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706    Rejection of Claims [R-11.2013]

After the application has been read and the claimed invention understood, a prior art search for the claimed invention is made. With the results of the prior art search, including any references provided by the applicant, the patent application should be reviewed and analyzed in conjunction with the state of the prior art to determine whether the claims define a useful, novel, nonobvious, and enabled invention that has been clearly described in the specification. The goal of examination is to clearly articulate any rejection early in the prosecution process so that the applicant has the opportunity to provide evidence of patentability and otherwise reply completely at the earliest opportunity. The examiner then reviews all the evidence, including arguments and evidence responsive to any rejection, before issuing the next Office action. Where the examiner determines that information reasonably necessary for the examination should be required from the applicant under 37 CFR 1.105, such a requirement should generally be made either prior to or with the first Office action on the merits and should follow the procedures in MPEP § 704.10et seq.

Although this part of the Manual explains the procedure in rejecting claims, the examiner should never overlook the importance of his or her role in allowing claims which properly define the invention.

37 C.F.R. 1.104   Nature of examination.

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  • (c) Rejection of claims.
    • (1) If the invention is not considered patentable, or not considered patentable as claimed, the claims, or those considered unpatentable will be rejected.
    • (2) In rejecting claims for want of novelty or for obviousness, the examiner must cite the best references at his or her command. When a reference is complex or shows or describes inventions other than that claimed by the applicant, the particular part relied on must be designated as nearly as practicable. The pertinence of each reference, if not apparent, must be clearly explained and each rejected claim specified.
    • (3) In rejecting claims the examiner may rely upon admissions by the applicant, or the patent owner in a reexamination proceeding, as to any matter affecting patentability and, insofar as rejections in applications are concerned, may also rely upon facts within his or her knowledge pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
    • (4)
      • (i) Subject matter which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) and a claimed invention will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) if the applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
      • (ii) Subject matter which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) and a claimed invention will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) on35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) the basis of a joint research agreement under 35 U.S.C. 102(c) if:
        • (A) The applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter was developed and the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of one or more parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 100(h) and § 1.9(e), that was in effect on or before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, and the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
        • (B) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (5)
      • (i) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application filed on or after November 29, 1999, or any patent issuing thereon, in an application filed before November 29, 1999, but pending on December 10, 2004, or any patent issuing thereon, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if the applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention, at the time the claimed invention was made, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.

        (ii) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application pending on or after December 10, 2004, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, on the basis of a joint research agreement under 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if:

        • (A) The applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention were made by or on behalf of the parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 100(h) and § 1.9(e), which was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and that the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
        • (B) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
      • (6) Patents issued prior to December 10, 2004, from applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, are subject to 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect on November 28, 1999.

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I.   UNIFORM APPLICATION OF THE PATENTABILITY STANDARD

The standards of patentability applied in the examination of claims must be the same throughout the Office. In every art, whether it be considered “complex,” “newly developed,” “crowded,” or “competitive,” all of the requirements for patentability (e.g., patent eligible, useful, novel, nonobvious, enabled, and clearly described as provided in 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103 and 112) must be met before a claim is allowed. The mere fact that a claim recites in detail all of the features of an invention (i.e., is a “picture” claim) is never, in itself, justification for the allowance of such a claim.

An application should not be allowed, unless and until issues pertinent to patentability have been raised and resolved in the course of examination and prosecution, since otherwise the resultant patent would not justify the statutory presumption of validity (35 U.S.C. 282), nor would it “strictly adhere” to the requirements laid down by Congress in the 1952 Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The standard to be applied in all cases is the “preponderance of the evidence” test. In other words, an examiner should reject a claim if, in view of the prior art and evidence of record, it is more likely than not that the claim is unpatentable.

II.   DEFECTS IN FORM OR OMISSION OF A LIMITATION; CLAIMS OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE

When an application discloses patentable subject matter and it is apparent from the claims and the applicant's arguments that the claims are intended to be directed to such patentable subject matter, but the claims in their present form cannot be allowed because of defects in form or omission of a limitation, the examiner should not stop with a bare objection or rejection of the claims. The examiner’s action should be constructive in nature and when possible should offer a definite suggestion for correction.

III.   PATENTABLE SUBJECT MATTER DISCLOSED BUT NOT CLAIMED

If the examiner is satisfied after the search has been completed that patentable subject matter has been disclosed and the record indicates that the applicant intends to claim such subject matter, he or she may note in the Office action that certain aspects or features of the patentable invention have not been claimed and that if properly claimed such claims may be given favorable consideration.

IV.   RECONSIDERATION OF CLAIMS AFTER REPLY BY APPLICANT

37 C.F.R. 1.112   Reconsideration before final action.

After reply by applicant or patent owner (§ 1.111 or § 1.945) to a non-final action and any comments by an inter partes reexamination requester (§ 1.947), the application or the patent under reexamination will be reconsidered and again examined. The applicant, or in the case of a reexamination proceeding the patent owner and any third party requester, will be notified if claims are rejected, objections or requirements made, or decisions favorable to patentability are made, in the same manner as after the first examination (§ 1.104). Applicant or patent owner may reply to such Office action in the same manner provided in § 1.111 or § 1.945, with or without amendment, unless such Office action indicates that it is made final (§ 1.113) or an appeal (§ 41.31 of this title) has been taken (§ 1.116), or in an inter partes reexamination, that it is an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949) or a right of appeal notice (§ 1.953).

37 CFR 1.112 provides for the reconsideration and continued examination of an application after reply by the applicant, and for the reconsideration and continued examination of a reexamination proceeding after a response by the patent owner. If claims are rejected, or objections or requirements are made, the applicant or patent owner will be notified in the same manner as notification was provided after the first examination. Applicant or patent owner may reply to such Office action (with or without amendment) in the same manner provided in 37 CFR 1.111, or 37 CFR 1.945 for an inter partes reexamination, unless such Office action indicates that it is made final (37 CFR 1.113), or an appeal under 37 CFR 41.31 has been taken (37 CFR 1.116), or such Office action indicates in an inter partes reexamination that it is an action closing prosecution (37 CFR 1.949) or a right of appeal notice (37 CFR 1.953). Once an appeal has been taken in an application or in an ex parte reexamination proceeding, any amendment (filed prior to an appeal brief) is subject to the provisions of 37 CFR 1.116(b) and (c), even if the appeal is in reply to a non-final Office action. See 37 CFR 41.33(b) for amendments filed with or after the filing of an appeal brief.

V.   REJECTIONS IN STATUTORY INVENTION REGISTRATIONS

See MPEP Chapter 1100 for rejection of claims in an application for a Statutory Invention Registration.

706.01   Contrasted With Objections [R-11.2013]

The refusal to grant claims because the subject matter as claimed is considered unpatentable is called a “rejection.” The term “rejected” must be applied to such claims in the examiner’s action. If the form of the claim (as distinguished from its substance) is improper, an “objection” is made. An example of a matter of form as to which objection is made is dependency of a claim on a rejected claim, if the dependent claim is otherwise allowable. See MPEP § 608.01(n). The practical difference between a rejection and an objection is that a rejection, involving the merits of the claim, is subject to review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, while an objection, if persisted, may be reviewed only by way of petition to the Director of the USPTO.

Similarly, the Board will not hear or decide issues pertaining to objections and formal matters which are not properly before the Board. These formal matters should not be combined in appeals to the Board.

706.02   Rejection on Prior Art [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 102  Conditions for patentability; novelty.

[Editor Note: Applicable to any patent application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note)). See pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 for the law applicable to applications and patents not subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.]

  • (a) NOVELTY; PRIOR ART.—A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—
    • (1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; or
    • (2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.
  • (b) EXCEPTIONS.—
    • (1) DISCLOSURES MADE 1 YEAR OR LESS BEFORE THE EFFECTIVE FILING DATE OF THE CLAIMED INVENTION.—A disclosure made 1 year or less before the effective filing date of a claimed invention shall not be prior art to the claimed invention under subsection (a)(1) if—
      • (A) the disclosure was made by the inventor or joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; or
      • (B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor.
    • (2) DISCLOSURES APPEARING IN APPLICATIONS AND PATENTS.—A disclosure shall not be prior art to a claimed invention under subsection (a)(2) if—
      • (A) the subject matter disclosed was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor;
      • (B) the subject matter disclosed had, before such subject matter was effectively filed under subsection (a)(2), been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor; or
      • (C) the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
  • (c) COMMON OWNERSHIP UNDER JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENTS.—Subject matter disclosed and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person in applying the provisions of subsection (b)(2)(C) if—
    • (1) the subject matter disclosed was developed and the claimed invention was made by, or on behalf of, 1 or more parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the effective filing date of the claimed invention;
    • (2) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
    • (3) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
  • (d) PATENTS AND PUBLISHED APPLICATIONS EFFECTIVE AS PRIOR ART.—For purposes of determining whether a patent or application for patent is prior art to a claimed invention under subsection (a)(2), such patent or application shall be considered to have been effectively filed, with respect to any subject matter described in the patent or application—
    • (1) if paragraph (2) does not apply, as of the actual filing date of the patent or the application for patent; or
    • (2) if the patent or application for patent is entitled to claim a right of priority under section 119, 365(a), or 365(b) or to claim the benefit of an earlier filing date under section 120, 121, or 365(c), based upon 1 or more prior filed applications for patent, as of the filing date of the earliest such application that describes the subject matter.

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

[Editor Note: With the exception of subsection (g) in limited circumstances, not applicable to any patent application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note)). For an application or patent subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA, see 35 U.S.C. 102.]

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless —

  • (a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or
  • (b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States, or
  • (c) he has abandoned the invention, or
  • (d) the invention was first patented or caused to be patented, or was the subject of an inventor’s certificate, by the applicant or his legal representatives or assigns in a foreign country prior to the date of the application for patent in this country on an application for patent or inventor’s certificate filed more than twelve months before the filing of the application in the United States, or
  • (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; or
  • (f) he did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented, or
  • (g)(1) during the course of an interference conducted under section 135 or section 291, another inventor involved therein establishes, to the extent permitted in section 104, that before such person’s invention thereof the invention was made by such other inventor and not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed, or (2) before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it. In determining priority of invention under this subsection, there shall be considered not only the respective dates of conception and reduction to practice of the invention, but also the reasonable diligence of one who was first to conceive and last to reduce to practice, from a time prior to conception by the other.

35 U.S.C. 103  Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

[Editor Note: Applicable to any patent application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note)). See pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 for the law applicable to applications and patents not subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.]

