thereof by the applicant” (emphasis added). Foreign applications’ filing dates that are claimed (via 35 U.S.C. 119(a)–(d), (f) or 35 U.S.C. 365(a)) in applications, which have been published as U.S. or WIPO application publications or patented in the U.S., may not be used as pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) dates for prior art purposes. This includes international filing dates claimed as foreign priority dates under 35 U.S.C. 365(a).Therefore, the foreign priority date of the reference under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d), (f), and 35 U.S.C. 365(a) cannot be used to antedate the application filing date. In contrast, applicant may be able to overcome the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection by proving he or she is entitled to his or her own 35 U.S.C. 119 priority date which is earlier than the reference’s U.S. filing date. In re Hilmer, 359 F.2d 859, 149 USPQ 480 (CCPA 1966) (Hilmer I) (Applicant filed an application with a right of priority to a German application. The examiner rejected the claims over a U.S. patent to Habicht based on its Swiss priority date. The U.S. filing date of Habicht was later than the application’s German priority date. The court held that the reference’s Swiss priority date could not be relied on in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection. Because the U.S. filing date of Habicht was later than the earliest effective filing date (German priority date) of the application, the rejection was reversed.). See MPEP § 201.15 for information on procedures to be followed in considering applicant's right of priority.

Note that certain international application (PCT) filings are considered to be “filings in the United States” for purposes of applying an application publication as prior art. See MPEP § 706.02(a).

II.   INTERNATIONAL (PCT) APPLICATIONS; INTERNATIONAL APPLICATION PUBLICATIONS

A.   International Application Filed On or After November 29, 2000

If the potential reference resulted from, or claimed the benefit of, an international application, the following must be determined:

  • (A) If the international application meets the following three conditions:
    • (1) an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000;
    • (2) designated the United States; and
    • (3) published under PCT Article 21(2) in English,

    the international filing date is a U.S. filing date for prior art purposes under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). If such an international application properly claims benefit to an earlier-filed U.S. or international application, or priority to an earlier-filed U.S. provisional application, apply the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of the earlier filing date, assuming all the conditions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, or 365(c) are met. In addition, the subject matter relied upon in the rejection must be disclosed in the earlier-filed application in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) /pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, in order to give that subject matter the benefit of the earlier filing date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). Note, where the earlier application is an international application, the earlier international application must satisfy the same three conditions (i.e., filed on or after November 29, 2000, designated the U.S., and had been published in English under PCT Article 21(2)) for the earlier international filing date to be a U.S. filing date for prior art purposes under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C.102(e).

  • (B) If the international application was filed on or after November 29, 2000, but did not designate the United States or was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2), do not treat the international filing date as a U.S. filing date. In this situation, do not apply the reference as of its international filing date, its date of completion of the 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) requirements, or any earlier filing date to which such an international application claims benefit or priority. The reference may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date, or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of any later U.S. filing date of an application that properly claimed the benefit of the international application (if applicable).

B.   International Application Filed Before November 29, 2000

References based on international applications that were filed prior to November 29, 2000 are subject to the pre-AIPA version of 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (i.e., the version in force on November 28, 2000) as set forth below.

Former 35 U.S.C. 102  Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent (as in force on November 28, 2000)

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless-

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  • (e) the invention was described in a patent granted on an application for patent by another filed in the United States before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or on an international application by another who has fulfilled the requirements of paragraphs (1), (2), and (4) of section 371(c) of this title before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent.

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If an international application has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, the reference should be applied under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 102 and 374 as in force on November 28, 2000 (prior to the AIPA amendments):

  • (1) For U.S. patents, apply the reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as in force on November 28, 2000 as of the earlier of the date of completion of the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) or the filing date of the later-filed U.S. application that claimed the benefit of the international application;
  • (2) For U.S. application publications and WIPO publications directly resulting from international applications under PCT Article 21(2), never apply these references under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as in force on November 28, 2000. These references may be applied as of their publication dates under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b);
  • (3) For U.S. application publications of applications that claim the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 365(c) of an international application filed prior to November 29, 2000, apply the reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as in force on November 28, 2000 as of the actual filing date of the later-filed U.S. application that claimed the benefit of the international application.

Examiners should be aware that although a publication of, or a U.S. patent issued from, an international application may not be available as prior art under former 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as in force on November 28, 2000 or under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the corresponding WIPO publication of an international application may have an earlier  pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) date.

