2760 Trade Secret, Confidential, and Protective Order Material
There is no provision in the statute or the rules for withholding from the public any information that is submitted to the Office or the regulatory agency relating to an application for patent term extension. While one submitting such materials to the Office in relation to a pending application for patent term extension must generally assume that such materials will be made of record in the file and be made public, the Office is not unmindful of the difficulties this sometimes imposes. Proprietary or trade secret information should be submitted generally in accordance with the procedures set forth in MPEP § 724.02. Identification of the propriety or trade secret material should be made by page, line, and word, as necessary. The Office will not in the first instance undertake the task of determining the precise material in the application which is proprietary or trade secret information. Only the applicant is in a position to make this determination. See In re Schering-Plough Corp., 1 USPQ2d 1926, 1926 (Comm’r Pat. & Tm. 1986).
The information will not be made public as part of the patent file before a certificate of patent extension is issued. Should the Office receive a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the material, the applicant will be provided notice and an opportunity to substantiate its claim that the material is proprietary before the Office determines whether disclosure of the material is required under the FOIA. If such information was material to a determination of eligibility or any other Office responsibility under 35 U.S.C. 156, it will be made public at the time the certificate of extension is issued. Otherwise, if a suitable petition to expunge is filed before the issuance of the certificate, the trade secret or confidential information will be expunged from the file and returned to the patent term extension applicant. If a petition to expunge is not filed prior to the issuance of the certificate, all of the information will be open to public inspection.