A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained, notwithstanding that the claimed invention is not identically disclosed as set forth in section 102, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

35 U.S.C. 103 (pre-AIA)   Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

[Editor Note: Not applicable to any patent application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note)). For an application or patent subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA, see 35 U.S.C. 103.]

  • (a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.
  • (b)
    • (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), and upon timely election by the applicant for patent to proceed under this subsection, a biotechnological process using or resulting in a composition of matter that is novel under section 102 and nonobvious under subsection (a) of this section shall be considered nonobvious if-
      • (A) claims to the process and the composition of matter are contained in either the same application for patent or in separate applications having the same effective filing date; and
      • (B) the composition of matter, and the process at the time it was invented, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) A patent issued on a process under paragraph (1)-
      • (A) shall also contain the claims to the composition of matter used in or made by that process, or
      • (B) shall, if such composition of matter is claimed in another patent, be set to expire on the same date as such other patent, notwithstanding section 154.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (1), the term “biotechnological process” means-
      • (A) a process of genetically altering or otherwise inducing a single- or multi-celled organism to-
        • (i) express an exogenous nucleotide sequence,
        • (ii) inhibit, eliminate, augment, or alter expression of an endogenous nucleotide sequence, or
        • (iii) express a specific physiological characteristic not naturally associated with said organism;
      • (B) cell fusion procedures yielding a cell line that expresses a specific protein, such as a monoclonal antibody; and
      • (C) a method of using a product produced by a process defined by subparagraph (A) or (B), or a combination of subparagraphs (A) and (B).
  • (c)
    • (1) Subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) of section 102 of this title, shall not preclude patentability under this section where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) For purposes of this subsection, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if —
      • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
      • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (2), the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

By far the most frequent ground of rejection is on the ground of unpatentability in view of the prior art, that is, that the claimed subject matter is either not novel under 35 U.S.C. 102, or else it is obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. The language to be used in rejecting claims should be unequivocal. See MPEP § 707.07(d).

I.   CHOICE OF PRIOR ART; BEST AVAILABLE

Prior art rejections should ordinarily be confined strictly to the best available art. Exceptions may properly be made, for example, where:

  • (A) the propriety of a 35 U.S.C. 102 or 103 rejection depends on a particular interpretation of a claim;
  • (B) a claim is met by a reference which does not disclose the inventive concept involved; or
  • (C) the most pertinent reference seems likely avoided by invoking an exception in a 37 CFR 1.130 declaration or to be antedated by a 37 CFR 1.131 affidavit or declaration depending on the applicable version of 35 U.S.C. 102.

Such rejections should be backed up by the best other art rejections available. Merely cumulative rejections, i.e., those which would clearly fall if the primary rejection were not sustained, should be avoided.

See also MPEP § 707.05.

II.   RELIANCE UPON ABSTRACTS AND FOREIGN LANGUAGE DOCUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF A REJECTION

Prior art uncovered in searching the claimed subject matter of a patent application often includes English language abstracts of underlying documents, such as technical literature or foreign patent documents which may not be in the English language. When an abstract is used to support a rejection, the evidence relied upon is the facts contained in the abstract, not additional facts that may be contained in the underlying full text document. Citation of and reliance upon an abstract without citation of and reliance upon the underlying scientific document is generally inappropriate where both the abstract and the underlying document are prior art. See Ex parteJones, 62 USPQ2d 1206, 1208 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 2001) (unpublished).To determine whether both the abstract and the underlying document are prior art, a copy of the underlying document must be obtained and analyzed. If the document is in a language other than English and the examiner seeks to rely on that document, a translation must be obtained so that the record is clear as to the precise facts the examiner is relying upon in support of the rejection. The record must also be clear as to whether the examiner is relying upon the abstract or the full text document to support a rejection. The rationale for this is several-fold. It is not uncommon for a full text document to reveal that the document fully anticipates an invention that the abstract renders obvious at best. The converse may also be true, that the full text document will include teachings away from the invention that will preclude an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103, when the abstract alone appears to support the rejection. An abstract can have a different effective publication date than the full text document. Because all patentability determinations are fact dependent, obtaining and considering full text documents at the earliest practicable time in the examination process will yield the fullest available set of facts upon which to determine patentability, thereby improving quality and reducing pendency.When both the abstract and the underlying document qualify as prior art, the underlying document should normally be used to support a rejection. In limited circumstances, it may be appropriate for the examiner to make a rejection in a non-final Office action based in whole or in part on the abstract only without relying on the full text document. In such circumstances, the full text document and a translation (if not in English) may be supplied in the next Office action. Whether the next Office action may be made final is governed by MPEP § 706.07(a).

III.   RELIANCE ON ADMITTED PRIOR ART IN SUPPORT OF REJECTION

A statement by an applicant in the specification or made during prosecution identifying the work of another as “prior art” is an admission which can be relied upon for both anticipation and obviousness determinations, regardless of whether the admitted prior art would otherwise qualify as prior art under the statutory categories of 35 U.S.C. 102. Riverwood Int’l Corp. v. R.A. Jones & Co., 324 F.3d 1346, 1354, 66 USPQ2d 1331, 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Constant v. Advanced Micro-Devices Inc., 848 F.2d 1560, 1570, 7 USPQ2d 1057, 1063 (Fed. Cir. 1988). See MPEP §§ 2129 and 2152.03 for discussion on admissions as prior art. Where the admitted prior art anticipates the claim but does not qualify as prior art under any of the paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 102, the claim may be rejected as being anticipated by the admitted prior art without citing to 35 U.S.C. 102.

IV.    REEXAMINATION

For scope of rejections in ex parte reexamination proceedings, see MPEP § 2258 and in inter partes reexamination, see MPEP § 2658.

V.    DISTINCTION BETWEEN 35 U.S.C. 102 AND 103

The distinction between rejections based on 35 U.S.C. 102 and those based on 35 U.S.C. 103 should be kept in mind. Under the former, the claim is anticipated by the reference. No question of obviousness is present. In other words, for anticipation under 35 U.S.C. 102, the reference must teach every aspect of the claimed invention either explicitly or impliedly. Any feature not directly taught must be inherently present. Whereas, in a rejection based on 35 U.S.C. 103, the reference teachings must somehow be modified in order to meet the claims. The modification must be one which would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made. See MPEP §§ 2131 - 2146 and 2150 - 2159.04 for guidance on patentability determinations under 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103.

VI.    DETERMINING THE EFFECTIVE FILING DATE OF A CLAIMED INVENTION

The effective filing date of an invention claimed in a U.S. application may be determined as follows:

  • (A) If the application is a continuation or divisional of one or more earlier U.S. applications or international applications and if the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 120 and 365(c), respectively, have been satisfied, the effective filing date is the same as the earliest filing date in the line of continuation or divisional applications.
  • (B) If the application is a continuation-in-part of an earlier U.S. application or international application, any claims in the new application not supported by the specification and claims of the parent application have an effective filing date equal to the filing date of the new application. Any claims which are fully supported under 35 U.S.C. 112 by the earlier parent application have the effective filing date of that earlier parent application.
  • (C) If the application properly claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to a provisional application, the effective filing date is the filing date of the provisional application for any claims which are fully supported under the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112 by the provisional application.
  • (D) If the application claims foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or 365(a) or (b), the definition of the effective filing date of a claimed inventions depends on whether any claim in the application is subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA. See 35 U.S.C. 100(note) and MPEP §§ 2159 et seq. for guidance on this determination.
    • In examining applications subject to current 35 U.S.C. 102 (a first inventor to file provision), for each claim the effective filing date is the filing date of the foreign priority document if the claim is adequately supported in the foreign priority document. See MPEP § 2152.01.
    • In examining applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, the effective filing date is the filing date of the U.S. application, unless situation (A) or (B) as set forth above applies. The effective filing date is not the filing date of the foreign priority document, although the filing date of the foreign priority document may be used to overcome certain references. See MPEP §§ 706.02(b) and 2136.05.

See MPEP § 1893.03(b) for determining the effective filing date of an application under 35 U.S.C. 371. See MPEP §§ 201.11(a) and 1895 for additional information on determining the effective filing date of a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of a PCT application designating the U.S. See also MPEP §§ 1895.01 and 1896 which discuss differences between applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) and international applications that enter national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371.

VII.   REJECTION OF CLAIMS CORRESPONDING TO PATENT CLAIMS

When claims corresponding to claims of a patent are presented in an application, the examiner must determine whether the presented claims are unpatentable on any ground(s), e.g., under 35 U.S.C. 101, 35 U.S.C. 102, 35 U.S.C. 103, 35 U.S.C. 112, double patenting, etc. If any of the claims presented in the application are rejectable on any grounds, they should be so rejected. The ground of rejection of the claims presented in the application may or may not be one which would also be applicable to the corresponding claims in the patent. If the ground of rejection is also applicable to the corresponding claims in the patent, any office action including the rejection must have the approval of the Technology Center Director. See MPEP § 1003. For interferences and derivation proceedings, see MPEP Chapter 2300 and 37 CFR Parts 41 and 42.

706.02(a)   Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) and (a)(2) and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), or (e); Printed Publication or Patent

Once the examiner conducts a search and finds a printed publication or patent which discloses the claimed invention, the examiner should determine whether the rejection should be made under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or if the application is subject to the former prior art regime, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), or (e). See MPEP § 2159 for guidance.

In order to determine which paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 102 applies, the effective filing date of the application and each claimed invention must be determined and compared with the date of the reference. See MPEP §§ 706.02 and 2152.01 regarding determination of effective filing date of the claimed invention.

The examiner must also determine the issue or publication date of the reference so that a proper comparison between the application and reference dates can be made. See MPEP §§ 2124, 2126, 2128 - 2128.02, and 2152.02 - 2154.02(c) for case law relevant to reference date determination.

See MPEP § 706.02(a)(1) for determining whether to apply 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or (a)(2). See MPEP § 706.02(a)(2) for determining whether to apply pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), or (e).

  

  

706.02(a)(1)   Determining Whether To Apply 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 102(a)(2) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(a)(2) for examination of applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]

I.   35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1)

First, the examiner should consider whether the reference qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). Next the examiner must determine if any exceptions in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1) apply.

Patents claiming or describing the claimed inventions, descriptions of the claimed invention in a printed publication, public use of the claimed invention, placing the claimed invention on sale, and otherwise making the claimed invention available to the public qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) if the reference predates the effective filing date of the claim. The sale or use of the invention need not occur in the United States to qualify. See MPEP § 2152.

Potential references may be disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A) when the inventor's own work has been publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A) provides that a disclosure which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) is not prior art if the disclosure was made: (1) One year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; and (2) by the inventor or a joint inventor, or by another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. See MPEP §§ 2153.01(a) and 2153.01(b).