III.   PRIORITY FROM PROVISIONAL APPLICATION UNDER 35 U.S.C. 119(e)

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) critical reference date of a U.S. patent or U.S. application publications and certain international application publications entitled to the benefit of the filing date of a provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) is the filing date of the provisional application with certain exceptions if the provisional application(s) properly supports the subject matter relied upon to make the rejection in compliance with 35 U.S.C 112(a)/ pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. See MPEP § 706.02(f)(1), examples 5 to 9. Note that international applications which (1) were filed prior to November 29, 2000, or (2) did not designate the U.S., or (3) were not published in English under PCT Article 21(2) by WIPO, may not be used to reach back (bridge) to an earlier filing date through a priority or benefit claim for prior art purposes under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

IV.   PARENT’S FILING DATE WHEN REFERENCE IS A CONTINUATION-IN-PART OF THE PARENT

  Filing Date of U.S. Parent Application Can Only Be Used as the Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Date If It Supports the Subject Matter Relied Upon in the Child

For prior art purposes, a U.S. patent or patent application publication that claims the benefit of an earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120 of a prior nonprovisional application would be accorded the earlier filing date as its prior art date under pre-AIA  35 U.S.C. 102(e), provided the earlier-filed application properly supports the subject matter relied upon in any rejection in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C.  112, first paragraph. In other words, the subject matter used in the rejection must be disclosed in the earlier-filed application in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, in order for that subject matter to be entitled to the earlier filing date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

See also MPEP § 706.02(f)(1), examples 2 and 5 to 9.

V.   DATE OF CONCEPTION OR REDUCTION TO PRACTICE

  Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Reference Date Is the Filing Date, Not Date of Inventor’s Conception or Reduction to Practice

If a reference available under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) discloses, but does not claim the subject matter of the claims being examined or an obvious variant, the reference is not prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g). Furthermore, the reference does not qualify as “prior art” under 35 U.S.C. 102 as of a date earlier than its filing date based upon any prior inventive activity that is disclosed in the U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication in the absence of evidence that the subject matter was actually reduced to practice in this country on an earlier date. See MPEP § 2138. When the cases are not in interference, the effective date of the reference as prior art is its filing date in the United States (which will include certain international filing dates), as stated in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). See MPEP § 706.02(a). The date that the prior art subject matter was conceived or reduced to practice is of no importance when pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) is not at issue. Sun Studs, Inc. v. ATA Equip. Leasing, Inc., 872 F.2d 978, 983, 10 USPQ2d 1338, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 1989) (The defendant sought to invalidate patents issued to Mason and Sohn assigned to Sun Studs. The earliest of these patents issued in June 1973. A U.S. patent to Mouat was found which issued in March 1976 and which disclosed the invention of Mason and Sohn. While the patent to Mouat issued after the Mason and Sohn patents, it was filed 7 months earlier than the earliest of the Mason and Sohn patents. Sun Studs submitted affidavits showing conception in 1969 and diligence to the constructive reduction to practice and therefore antedated the patent to Mouat. The defendant sought to show that Mouat conceived the invention in 1966. The court held that conception of the subject matter of the reference only becomes an issue when the claims of the conflicting patents cover inventions which are the same or obvious over one another. When pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) applies but not pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g), the filing date of the prior art patent is the earliest date that can be used to reject or invalidate claims.).

2136.04   Different Inventive Entity; Meaning of “By Another” [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.   IF THERE IS ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE INVENTIVE ENTITY, THE REFERENCE IS “BY ANOTHER”

“Another” means other than applicants, In re Land, 368 F.2d 866, 151 USPQ 621 (CCPA 1966), in other words, a different inventive entity. The inventive entity is different if not all inventors are the same. The fact that the application and reference have one or more inventors in common is immaterial. Ex parte DesOrmeaux, 25 USPQ2d 2040 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992) (The examiner made a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection based on an issued U.S. patent to three inventors. The rejected application was a continuation-in-part of the issued parent with an extra inventor. The Board found that the patent was “by another” and thus could be used in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103 rejection of the application.).