Potential references may also be disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) if the reference discloses subject matter that was publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. Specifically, 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) provides that a disclosure which would otherwise qualify as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) (patent, printed publication, public use, sale, or other means of public availability) may be disqualified as prior art if: (1) The disclosure was made one year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; and (2) the subject matter disclosed had been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. See MPEP §§ 2153.02 and 717.01(b)(2).

II.   35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2)

First, the examiner should consider whether the reference qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Next the examiner must determine if any exceptions in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2) apply.

U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b), and international patent applications published under the Patent Cooperation Treaty to another are prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if the filing or effective filing date of the disclosure of the reference is before the effective filing date of the claimed invention. Even if the issue or publication date of the reference is not before the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the reference may still be applicable as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if it was “effectively filed” before the effective filing date of the claimed invention with respect to the subject matter relied upon to reject the claim. MPEP § 2152.01 discusses the “effective filing date” of a claimed invention. 35 U.S.C. 102(d) sets forth the criteria to determine when subject matter described in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application was “effectively filed” for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). See MPEP § 2154.

Potential references may be disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) by the three exception provisions of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2). 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A) limits the use of an inventor's own work as prior art, when the inventor's own work is disclosed in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application by another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) disqualifies subject matter that was effectively filed by another after the subject matter had been publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) disqualifies subject matter disclosed in a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application from constituting prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, “were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.” 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) resembles pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in that both concern common ownership, and both offer an avenue by which an applicant may avoid certain prior art. However, there are significant differences between 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 2154.02(b).

706.02(a)(2)   Determining Whether To Apply Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), or (e) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(a)(1) for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.]

I.   PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)

First, the examiner should consider whether the reference qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) because this section results in a statutory bar to obtaining a patent. If the publication or issue date of the reference is more than 1 year prior to the effective filing date of the application (MPEP § 706.02), the reference qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b).

Where the last day of the year dated from the date of publication falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday, the publication is not a statutory bar under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) if the application was filed on the next succeeding business day. Ex parte Olah, 131 USPQ 41 (Bd. App. 1960) (The Board in Olah held that 35 U.S.C. 21(b) is applicable to the filing of an original application for patent and that applicant’s own activity will not bar a patent if the 1-year grace period expires on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday and the application’s U.S. filing date is the next succeeding business day.) Despite changes to 37 CFR 1.6(a)(2) and 1.10 which permit the USPTO to accord a filing date to an application as of the date of deposit as “Express Mail” with the U.S. Postal Service in accordance with 37 CFR 1.10 (e.g., a Saturday filing date), the rule changes do not affect applicant’s concurrent right to defer the filing of an application until the next business day when the last day for “taking any action” falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday (e.g., the last day of the 1-year grace period falls on a Saturday).

II.   PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

If the publication or issue date of the reference is too recent for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) to apply, then the examiner should consider pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

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 version of 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in force on November 28, 2000). See subsection III, below and MPEP § 2136.03 for additional information.

In order to apply a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) , the inventive entity of the application must be different than that of the reference. Note that, where there are joint inventors, only one inventor needs to be different for the inventive entities to be different and a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is applicable even if there are some inventors in common between the application and the reference.

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

*****

  • (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; or

*****

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) has two separate clauses, namely, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) for publications of patent applications and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) for U.S. patents. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1), in combination with 35 U.S.C. 374, created a new category of prior art by providing prior art effect for certain publications of patent applications, including certain international applications, as of their effective United States filing dates (which include certain international filing dates). Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), an international filing date which is on or after November 29, 2000 is the United States filing date if the international application designated the United States and was published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Article 21(2) in the English language. Therefore, the prior art date of a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) may be the international filing date (if all three conditions noted above are met) or an earlier U.S. filing date for which priority or benefit is properly claimed.

Publication under PCT Article 21(2) may result from a request for early publication by an applicant of an international application or after the expiration of 18-months after the earliest claimed filing date in an international application. An applicant in an international application that has designated only the U.S. continues to be required to request publication from WIPO as the reservation under PCT Article 64(3) continues to be in effect for such applicants. 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). An international filing date which is on or after November 29, 2000 is a United States filing date for purposes of determining the earliest effective prior art date of a patent if the international application designated the United States and was published in the English language under PCT Article 21(2) by WIPO. No international filing dates prior to November 29, 2000 may be relied upon as a prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

III.   35 U.S.C. 102(e) AS IN FORCE ON NOVEMBER 28, 2000

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 -

*****

  • (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.

*****

Patents issued directly, or indirectly, from international applications filed before November 29, 2000 may only be used as prior art based on the provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as in force on November 28, 2000. Thus, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of such a prior art patent is the earliest of the date of compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4), or the filing date of the later-filed U.S. continuing application that claimed the benefit of the international application. Publications of international applications filed before November 29, 2000 (which would include WIPO publications and U.S. publications of the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371)) do not have a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date at all (however, such publications are available as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of the publication date).

IV.   PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)

Even if the reference is prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the examiner should still consider pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) for two reasons. First, if the reference is a U.S. patent or patent application publication of, or claims benefit of, an international application, the publication of the international application under PCT Article 21(2) may be the earliest prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) for the disclosure. Second, references that are only prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) and applied in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) are subject to being disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) if the reference and the application were commonly owned, or subject to an obligation of common assignment, at the time the invention was made. For pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) to apply, the reference must have a publication date earlier in time than the effective filing date of the application, and must not be applicant’s own work.

706.02(b)   Overcoming a 35 U.S.C. 102 Rejection Based on a Printed Publication or Patent

In all applications, an applicant may overcome a 35 U.S.C. 102 rejection by persuasively arguing that the claims are patentably distinguishable from the prior art, or by amending the claims to patentably distinguish over the prior art. Additional ways available to overcome a rejection based on 35 U.S.C. 102 prior art depend on whether or not any claim in the application being examined is subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.

See MPEP § 706.02(b)(1) for overcoming a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or (a)(2). See MPEP § 706.02(b)(2) for overcoming a prior art rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.

706.02(b)(1)   Overcoming a 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 102(a)(2) Rejection Based on a Printed Publication or Patent [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(b)(2) for examination of applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]

In addition to persuasively arguing that the claims are patentably distinguishable over the prior art or amending the claims to overcome the prior art rejection, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or 102(a)(2) can be overcome by:

  • (A) Perfecting benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.78(c) or filing a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.78(d), (1) by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(c) , and (2) by establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a). See MPEP § 211et seq. and MPEP § 706.02 ; or
  • (B) Perfecting benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) by complying with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.78(a) or filing a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.78(b), (1) by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(c), and (2) by establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a). See MPEP § 211et seq. and MPEP § 706.02 ; or
  • (C) Submitting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) - (d) within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.55 or filing a grantable petition to accept a delayed priority claim under 37 CFR 1.55. See MPEP §§ 213 - 216. The foreign priority filing date must antedate the reference and be perfected. The filing date of the priority document is not perfected unless applicant has filed a certified priority document in the application (and an English language translation, if the document is not in English) (see 37 CFR 1.55(g)) and the examiner has established that the priority document satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a); or
  • (D) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130 to establish that an applied reference or disclosure that was not made more than one year before the effective filing date of the claimed invention is not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a) due to an exception listed in 35 U.S.C. 102(b). Under 37 CFR 1.130(a), an affidavit or declaration of attribution may be submitted to disqualify a disclosure as prior art because it was made by the inventor or a joint inventor, or the subject matter disclosed was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor. Under 37 CFR 1.130(b), an affidavit or declaration of prior public disclosure may be submitted to disqualify an intervening disclosure as prior art if the subject matter disclosed had been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor (1) before the date the intervening disclosure was made on which the rejection is based, or (2) before the date the subject matter in the U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application on which the rejection is based was effectively filed. See MPEP §§ 717 and 2155; or
  • (E) Establishing common ownership or establishing evidence of a Joint Research Agreement to overcome a 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) rejection or a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) by establishing entitlement to the 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) exception. See MPEP §§ 717.02 and2154.02(c).

706.02(b)(2)   Overcoming a Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b), or (e) Rejection Based on a Printed Publication or Patent [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(b)(1) for examination of applications subject to 35 U.S.C. 102.]

A rejection based on pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) can be overcome by:

  • (A) Persuasively arguing that the claims are patentably distinguishable from the prior art;
  • (B) Amending the claims to patentably distinguish over the prior art;
  • (C) Perfecting benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.78 or filing a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.78, by (1)(a) for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(a), or (1)(b) for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, by amending the specification of the application to contain a specific reference to a prior application or by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(a), and (2) by establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112 . See MPEP § 211et seq. and MPEP § 706.02; or
  • (D) Perfecting benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) by complying with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.78 (see item (C) above). Since a provisional application could not have been filed more than one year prior to the filing of a nonprovisional application that claims benefit to the provisional application, once the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e)) is perfected, the rejection must be reconsidered to determine whether the prior art still qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) or whether the prior art qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a). If the prior art qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), see below as to how to overcome the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) rejection.

A rejection based on pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) can be overcome by:

  • (A) Persuasively arguing that the claims are patentably distinguishable from the prior art;
  • (B) Amending the claims to patentably distinguish over the prior art;
  • (C) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 showing that the reference invention is not by “another.” See MPEP §§ 715.01(a), 715.01(c), and 716.10;
  • (D) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(a) showing prior invention, if the reference is not a U.S. patent or a U.S. patent application publication claiming interfering subject matter as defined in 37 CFR 41.203(a) (subject matter of a claim of one party would, if prior art, have anticipated or rendered obvious the subject matter of a claim of the opposing party and vice versa). See MPEP § 715 for more information on 37 CFR 1.131(a) affidavits. When the claims of the reference U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication and the application are directed to the same invention or are obvious variants, an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(a) is not an acceptable method of overcoming the rejection. Under these circumstances, the examiner must determine whether a double patenting rejection or interference is appropriate. If there is a common assignee or inventor between the application and patent, a double patenting rejection must be made. See MPEP § 804. If there is no common assignee or inventor and the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is the only possible rejection, the examiner must determine whether an interference should be declared. See MPEP Chapter 2300 for more information regarding interferences;
  • (E) Submitting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) within the time period set in 37 CFR 1.55 or filing a grantable petition to accept an unintentionally delayed priority claim under 37 CFR 1.55. See MPEP §§ 213 - 216. The foreign priority filing date must antedate the reference and be perfected. The filing date of the priority document is not perfected unless applicant has filed a certified priority document in the application (and an English language translation, if the document is not in English) (see 37 CFR 1.55(a)) and the examiner has established that the priority document satisfies the enablement and description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012), or 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph (for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012).
  • (F) Perfecting benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120, within the time periods set in 37 CFR 1.78(a) or filing a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.78(a) by (1)(a) for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(a), or (1)(b) for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012, amending the specification of the application to contain a specific reference to a prior application or by filing an application data sheet under 37 CFR 1.76 which contains a specific reference to a prior application in accordance with 37 CFR 1.78(a), and (2) establishing that the prior application satisfies the enablement and written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) (for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012), or 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph (for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012).