II.   A DIFFERENT INVENTIVE ENTITY IS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE THAT THE REFERENCE IS “BY ANOTHER”

As stated by the House and Senate reports on the bills enacting section pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as part of the 1952 Patent Act, this subsection of 102 codifies the Milburn rule of Milburn v. Davis-Bournonville, 270 U.S. 390 (1926). The Milburn rule authorized the use of a U.S. patent containing a disclosure of the invention as a reference against a later filed application as of the U.S. patent filing date. The existence of an earlier filed U.S. application containing the subject matter claimed in the application being examined indicates that applicant was not the first inventor. Therefore, a U.S. patent, a U.S. patent application publication or international application publication, by a different inventive entity, whether or not the application shares some inventors in common with the patent, is prima facie evidence that the invention was made “by another” as set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). In re Mathews, 408 F.2d 1393, 161 USPQ 276 (CCPA 1969); In re Facius, 408 F.2d 1396, 161 USPQ 294 (CCPA 1969); Ex parte DesOrmeaux, 25 USPQ2d 2040 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1992). See MPEP § 706.02(b) and § 2136.05 for discussion of methods of overcoming pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejections.

2136.05   Overcoming a Rejection Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.   A Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) REJECTION CAN BE OVERCOME BY ANTEDATING THE FILING DATE OR SHOWING THAT DISCLOSURE RELIED ON IS APPLICANT'S OWN WORK

When a prior U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or international application publication is not a statutory bar, a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection can be overcome by antedating the filing date (see MPEP § 2136.03 regarding critical reference date of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art) of the reference by submitting an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131 or by submitting an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 establishing that the relevant disclosure is applicant’s own work. In re Mathews, 408 F.2d 1393, 161 USPQ 276 (CCPA 1969). The filing date can also be antedated by applicant’s earlier foreign priority application or provisional application if 35 U.S.C. 119 is met and the foreign application or provisional application “supports” (conforms to 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, requirements) all the claims of the U.S. application. In re Gosteli,, 872 F.2d 1008, 10 USPQ2d 1614 (Fed. Cir. 1989). But a prior application which was not copending with the application at issue cannot be used to antedate a reference. In re Costello, 717 F.2d 1346, 219 USPQ 389 (Fed. Cir. 1983). A terminal disclaimer also does not overcome a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection. See, e.g., In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1415, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

See MPEP § 706.02(b) for a list of methods which can be used to overcome rejections based on pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejections. For information on the required contents of a 37 CFR 1.131 affidavit or declaration and the situations in which such affidavits and declarations are permitted see MPEP § 715. An affidavit or declaration is not appropriate if the reference describes applicant’s own work. In this case, applicant must submit an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132. See the next subsection for more information concerning the requirements of 37 CFR 1.132 affidavits and declarations.

II.   A Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) REJECTION CAN BE OVERCOME BY SHOWING THE REFERENCE IS DESCRIBING APPLICANT’S OWN WORK

“The fact that an application has named a different inventive entity than a patent does not necessarily make that patent prior art.” Applied Materials Inc. v. Gemini Research Corp., 835 F.2d 279, 15 USPQ2d 1816 (Fed. Cir. 1988). The issue turns on what the evidence of record shows as to who invented the subject matter. In re Whittle, 454 F.2d 1193, 1195, 172 USPQ 535, 537 (CCPA 1972). In fact, even if applicant’s work was publicly disclosed prior to his or her application, applicant’s own work may not be used against him or her in an application subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 unless there is a time bar under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b). In re DeBaun, 687 F.2d 459, 214 USPQ 933 (CCPA 1982) (citing In re Katz, 687 F.2d 450, 215 USPQ 14 (CCPA 1982)). Therefore, when the unclaimed subject matter of a reference is applicant’s own invention, applicant may overcome a prima facie case based on the patent, U.S. patent application publication, or international application publication, by showing that the disclosure is a description of applicant’s own previous work. Such a showing can be made by proving that the patentee, or the inventor(s) of the U.S. patent application publication or the international application publication, was associated with applicant (e.g. worked for the same company) and learned of applicant’s invention from applicant. In re Mathews, 408 F.2d 1393, 161 USPQ 276 (CCPA 1969). In the situation where one application is first filed by inventor X and then a later application is filed by X & Y, it must be proven that the joint invention was made first, was thereafter described in the sole applicant’s patent, or was thereafter described in the sole applicant’s U.S. patent application publication or international application publication, and then the joint application was filed. In re Land, 368 F.2d 866, 151 USPQ 621 (CCPA 1966).

In In re Land, separate U.S. patents to Rogers and to Land were used to reject a joint application to Rogers and Land under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103. The inventors worked for the same company (Polaroid) and in the same laboratory. All the patents flowed from the same research. In addition, the patent applications were prepared by the same attorneys, were interrelated and contained cross-references to each other. The court affirmed the rejection because (1) the inventive entities of the patents (one to Rogers and one to Land) were different from the inventive entity of the joint application (Rogers and Land) and (2) Land and Rogers brought their knowledge of their individual work with them when they made the joint invention. There was no indication that the portions of the references relied on disclosed anything they did jointly. Neither was there any showing that what they did jointly was done before the filing of the reference patent applications.

See also In re Carreira, 532 F.2d 1356, 189 USPQ 461 (CCPA 1976) (The examiner rejected claims to a joint application to Carreira, Kyrakakis, Solodar, and Labana under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and 103 in view of a U.S. patent issued to Tulagin and Carreira or a patent issued to Clark. The applicants submitted declarations under 37 CFR 1.132 by Tulagin and Clark in which each declarant stated he was “not the inventor of the use of compounds having a hydroxyl group in a position ortho to an azo linkage.” The court held that these statements were vague and inconclusive because the declarants did not disclose the use of this generic compound but rather species of this generic compound in their patents and it was the species which met the claims. The declaration that each did not invent the use of the generic compound does not establish that Tulagin and Clark did not invent the use of the species.)

MPEP § 715.01(a), § 715.01(c), and § 716.10 set forth more information pertaining to the contents and uses of affidavits and declarations under 37 CFR 1.132 for antedating references. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) for information pertaining to rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103 and the applicability of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

III.   APPLICANT NEED NOT SHOW DILIGENCE OR REDUCTION TO PRACTICE WHEN THE SUBJECT MATTER DISCLOSED IN THE REFERENCE IS APPLICANT’S OWN WORK

When the reference reflects applicant’s own work, applicant need not prove diligence or reduction to practice to establish that he or she invented the subject matter disclosed in the reference. A showing that the reference disclosure arose from applicant’s work coupled with a showing of conception by the applicant before the filing date of the reference will overcome the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection. The showing can be made by submission of an affidavit by the inventor under 37 CFR 1.132. The other patentees need not submit an affidavit disclaiming inventorship, but, if submitted, a disclaimer by all other patentees should be considered by the examiner. In re DeBaun, 687 F.2d 459, 214 USPQ 933 (CCPA 1982) (Declaration submitted by DeBaun stated that he was the inventor of subject matter disclosed in the U.S. patent reference of DeBaun and Noll. Exhibits were attached to the declaration showing conception and included drawings DeBaun had prepared and given to counsel for purposes of preparing the application which issued as the reference patent. The court held that, even though the evidence was not sufficient to antedate the prior art patent under 37 CFR 1.131, diligence and/or reduction to practice was not required to show DeBaun invented the subject matter. Declarant’s statement that he conceived the invention first was enough to overcome the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection.).

IV.   CLAIMING OF INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS OR SUBCOMBINATIONS IN A COMBINATION CLAIM OF THE REFERENCE DOES NOT ITSELF ESTABLISH THAT THE PATENTEE INVENTED THOSE ELEMENTS

The existence of combination claims in a reference is not evidence that the patentee invented the individual elements or subcombinations included if the elements and subcombinations are not separately claimed apart from the combination. In re DeBaun, 687 F.2d 459, 214 USPQ 933 (CCPA 1982) (citing In re Facius, 408 F.2d 1396, 1406, 161 USPQ 294, 301 (CCPA 1969)).

See also In re Mathews, 408 F.2d 1393, 161 USPQ 276 (CCPA 1969) (On September 15, 1961, Dewey filed an application disclosing and claiming a time delay protective device for an electric circuit. In disclosing the invention, Dewey completely described, but did not claim, a “gating means 19” invented by Mathews which was usable in the protective device. Dewey and Mathews were coworkers at General Electric Company, the assignee. Mathews filed his application on March 7, 1963, before the Dewey patent issued but almost 18 months after its filing. The Mathews application disclosed that “one illustration of a circuit embodying the present invention is shown in copending patent application S.N. 138,476-Dewey.” The examiner used Dewey to reject all the Mathews claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). In response, Mathews submitted an affidavit by Dewey under 37 CFR 1.132. In the affidavit, Dewey stated that he did not invent the gating means 19 but had learned of the gating means through Mathews and that GE attorneys had advised that the gating means be disclosed in Dewey’s application to comply with 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. The examiner argued that the only way to overcome a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection was by submitting an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131 to antedate the filing date of the reference. The court reversed the rejection, holding that the totality of the evidence on record showed that Dewey derived his knowledge from Mathews who is “the original, first and sole inventor.”).

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