A rejection based on pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) can be overcome by:

  • (A) Persuasively arguing that the claims are patentably distinguishable from the prior art;
  • (B) Amending the claims to patentably distinguish over the prior art;
  • (C) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(a) showing prior invention, if the reference is not a U.S. patent or a U.S. patent application publication claiming interfering subject matter as defined in 37 CFR 41.203(a) (subject matter of a claim of one party would, if prior art, have anticipated or rendered obvious the subject matter of a claim of the opposing party and vice versa). See MPEP § 715 for information on the requirements of 37 CFR 1.131(a) affidavits. When the claims of the reference U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication and the application are directed to the same invention or are obvious variants, an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(a) is not appropriate to overcome the rejection.
  • (D) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 showing that the reference invention is not by “another.” See MPEP § 715.01(a), § 715.01(c), and § 716.10;
  • (E) Perfecting a claim to priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) as explained in reference to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) above;
  • (F) Perfecting benefit under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120 as explained in reference to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

706.02(c)   Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b); Knowledge by Others or Public Use or Sale

An applicant may make an admission, or submit evidence of sale of the invention or knowledge of the invention by others, or the examiner may have personal knowledge that the invention was sold by applicant or known by others.

Note that as an aid to resolving public use or on sale issues, as well as to other related matters of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) activity, an applicant may be required to answer specific questions posed by the examiner and to explain or supplement any evidence of record. See 35 U.S.C. 132, 37 CFR 1.104(a)(2). Information sought should be restricted to that which is reasonably necessary for the examiner to render a decision on patentability. The examiner may consider making a requirement for information under 37 CFR 1.105 where the evidence of record indicates reasonable necessity. See MPEP § 704.10et seq.

A 1- or 2-month time period should be set by the examiner for any reply to the requirement, unless the requirement is part of an Office action having a shortened statutory period, in which case the period for reply to the Office action will also apply to the requirement. If applicant fails to reply in a timely fashion to a requirement for information, the application will be regarded as abandoned. 35 U.S.C. 133. See MPEP § 2133.03.

If there is not enough information on which to base a public use or on sale rejection, the examiner should make a requirement for more information. Form paragraph 7.104.aia. or 7.104.fti can be used.

¶ 7.104.fti    Requirement for Information, Public Use or Sale

An issue of public use or on sale activity has been raised in this application. In order for the examiner to properly consider patentability of the claimed invention under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), additional information regarding this issue is required as follows: [1]

Applicant is reminded that failure to fully reply to this requirement for information will result in a holding of abandonment.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.105, and should be followed by form paragraphs 7.1227.126 as appropriate.
  • 2. Information sought should be restricted to that which is reasonably necessary for the examiner to render a decision on patentability. See MPEP § 2133.03.
  • 3. A one or two month time period should be set by the examiner for reply to the requirement unless it is part of an Office action having an SSP, in which case the period for reply will apply also to the requirement.
  • 4. If sufficient evidence already exists to establish a prima facie case of public use or on sale, use form paragraph 7.16.fti to make a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b). See MPEP § 2133.03.

¶ 7.104.aia    Requirement for Information, Public Use or Sale or Other Public Availability

An issue of public use, on sale activity, or other public availability has been raised in this application. In order for the examiner to properly consider patentability of the claimed invention under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), additional information regarding this issue is required as follows: [1]

Applicant is reminded that failure to fully reply to this requirement for information will result in a holding of abandonment.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.105, and should be followed by form paragraphs 7.1227.126 as appropriate.
  • 2. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 3. Information sought should be restricted to that which is reasonably necessary for the examiner to render a decision on patentability. See MPEP § 2133.03.
  • 4. A one or two month time period should be set by the examiner for reply to the requirement unless it is part of an Office action having a shortened statutory period (SSP), in which case the period for reply will apply also to the requirement.
  • 5. If sufficient evidence already exists to establish a prima facie case of public use, sale, or other public availability use form paragraph 7.16.aia to make a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). See MPEP § 2133.03.

706.02(c)(1)   Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1); Public Use or Public Sale [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(c)(2) for the examination of applications not subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving public use or public sale.]

Public use and on sale rejections under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) may be based on uses and sales from anywhere in the world. The uses and on sale activities must be "public." Secret commercial sales should not be applied as "on sale" prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). See MPEP § 2152.02(d). While there is no requirement that the use or sale activity be by another, it should be noted that certain uses or sales are subject to the exceptions in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1), e.g., uses or sales by the inventor or a joint inventor (or have originated with the inventor), that precede the effective filing date by less than one year. See MPEP § 2154.02.

706.02(c)(2)   Rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and (b); Public Use or On Sale [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.02(c)(1) for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving public use or public sale.]

The language "in this country" in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and (b) means in the United States only and does not include other WTO or NAFTA member countries. In these cases the examiner must determine if pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 102(b) applies. See MPEP § 2133.03 for a discussion of case law treating the “public use” and “on sale” statutory bars.

If the activity is by an entity other than the inventors or assignee, such as sale by another, manufacture by another or disclosure of the invention by applicant to another then both pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and (b) may be applicable. If the evidence only points to knowledge within the year prior to the effective filing date then pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) applies. However, no rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) should be made if there is evidence that applicant made the invention and only disclosed it to others within the year prior to the effective filing date.

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) is applicable if the activity occurred more than 1 year prior to the effective filing date of the application. See MPEP § 2133.03 for a discussion of "on sale" and "public use" bars under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b).

706.02(d)   Rejections Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159.]

Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c), abandonment of the “invention” (as distinguished from abandonment of an application) results in loss of right to a patent. See MPEP § 2134 for case law which sets forth the criteria for abandonment under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c).

706.02(e)   Rejections Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) establishes four conditions which, if all are present, establish a statutory bar against the granting of a patent in this country:

  • (A) The foreign application must be filed more than 12 months before the effective filing date of the United States application. See MPEP § 706.02 regarding determination of the effective filing date of the application.
  • (B) The foreign and United States applications must be filed by the same applicant, his or her legal representatives or assigns.
  • (C) The foreign application must have actually issued as a patent or inventor’s certificate (e.g., granted by sealing of the papers in Great Britain) before the filing in the United States. It need not be published but the patent rights granted must be enforceable.
  • (D) The same invention must be involved.

If such a foreign patent or inventor’s certificate is discovered by the examiner, the rejection is made under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) on the ground of statutory bar.

See MPEP § 2135.01 for case law which further clarifies each of the four requirements of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d).

  SEARCHING FOR PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) PRIOR ART

The examiner should only undertake a search for an issued foreign patent for use as pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) prior art if there is a reasonable possibility that a foreign patent covering the same subject matter as the U.S. application has been granted to the same inventive entity before the U.S. effective filing date, i.e., the time period between foreign and U.S. filings is greater than the usual time it takes for a patent to issue in the foreign country. Normally, the probability of the inventor’s foreign patent issuing before the U.S. filing date is so slight as to make such a search unproductive. However, it should be kept in mind that the average pendency varies greatly between foreign countries. In Belgium, for instance, a patent may be granted in just a month after its filing, while in Japan the patent may not issue for several years.

The search for a granted patent can be accomplished on an electronic database either by the examiner or by the staff of the Scientific and Technical Information Center. See MPEP § 901.06(a), subsection IV.B., for more information on online searching. The document must be a patent or inventor’s certificate and not merely a published or laid open application.

706.02(f)   Rejection Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 2154 et seq. for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, rejections based on U.S. patent documents.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), in part, allows for certain prior art (i.e., U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications and WIPO publications of international applications) to be applied against the claims as of its effective U.S. filing date. This provision of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 is mostly utilized when the publication or issue date is too recent for the reference to be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b). In order to apply a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the inventive entity of the application must be different than that of the reference. Note that, where there are joint inventors, only one inventor needs to be different for the inventive entities to be different and a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is applicable even if there are some inventors in common between the application and the reference.

706.02(f)(1)   Examination Guidelines for Applying References 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 provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 2154 et seq. for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, rejections based on U.S. patent documents.]

I.   DETERMINE THE APPROPRIATE PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) DATE FOR EACH POTENTIAL REFERENCE BY FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES, EXAMPLES, AND FLOW CHARTS SET FORTH BELOW:

  • (A) The potential reference must be a U.S. patent, a U.S. application publication (35 U.S.C. 122(b)) or a WIPO publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2) in order to apply the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).
  • (B) Determine if the potential reference resulted from, or claimed the benefit of, an international application. If the reference does, go to step (C) below. The 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of a reference that did not result from, nor claimed the benefit of, an international application is its earliest effective U.S. filing date, taking into consideration any proper benefit claims to prior U.S. applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120 if the prior application(s) properly supports the subject matter used to make the rejection in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. See MPEP § 2136.02.
  • (C) If the potential reference resulted from, or claimed the benefit of, an international application, the following must be determined:
    • (1) If the international application meets the following three conditions:
      • (a) an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000;
      • (b) designated the United States; and
      • (c) published under PCT Article 21(2) in English,

    then 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 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), 119(e), 120, or 365(c) are met. The subject matter used in the rejection must be disclosed in the earlier-filed application in compliance with 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). 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).

    • (2) 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 for prior art purposes. 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 pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(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).
    • (3) If the international application has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, apply the reference under the provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 374, prior to the AIPA amendments:
      • (a) For U.S. patents, apply the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) 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;
      • (b) For U.S. application publications and WIPO publications directly resulting from international applications under PCT Article 21(2), never apply these references under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). These references may be applied as of their publication dates under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b);
      • (c) 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 pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of the actual filing date of the later-filed U.S. application that claimed the benefit of the international application.
    • (4) Examiners should be aware that although a publication of, or a U.S. Patent issued from, an international application may not have a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date at all, or may have a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date that is after the effective filing date of the application being examined (so it is not “prior art”), the corresponding WIPO publication of an international application may have an earlier pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)) date.
  • (D) Foreign applications’ filing dates that are claimed (via 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d), (f), or 365(a) or (b)) 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) or (b).

II.   EXAMPLES

In order to illustrate the prior art dates of U.S. and WIPO publications of patent applications and U.S. patents under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), nine examples are presented below. The examples only cover the most common factual situations that might be encountered when determining the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of a reference. Examples 1 and 2 involve only U.S. application publications and U.S. patents. Example 3 involves a priority claim to a foreign patent application. Examples 4-9 involve international applications. The time lines in the examples below show the history of the prior art references that could be applied against the claims of the application under examination, or the patent under reexamination.

The examples only show the information necessary to determine a prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). Also, the dates in the examples below are arbitrarily used and are presented for illustrative purposes only. Therefore, correlation of patent grant dates with Tuesdays or application publication dates with Thursdays may not be portrayed in the examples. All references to 35 U.S.C. 102 in the examples and flowcharts below are to the version of 35 U.S.C. 102 in effect on March 15, 2012 (the pre-AIA version).

Example 1: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with no Priority/Benefit Claims.
For reference publications and patents of patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) with no claim for the benefit of, or priority to, a prior application, the prior art dates under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) accorded to these references are the earliest effective U.S. filing dates. Thus, a publication and patent of a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application, which does not claim any benefit under either 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120 or 365(c), would be accorded the application’s actual filing date as its prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).
Example 1: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with no Priority/Benefit Claims.

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication is 08 Dec. 2000. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 08 Dec. 2000.

Example 2: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with a Benefit Claim to a Prior U.S. Provisional or Nonprovisional Application.
For reference publications and patents of patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the prior art dates under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) accorded to these references are the earliest effective U.S. filing dates. Thus, a publication and patent of a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application, which claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to a prior U.S. provisional application or claims the benefit 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), assuming the earlier-filed application has proper support for the subject matter as required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120.
Example 2: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with a Benefit Claim to a Prior U.S. Provisional or Nonprovisional Application

The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication is: 01 Jan. 2000. The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 01 Jan. 2000.

Example 3: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) Priority Claim to a Prior Foreign Application.
For reference publications and patents of patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the prior art dates under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) accorded to these references are the earliest effective U.S. filing dates. No benefit of the filing date of the foreign application is given under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) for prior art purposes (In re Hilmer, 149 USPQ 480 (CCPA 1966)). Thus, a publication and patent of a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application, which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) to a prior foreign-filed application (or under 35 U.S.C. 365(a) to an international application), would be accorded its U.S. filing date as its prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). In the example below, it is assumed that the earlier-filed U.S. application has proper support for the subject matter of the later-filed U.S. application as required by 35 U.S.C. 120.
Example 3: Reference Publication and Patent of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application with 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) Priority Claim to a Prior Foreign Application.

The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication is: 21 June 1999. The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 21 June 1999.

Example 4: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed on or after November 29, 2000 and which was published in English under PCT Article 21(2).
All references, whether the WIPO publication, the U.S. patent application publication or the U.S. patent, of an international application (IA) that was filed on or after November 29, 2000, designated the U.S., and was published in English under PCT Article 21(2) by WIPO have the 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date of the international filing date or earlier effective U.S. filing date. No benefit of the international filing date (nor any U.S. filing dates prior to the IA), however, is given for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art purposes if the IA was published under PCT Article 21(2) in a language other than English.
Example 4: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed on or after November 29, 2000 and which was published in English under PCT Article 21(2).

The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: 01 Jan. 2001. The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: 01 Jan. 2001. The 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 01 Jan. 2001.

Additional Benefit Claims:
If a later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of the IA in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent or publication of the later-filed U.S. application would be the international filing date, assuming the earlier-filed IA has proper support for the subject matter relied upon as required by 35 U.S.C. 120.
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of an earlier-filed U.S. provisional (35 U.S.C. 111(b)) application or the benefit of an earlier-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date for all the references would be the filing date of the earlier-filed U.S. application, assuming the earlier-filed application has proper support for the subject matter relied upon as required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120.
Example 5: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed on or after November 29, 2000 and which was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2).

All references, whether the WIPO publication, the U.S. patent application publication or the U.S. patent, of an international application (IA) that was filed on or after November 29, 2000, but was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2) have no 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date at all. According to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), no benefit of the international filing date (nor any U.S. filing dates prior to the IA) is given for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art purposes if the IA was published under PCT Article 21(2) in a language other than English, regardless of whether the international application entered the national stage. Such references may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of their publication dates, but never under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

Example 5: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed on or after November 29, 2000 and which was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2).

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: None.

The IA publication by WIPO can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date (01 July 2002).
Additional Benefit Claims:
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of to any earlier-filed U.S. application (whether provisional or nonprovisional), there would still be no pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date for all the references.
If a later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of the IA in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent or publication of the later-filed U.S. application would be the actual filing date of the later-filed U.S. application.
Example 6: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed prior to November 29, 2000 (language of the publication under PCT Article 21(2) is not relevant).
The reference U.S. patent issued from an international application (IA) that was filed prior to November 29, 2000, has a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date of the date of fulfillment of the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4). This is the former pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The application publications, both the WIPO publication and the U.S. publication, published from an international application that was filed prior to November 29, 2000, do not have any pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date. According to the effective date provisions as amended by Pub. L. 107-273, the amendments to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and 374 are not applicable to international applications having international filing dates prior to November 29, 2000. The application publications can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of their publication dates.
Example 6: References based on the national stage (35 U.S.C. 371) of an International Application filed prior to November 29, 2000 (language of the publication under PCT Article 21(2) is not relevant).

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date for the Patent is: 01 July 2002.

The IA publication by WIPO can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date (01 July 2001).
Additional Benefit Claims:
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of any earlier-filed U.S. application (whether provisional or nonprovisional), there would still be no pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the U.S. and WIPO application publications, and the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date for the patent will still be 01 July 2002 (the date of fulfillment of the requirements under 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4)).
If a later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of the IA in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date of the application publication of the later-filed U.S. application would be the actual filing date of the later-filed U.S. application, and the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent of the later-filed U.S. application would be 01 July 2002 (the date that the earlier-filed IA fulfilled the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4)).
If the patent was based on a later-filed U.S. application that claimed the benefit of the international application and the later filed U.S. application’s filing date is before the date the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) were fulfilled (if fulfilled at all), the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent would be the filing date of the later-filed U.S. application that claimed the benefit of the international application.
Example 7: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation of an International Application, which was filed on or after November 29, 2000, designated the U.S. and was published in English under PCT Article 21(2).
All references, whether the WIPO publication, the U.S. patent application publication or the U.S. patent of, or claiming the benefit of, an international application (IA) that was filed on or after November 29, 2000, designated the U.S., and was published in English under PCT Article 21(2) have the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date of the international filing date or earlier effective U.S. filing date. No benefit of the international filing date (nor any U.S. filing dates prior to the IA), however, is given for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) purposes if the IA was published under PCT Article 21(2) by WIPO in a language other than English. In the example below, it is assumed that the earlier-filed IA has proper support for the subject matter of the later-filed U.S. application as required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 365(c).
Example 7: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation of an International Application, which was filed on or after November 29, 2000, designated the U.S. and was published in English under PCT Article 21(2).

The pre-AIA35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: 01 Mar. 2001. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: 01 Mar. 2001. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 01 Mar. 2001.

Additional Benefit Claims:
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of an earlier-filed U.S. provisional (35 U.S.C. 111(b)) application or the benefit of an earlier-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date for all the references would be the filing date of the earlier-filed U.S. application, assuming the earlier-filed application has proper support for the subject matter relied upon as required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or 120.
If a second, later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent or publication of the second, later-filed U.S. application would still be the international filing date of the IA, assuming the earlier-filed IA has proper support for the subject matter relied upon as required by 35 U.S.C. 120 and 365(c).
Example 8: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation of an International Application, which was filed on or after November 29, 2000 and was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2).
Both the U.S. publication and the U.S. patent of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) continuation of an international application (IA) that was filed on or after November 29, 2000 but not published in English under PCT Article 21(2) have the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date of the actual U.S. filing date of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application. No benefit of the international filing date (nor any U.S. filing dates prior to the IA) is given for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) purposes since the IA was published under PCT Article 21(2) in a language other than English. The IA publication under PCT Article 21(2) does not have a prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) because the IA was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2). The IA publication under PCT Article 21(2) can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date.
Example 8: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation of an International Application, which was filed on or after November 29, 2000 and was not published in English under PCT Article 21(2).

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: 01 May 2003. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 01 May 2003

The IA publication by WIPO can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date (01 Sept 2002).
Additional Benefit Claims:
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of any earlier-filed U.S. application (whether provisional or nonprovisional), there would still be no pre-AIA35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA publication by WIPO, and the U.S. patent application publication and patent would still have a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the actual filing date of the later-filed 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above (01 May 2003).
If a second, later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent or publication of the second, later-filed U.S. application would still be the actual filing date of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above (01 May 2003).
Example 9: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation (filed prior to any entry of the national stage) of an International Application, which was filed prior to November 29, 2000 (language of the publication under PCT Article 21(2) is not relevant).
Both the U.S. publication and the U.S. patent of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) continuation (filed prior to any entry of the national stage) of an international application (IA) that was filed prior to November 29, 2000, have the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art date of their actual U.S. filing date under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). No benefit of the international filing date (nor any U.S. filing dates prior to the IA) is given for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior art purposes since the IA was filed prior to November 29, 2000. The IA publication under PCT Article 21(2) does not have a prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) because the IA was filed prior to November 29, 2000. The IA publication under PCT Article 21(2) can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date.
Example 9: References based on a 35 U.S.C. 111(a) Application which is a Continuation (filed prior to any entry of the national stage) of an International Application, which was filed prior to November 29, 2000 (language of the publication under PCT Article 21(2) is not relevant).

The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA Publication by WIPO is: None. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the Publication by USPTO is: 01 Dec. 2000. The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)(2) date for the Patent is: 01 Dec. 2000.

The IA publication by WIPO can be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date (01 Sept 2000).
Additional Benefit Claims:
If the IA properly claimed the benefit of any earlier-filed U.S. application (whether provisional or nonprovisional), there would still be no pre-AIA35 U.S.C. 102(e)(1) date for the IA publication by WIPO, and the U.S. application publication and patent would still have a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the actual filing date of later-filed 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above (01 Dec 2000).
If a second, later-filed U.S. nonprovisional (35 U.S.C. 111(a)) application claimed the benefit of 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above, the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the patent or publication of the second, later-filed U.S. application would still be the actual filing date of the 35 U.S.C. 111(a) application in the example above (01 Dec 2000).

III.   FLOWCHARTS

Flowchart for 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Dates. Chart I: For U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication under 35 U.S.C. § 122(b) (includes publication of § 371 applications)
Flowchart for 35 U.S.C. 102(e) Dates. Chart II: For WIPO publication of International Applications (IAs)

706.02(f)(2)   Provisional Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e); Reference Is a Copending U.S. Patent Application [R-11.2013]

If an earlier filed, copending, and unpublished U.S. patent application discloses subject matter which would anticipate the claims in a later filed pending U.S. application which has a different inventive entity, the examiner should determine whether a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) of the later filed application can be made. In addition, a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) may be made, in the circumstances described below, if the earlier filed, pending 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.

I.   COPENDING U.S. APPLICATIONS HAVING AT LEAST ONE COMMON INVENTOR OR ARE COMMONLY ASSIGNED

If (1) at least one common inventor exists between the applications or the applications are commonly assigned and (2) the effective filing dates are different, then a provisional rejection of the later filed application should be made. The provisional rejection is appropriate in circumstances where if the earlier filed application is published or becomes a patent it would constitute actual prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102. Since the earlier-filed application is not published at the time of the rejection, the rejection must be provisionally made under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

A provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) can be overcome in the same manner that a 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection can be overcome. See MPEP § 706.02(b). The provisional rejection canalso be overcome by abandoning the applications and filing a new application containing the subject matter of both.

Form paragraph 7.15.01.aia should be used when making a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Form paragraph 7.15.01.fti should be used when making a provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).

¶ 7.15.01.aia    Provisional Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) - Common Assignee or At Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being anticipated by copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application.

Based upon the earlier effective filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented under 35 U.S.C. 151. This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4].

This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the copending application was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (3) a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) establishing that, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention were either owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application with an earlier effective filing date that discloses the claimed invention which has not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 3. 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) may be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent granted under 35 U.S.C. 151 that has an effective filing date earlier than the application;
    • a U.S. Patent Application Publication published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) that has an effective filing date earlier than the application; or
    • a WIPO publication of an international application where the WIPO publication has an effective filing date earlier than the application.

      If any of the three types of prior art documents under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) was published before the effective filing date of the application under examination, then the prior art document is also applicable under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).

  • 4. If the claims would have been obvious over the invention disclosed in the other copending application, use form paragraph 7.21.01.aia.
  • 5. In bracket 1, insert claim number(s) under rejection.
  • 6. In bracket 2, insert the application number.
  • 7. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 8. In bracket 4, provide an appropriate explanation of the examiner’s position on anticipation.
  • 9. If the claims of the copending application are directed to the same invention as the claims of the instant application, a provisional double patenting rejection should also be given using form paragraphs 8.30 and 8.32.
  • 10. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.01.fti    Provisional Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) - Common Assignee or At Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being anticipated by copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application.

Based upon the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4].

This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) might be overcome either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that any invention disclosed but not claimed in the copending application was derived from the inventor of this application and is thus not the invention “by another,” or by an appropriate showing under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application with an earlier filing date that discloses the claimed invention which has not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 2. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (form paragraph 7.12.fti) to determine the copending application reference’s prior art date, unless the copending application reference is based directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. If the copending application reference is either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (form paragraph 7.12.01.fti). See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 3. If the claims would have been obvious over the invention disclosed in the other copending application, use form paragraph 7.21.01.fti.
  • 4. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 5. In bracket 4, an appropriate explanation may be provided in support of the examiner’s position on anticipation, if necessary.
  • 6. If the claims of the copending application are directed to the same invention as the claims of the instant application, a provisional double patenting rejection should also be given using form paragraphs 8.30 and 8.32.
  • 7. If evidence is additionally of record to show that either invention is prior art unto the other under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g), a rejection using form paragraphs 7.13.fti and/or 7.14.fti should also be made.
  • 8. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

II.   COPENDING APPLICATIONS HAVING NO COMMON INVENTOR OR ASSIGNEE

If there is no common assignee or common inventor and the application was not published pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 122(b), the confidential status of applications under 35 U.S.C. 122(a) must be maintained and no rejection can be made relying on the earlier filed, unpublished application, or subject matter not supported in a redacted application publication, as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). For applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g), if the filing dates of the applications are within 6 months of each other (3 months for simple subject matter) then interference may be proper. See MPEP Chapter 2300. If the application with the earliest effective U.S. filing date will not be published pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 122(b), it must be allowed to issue once all the statutory requirements are met. After the patent is published, it may be used as a reference in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in the still pending application as appropriate. See MPEP § 706.02(a), MPEP § 2136et seq and MPEP § 2154.

706.02(g)   Rejections Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 706.03(a), subsection IV, for rejections based on improper naming of the inventor in applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) bars the issuance of a patent where an applicant did not invent the subject matter being claimed and sought to be patented. See also 35 U.S.C. 101, which requires that whoever invents or discovers is the party who may obtain a patent for the particular invention or discovery. The examiner must presume the applicants are the proper inventors unless there is proof that another made the invention and that applicant derived the invention from the true inventor.

See MPEP §§ 2137 - 2137.02 for more information on the substantive requirements of rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f).

706.02(h)   Rejections Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA except in limited circumstances as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) bars the issuance of a patent where another made the invention in the United States before applicant and had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it. This section of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 forms a basis for interference practice. See MPEP Chapter 2300 for more information on interference procedure. See MPEP §§ 2138 - 2138.06 for more information on the requirements of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g).

706.02(i)   Form Paragraphs for Use in Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 102

The following form paragraphs should be used in making the appropriate rejections.

Note that the particular part of the reference relied upon to support the rejection should be identified.

¶ 7.06    Notice re prior art available under both pre-AIA and AIA

In the event the determination of the status of the application as subject to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103 (or as subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103) is incorrect, any correction of the statutory basis for the rejection will not be considered a new ground of rejection if the prior art relied upon, and the rationale supporting the rejection, would be the same under either status.  

Examiner Note:

  • 1.  This form paragraph must be used in all Office Actions when a prior art rejection is made in an application with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claims priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013.
  • 2.  This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in an Office action.

¶ 7.07.fti    Statement of Statutory Basis, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102

The following is a quotation of the appropriate paragraphs of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 that form the basis for the rejections under this section made in this Office action:

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless --

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The statute is no longer being re-cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits and final rejections. Where the statute is not being cited in an action on the merits, use form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. Form paragraphs 7.07.fti to 7.14.fti are to be used ONLY ONCE in a given Office action.
  • 3. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.07.aia    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 102

The following is a quotation of the appropriate paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. 102 that form the basis for the rejections under this section made in this Office action:

A person shall be entitled to a patent unless --

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The statute is no longer being re-cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits and final rejections. Where the statute is not being cited in an action on the merits, use form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. Form paragraphs 7.07.aia, 7.08.aia, 7.12.aia and 7.14.aia are to be used ONLY ONCE in a given Office action.
  • 3. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.08.aia    102(a)(1), Activity Before the Effective Filing Date of Claimed Invention

(a)(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.03.aia and 7.07.aia.

¶ 7.08.fti    Pre-AIA 102(a), Activity by Another Before Invention by Applicant

(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for a patent.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti.

¶ 7.09.fti    Pre-AIA 102(b), Activity More Than One Year Prior to Filing

(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of application for patent in the United States.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by form paragraph 7.08.fti.

¶ 7.10.fti    Pre-AIA 102(c), Invention Abandoned

(c) he has abandoned the invention.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti and 7.09.fti.

¶ 7.11.fti    Pre-AIA 102(d), Foreign Patenting

(d) the invention was first patented or caused to be patented, or was the subject of an inventor’s certificate, by the applicant or his legal representatives or assigns in a foreign country prior to the date of the application for patent in this country on an application for patent or inventor’s certificate filed more than twelve months before the filing of the application in the United States.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.10.fti.

¶ 7.12.fti    Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C 102(e), Patent Application Publication or Patent to Another with Earlier Filing Date, in view of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002

(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 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.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent or a publication of a U.S. application for patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a);
    • a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from, or a U.S. or WIPO publication of, an international application if the international application has an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000.
  • 2. In determining the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date, consider benefit claims to earlier-filed U.S. provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), U.S. nonprovisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 121, and international applications under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) if the subject matter used to make the rejection is appropriately supported in the relied upon earlier-filed application’s disclosure (and any intermediate application(s)). Do NOT consider foreign priority claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and 365(a).
  • 3. In order to rely on an international filing date for prior art purposes under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the international application must have been filed on or after November 29, 2000, it must have designated the U.S., and the international publication under PCT Article 21(2) by WIPO must have been in English. If any one of the conditions is not met, the international filing date is not a U.S. filing date for prior art purposes under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).
  • 4. If an international application was published by WIPO in a language other than English, or did not designate the U.S., the International Application’s publication by WIPO, the U.S. publication of the national stage application (35 U.S.C. 371) of the international application and a U.S. patent issued from the national stage of the international application may not be applied as a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The reference may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date. See form paragraphs 7.08.fti and 7.09.fti.
  • 5. If an international application was published by WIPO in a language other than English, or did not designate the U.S., the U.S. publication of, or a U.S. patent issued from, a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to such an international application, has a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date as of the earliest U.S. filing date after the international filing date.
  • 6. If the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, use form paragraph 7.12.01.fti. In that situation, pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is applicable in the determination of the prior art date of the patent issued from such an international application.
  • 7. If the reference is a publication of an international application (including the U.S. publication of a national stage (35 U.S.C. 371)) that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, do not use this form paragraph. Such a reference may not be applied as a prior art reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The reference may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date. See form paragraphs 7.08.fti and 7.09.fti.
  • 8. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.11.fti.

¶ 7.12.01.fti    Pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), Patent to Another with Earlier Filing Date, Reference is a U.S. Patent Issued Directly or Indirectly From a National Stage of, or a Continuing Application Claiming Benefit under 35 U.S.C. 365(c) to, an International Application Having an International Filing Date Prior to November 29, 2000

(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.

The changes made to 35 U.S.C. 102(e) by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 do not apply when the reference is a U.S. patent resulting directly or indirectly from an international application filed before November 29, 2000. Therefore, the prior art date of the reference is determined under 35 U.S.C. 102(e) prior to the amendment by the AIPA (pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000.
  • 2. If the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly from a national stage of such an international application, the reference’s pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date is the date that the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) were fulfilled. The language of WIPO publication (PCT) is not relevant in this situation. Caution: the international publication of the international application (PCT) by WIPO may have an earlier prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 102(b).
  • 3. If the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly from a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to such an international application (which had not entered the national stage prior to the continuing application’s filing date, otherwise see note 4), the prior art reference’s pre-AIPA35 U.S.C. 102(e) date is the actual U.S. filing date of the continuing application. Caution: the international publication of the international application (PCT) by WIPO may have an earlier prior art date under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or 102(b).
  • 4. In determining the pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date, consider benefit claims to earlier-filed U.S. provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), U.S. nonprovisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 121, and international applications under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) only if the subject matter used to make the rejection is appropriately supported in the relied upon earlier-filed application’s disclosure (and any intermediate application(s)). A benefit claim to a U.S. patent of an earlier-filed international application may only result in an effective U.S. filing date as of the date the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) were fulfilled. Do NOT consider any benefit claims to U.S. applications which are filed before an international application. Do NOT consider foreign priority claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and 365(a).
  • 5. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.11.fti.

¶ 7.12.aia    102(a)(2), U.S. Patent, U.S. Patent Application Publication or WIPO Published Application That Names Another Inventor and Has an Earlier Effective Filing Date

(a)(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued under section 151, or in an application for patent published or deemed published under section 122(b), in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.03.aia and 7.07.aia and may be preceded by 7.08.aia.
  • 3. This form paragraph should only be used if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent granted under 35 U.S.C. 151 having an effective filing date earlier than the application;
    • a U.S. Patent Application Publication published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) having an effective filing date earlier than the application; or
    • a WIPO publication of an international application where the WIPO publication has an effective filing date earlier than the application.

If any of these three types of prior art documents under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) was published before the effective filing date of the claims under examination, then the prior art document is also applicable under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).

¶ 7.13.fti    Pre-AIA 102(f), Applicant Not the Inventor

(f) he did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented.

Examiner Note:

  • This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.12.fti.

¶ 7.14.fti    Pre-AIA 102(g), Priority of Invention

(g)(1) during the course of an interference conducted under section 135 or section 291, another inventor involved therein establishes, to the extent permitted in section 104, that before such person’s invention thereof the invention was made by such other inventor and not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed, or (2) before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it. In determining priority of invention under this subsection, there shall be considered not only the respective dates of conception and reduction to practice of the invention, but also the reasonable diligence of one who was first to conceive and last to reduce to practice, from a time prior to conception by the other.

Examiner Note:

  • This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.fti, and may be preceded by one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.13.fti.

¶ 7.14.aia    Pre-AIA 102(g), Priority of Invention

(g)(1) during the course of an interference conducted under section 135 or section 291, another inventor involved therein establishes, to the extent permitted in section 104, that before such person’s invention thereof the invention was made by such other inventor and not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed, or (2) before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it. In determining priority of invention under this subsection, there shall be considered not only the respective dates of conception and reduction to practice of the invention, but also the reasonable diligence of one who was first to conceive and last to reduce to practice, from a time prior to conception by the other.

A rejection on this statutory basis (35 U.S.C. 102(g) as in force on March 15, 2013) is appropriate in an application or patent that is examined under the first to file provisions of the AIA if it also contains or contained at any time (1) a claim to an invention having an effective filing date as defined in 35 U.S.C. 100(i) that is before March 16, 2013 or (2) a specific reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to any patent or application that contains or contained at any time such a claim.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.07.aia.

¶ 7.15.fti    Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a), (b) Patent or Publication, and (g)

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102[2] as being [3] by [4].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert the appropriate paragraph letter or letters of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 in parentheses. If paragraph (e) of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 is applicable, use form paragraph 7.15.02.fti or 7.15.03.fti.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 3. In bracket 4, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 4. This rejection must be preceded either by form paragraph 7.07.fti and form paragraphs 7.08.fti, 7.09.fti, and 7.14.fti as appropriate, or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 5. If pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is also being applied, this form paragraph must be followed by either form paragraph 7.15.02.fti or 7.15.03.fti.
  • 6. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1)/102(a)(2)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102[2] as being [3] by [4].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert either “(a)(1)” or “(a)(2)” or both. If paragraph (a)(2) of 35 U.S.C. 102 is applicable, use form paragraph 7.15.01.aia, 7.15.02.aia or 7.15.03.aia where applicable.
  • 4. In bracket 3, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 5. In bracket 4, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 6. This rejection must be preceded either by form paragraph 7.07.aia and form paragraphs 7.08.aia, and 7.12.aia as appropriate, or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 7. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.01.fti    Provisional Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) - Common Assignee or At Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being anticipated by copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application.

Based upon the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4].

This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) might be overcome either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that any invention disclosed but not claimed in the copending application was derived from the inventor of this application and is thus not the invention “by another,” or by an appropriate showing under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application with an earlier filing date that discloses the claimed invention which has not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 2. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (form paragraph 7.12.fti) to determine the copending application reference’s prior art date, unless the copending application reference is based directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. If the copending application reference is either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (form paragraph 7.12.01.fti). See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 3. If the claims would have been obvious over the invention disclosed in the other copending application, use form paragraph 7.21.01.fti.
  • 4. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 5. In bracket 4, an appropriate explanation may be provided in support of the examiner’s position on anticipation, if necessary.
  • 6. If the claims of the copending application are directed to the same invention as the claims of the instant application, a provisional double patenting rejection should also be given using form paragraphs 8.30 and 8.32.
  • 7. If evidence is additionally of record to show that either invention is prior art unto the other under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g), a rejection using form paragraphs 7.13.fti and/or 7.14.fti should also be made.
  • 8. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013 that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.01.aia    Provisional Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) - Common Assignee or At Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being anticipated by copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application.

Based upon the earlier effective filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), if published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) or patented under 35 U.S.C. 151. This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4].

This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the copending application was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (3) a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) establishing that, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention were either owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

This rejection may not be overcome by the filing of a terminal disclaimer. See In re Bartfeld, 925 F.2d 1450, 17 USPQ2d 1885 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph is used to provisionally reject over a copending application with an earlier effective filing date that discloses the claimed invention which has not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122. The copending application must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor.
  • 3. 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) may be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent granted under 35 U.S.C. 151 that has an effective filing date earlier than the application;
    • a U.S. Patent Application Publication published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) that has an effective filing date earlier than the application; or
    • a WIPO publication of an international application where the WIPO publication has an effective filing date earlier than the application.

      If any of the three types of prior art documents under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) was published before the effective filing date of the application under examination, then the prior art document is also applicable under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).

  • 4. If the claims would have been obvious over the invention disclosed in the other copending application, use form paragraph 7.21.01.ai.
  • 5. In bracket 1, insert claim number(s) under rejection.
  • 6. In bracket 2, insert the application number.
  • 7. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 8. In bracket 4, provide an appropriate explanation of the examiner’s position on anticipation.
  • 9. If the claims of the copending application are directed to the same invention as the claims of the instant application, a provisional double patenting rejection should also be given using form paragraphs 8.30 and 8.32.
  • 10. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.02.fti    Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), Common Assignee or Inventor(s)

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being anticipated by [2].

The applied reference has a common [3] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). This rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) might be overcome either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that any invention disclosed but not claimed in the reference was derived from the inventor of this application and is thus not the invention “by another,” or by an appropriate showing under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to reject over a patent or patent application publication with an earlier filing date that discloses but does not claim the same invention. The patent or patent application publication must have either a common assignee or a common inventor.
  • 2. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (form paragraph 7.12.fti) must be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent or a publication of a U.S. application for patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a);
    • a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from, or a U.S. or WIPO publication of, an international application if the international application has an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000.

    See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.

  • 3. Pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (form paragraph 7.12.01.fti) must be applied if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application filed prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.
  • 4. In determining the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date, consider benefit claims to earlier-filed U.S. provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), U.S. nonprovisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 121, and international applications under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) if the subject matter used to make the rejection is appropriately supported in the relied upon earlier-filed application’s disclosure (and any intermediate application(s)). A benefit claim to a U.S. patent of an earlier-filed international application, which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, may only result in an effective U.S. filing date as of the date the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) were fulfilled. Do NOT consider any benefit claims to U.S. applications which are filed before an international application that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Do NOT consider foreign priority claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) - (d) and 365(a).
  • 5. If the reference is a publication of an international application (including voluntary U.S. publication under 35 U.S.C. 122 of the national stage or a WIPO publication) that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, did not designate the United States or was not published in English by WIPO, do not use this form paragraph. Such a reference is not a prior art reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The reference may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date. See form paragraphs 7.08.fti and 7.09.fti.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 7. This form paragraph must be preceded by either of form paragraphs 7.12.fti or 7.12.01.fti.
  • 8. Patent application publications may only be used if this form paragraph was preceded by form paragraph 7.12.fti.
  • 9. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.02.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), Common Assignee or Inventor(s)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being [2] by [3].

The applied reference has a common [4] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). This rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (3) a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) establishing that, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention were either owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph is used to reject claims under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) over a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO publication with an earlier effective filing date that discloses but does not claim the same invention. These references must have either a common assignee or a common inventor.
  • 3. 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) may be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent granted under 35 U.S.C. 151 that has an effective filing date earlier than the application;
    • a U.S. Patent Application Publication published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) that has an effective filing date earlier than the application; or
    • a WIPO publication of an international application where the WIPO publication has an effective filing date earlier than the application.

    If any of the three types of prior art documents under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) was published before the effective filing date of the application under examination, then the prior art document is also applicable under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).

  • 4. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 5. In bracket 2, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 7. In bracket 4, insert --assignee--, --applicant--, or --inventor--.
  • 8. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.12.aia.
  • 9. If the claims of the copending application are directed to the same invention as the claims of the instant application, a provisional double patenting rejection should also be given using form paragraphs 8.30 and 8.32.
  • 10. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.15.03.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), No Common Assignee or Inventor(s)

Claim[1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as being [2] by [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is used to reject over a patent or patent application publication with an earlier filing date that discloses but does not claim the same invention. The patent or patent application publication is not required to have a common assignee nor a common inventor.
  • 2. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) and the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (form paragraph 7.12.fti) must be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent or a publication of a U.S. application for patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a);
    • a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from, or a U.S. or WIPO publication of, an international application if the international application has an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000.

    See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.

  • 3. Pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (form paragraph 7.12.01.fti) must be applied if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application filed prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.
  • 4. In determining the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date, consider benefit claims to earlier-filed U.S. provisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), U.S. nonprovisional applications under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 121, and international applications under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) if the subject matter used to make the rejection is appropriately supported in the relied upon earlier-filed application’s disclosure (and any intermediate application(s)). A benefit claim to a U.S. patent of an earlier-filed international application, which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, may only result in an effective U.S. filing date as of the date the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c)(1), (2) and (4) were fulfilled. Do NOT consider any benefit claims to U.S. applications which are filed before an international application that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. Do NOT consider foreign priority claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) - (d) and 365(a).
  • 5. If the reference is a publication of an international application (including voluntary U.S. publication under 35 U.S.C. 122 of the national stage or a WIPO publication) that has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, did not designate the United States or was not published in English by WIPO, do not use this form paragraph. Such a reference is not a prior art reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The reference may be applied under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) as of its publication date. See form paragraphs 7.08.fti and 7.09.fti.
  • 6. In bracket 2, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 7. In bracket 3, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 8. This form paragraph must be preceded by either of form paragraphs 7.12.fti or 7.12.01.fti.
  • 9. Patent application publications may only be used if this form paragraph was preceded by form paragraph 7.12.fti.

¶ 7.15.03.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), No Common Assignee or Inventor(s)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) as being [2] by [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph is used to reject a claim over a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication or WIPO patent application publication with an earlier effective filing date that discloses but does not claim the same invention. The reference is not required to have a common assignee or inventor.
  • 3. 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) may be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent granted under 35 U.S.C. 151 that has an effective filing date earlier than the application;
    • a U.S. Patent Application Publication published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) that has an effective filing date earlier than the application; or
    • a WIPO publication of an international application where the WIPO publication has an effective filing date earlier than the application.

    If any of the three types of prior art documents under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) was published before the effective filing date of the application under examination, then the prior art document is also applicable under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).

  • 4. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 5. In bracket 2, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 7. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.12.aia.

¶ 7.16.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), Public Use or on Sale

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) based upon a public use or sale of the invention. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded either by form paragraphs 7.07.fti and 7.09.fti or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. A full explanation of the evidence establishing a public use or sale must be provided in bracket 2.

¶ 7.16.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), Public Use, On Sale, or Otherwise Publicly Available

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) based upon a public use or sale or other public availability of the invention. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded either by form paragraphs 7.07.aia and 7.08.aia or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 4. A full explanation of the evidence establishing a public use or sale or other public availability must be provided in bracket 2.

¶ 7.17.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c), Abandonment of Invention

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(c) because the invention has been abandoned. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded either by form paragraph 7.07.fti and 7.10.fti or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert a full explanation of the evidence establishing abandonment of the invention. See MPEP § 2134.

¶ 7.18.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d), Foreign Patenting

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) as being barred by applicants [2]. [3]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded either by form paragraphs 7.07.fti and 7.11.fti or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 3, insert an explanation of this rejection which must include appropriate dates and how they make the foreign patent available under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d).
  • 3. Refer to MPEP § 2135 for applicable pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(d) prior art.

¶ 7.19.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f), Applicant Not the Inventor

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) because the applicant did not invent the claimed subject matter. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph must be preceded either by paragraphs 7.07.fti and 7.13.fti or by paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert an explanation of the supporting evidence establishing that applicant was not the inventor. See MPEP § 2137.

¶ 7.17.aia    102(a)(1) Rejection Using Prior Art Excepted under 102(b)(2)(C)

Applicant has provided evidence in this file showing that the claimed invention and the subject matter disclosed in the prior art reference were owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entity as [1] not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, or the subject matter disclosed in the prior art reference was developed and the claimed invention was made by, or on behalf of one or more parties to a joint research agreement in effect not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention. However, although reference [2] has been disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), it is still applicable as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) that cannot be disqualified under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C).

Applicant may rely on the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A) to overcome this rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) by a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application, and is therefore not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). Alternatively, applicant may rely on the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) by providing evidence of a prior public disclosure via an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130(b).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be included following form paragraph 7.20.aia or 7.15.aia where the anticipation rejection is based on a reference that has been disqualified under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) but still qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).
  • 3. In bracket 1, identify the common assignee.
  • 4. In bracket 2, identify the reference which has been disqualified.

¶ 7.18.aia    Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 (g) as being [2] by [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used for an application or a patent that is being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia) and MUST contain or have contained a claim to an invention having an effective filing date as defined in 35 U.S.C. 100(i) that is before March 16, 2013 or a specific reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to any patent or application that contains or contained such a claim.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert either --clearly anticipated-- or --anticipated-- with an explanation at the end of the paragraph.
  • 4. In bracket 3, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 5. This rejection must be preceded either by form paragraph 7.14.aia, or by form paragraph 7.103.

706.02(j)   Contents of a 35 U.S.C. 103 Rejection

35 U.S.C. 103 authorizes a rejection where, to meet the claim, it is necessary to modify a single reference or to combine it with one or more other references. After indicating that the rejection is under 35 U.S.C. 103, the examiner should set forth in the Office action:

  • (A) the relevant teachings of the prior art relied upon, preferably with reference to the relevant column or page number(s) and line number(s) where appropriate,
  • (B) the difference or differences in the claim over the applied reference(s),
  • (C) the proposed modification of the applied reference(s) necessary to arrive at the claimed subject matter, and
  • (D) an explanation as to why the claimed invention would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made.

“To support the conclusion that the claimed invention is directed to obvious subject matter, either the references must expressly or impliedly suggest the claimed invention or the examiner must present a convincing line of reasoning as to why the artisan would have found the claimed invention to have been obvious in light of the teachings of the references.” Ex parte Clapp, 227 USPQ 972, 973 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1985).

Where a reference is relied on to support a rejection, whether or not in a minor capacity, that reference should be positively included in the statement of the rejection. See In re Hoch, 428 F.2d 1341, 1342 n.3 166 USPQ 406, 407 n. 3 (CCPA 1970).

It is important for an examiner to properly communicate the basis for a rejection so that the issues can be identified early and the applicant can be given fair opportunity to reply. Furthermore, if an initially rejected application issues as a patent, the rationale behind an earlier rejection may be important in interpreting the scope of the patent claims. Since issued patents are presumed valid (35 U.S.C. 282) and constitute a property right (35 U.S.C. 261), the written record must be clear as to the basis for the grant. Since patent examiners cannot normally be compelled to testify in legal proceedings regarding their mental processes (see MPEP § 1701.01), it is important that the written record clearly explain the rationale for decisions made during prosecution of the application.

See MPEP §§ 2141 - 2144.09 generally for guidance on patentability determinations under 35 U.S.C. 103, including a discussion of the requirements of Graham v. John Deere, 383 U.S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966). See MPEP § 2145 for consideration of applicant’s rebuttal arguments. See MPEP §§ 2154 and 2154.02 for a discussion of exceptions to prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(b). See MPEP § 2156 for a discussion of 35 U.S.C. 102(c) and references of joint researchers. See MPEP §§ 706.02(l) - 706.02(l)(3) for a discussion of prior art disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

706.02(k)   Provisional Rejection (Obviousness) Under 35 U.S.C. 103 Using Provisional Prior Art Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 2154 et seq. for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, rejections based on U.S. patent documents.]

I.   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Effective November 29, 1999, subject matter which was prior art under former 35 U.S.C. 103 via pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) was disqualified as prior art against the claimed invention if that subject matter and the claimed invention “were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.” This amendment to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) was made pursuant to section 4807 of the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA); see Pub. L. 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501, 1501A-591 (1999). 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 the exclusion under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended on November 29, 1999. Subsequently, the Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement Act of 2004 (CREATE Act) (Pub. L. 108-453, 118 Stat. 3596 (2004)) further 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 three conditions are met:

  • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
  • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
  • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement (hereinafter “joint research agreement disqualification”).

These changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) apply to all patents (including reissue patents) granted on or after December 10, 2004 and issuing from applications not subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note)). The amendment to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) made by the AIPA to change “subsection (f) or (g)” to “one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g)” applies to applications filed on or after November 29, 1999 that are not subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note).

For a reexamination proceeding of a patent granted prior to December 10, 2004, on an application filed on or after November 29, 1999, it is the 1999 changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) that are applicable to the disqualifying commonly assigned/owned prior art provisions of pre-AIA of 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) for additional information regarding disqualified prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). For a reexamination proceeding of a patent granted prior to December 10, 2004, on an application filed prior to November 29, 1999, neither the 1999 nor the 2004 changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) are applicable. Therefore, only prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g) used in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) may be disqualified under the commonly assigned/owned prior art provision of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

II.   PROVISIONAL OBVIOUSNESS REJECTION

Where two applications of different inventive entities are copending, not published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b), and the filing dates differ, a provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) should be made in the later filed application unless the application has been excluded under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3) for examination procedure with respect to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See also MPEP § 706.02(f) for examination procedure in determining when provisional rejections are appropriate. Otherwise the confidential status of unpublished application, or any part thereof, under 35 U.S.C. 122 must be maintained. Such a rejection alerts the applicant that he or she can expect an actual rejection on the same ground if one of the applications issues and also lets applicant know that action must be taken to avoid the rejection.

This gives applicant the opportunity to analyze the propriety of the rejection and possibly avoid the loss of rights to desired subject matter. Provisional rejections of the obviousness type under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) are rejections applied to copending applications having different effective filing dates wherein each application has a common assignee or a common inventor. The earlier filed application, if patented or published, would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The rejection can be overcome by:

  • (A) Arguing patentability over the earlier filed application;
  • (B) Combining the subject matter of the copending applications into a single application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 of the prior applications and abandoning the copending applications (Note that 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 if the earlier filed application does not contain a disclosure which complies with 35 U.S.C. 112 for the claim in the subsequently filed application. Studiengesellschaft Kohle m.b.H. v. Shell Oil Co., 112 F.3d 1561, 42 USPQ2d 1674 (Fed. Cir. 1997).);
  • (C) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 showing that any unclaimed invention disclosed in the copending application was derived from the inventor of the other application and is thus not invention “by another” (see MPEP §§ 715.01(a), 715.01(c), and 716.10);
  • (D) Filing an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(a) showing a date of invention prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the copending application. See MPEP § 715; or
  • (E) For an application that is pending on or after December 10, 2004, a showing that (1) the prior art and the claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person, or (2) the subject matter is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) (i.e., joint research agreement disqualification).

Where the applications are claiming interfering subject matter as defined in 37 CFR 41.203(a), a terminal disclaimer and an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(c) may be used to overcome a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 in a common ownership situation if the earlier filed application has been published or matured into a patent. See MPEP § 718.

If a provisional rejection is made and the copending applications are combined into a single application and the resulting single application is subject to a restriction requirement, the divisional application would not be subject to a provisional or actual rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 since the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 121 preclude the use of a patent issuing therefrom as a reference against the other application. Additionally, the resulting continuation-in-part is entitled to 35 U.S.C. 120 benefit of each of the prior applications. This is illustrated in Example 2, below.

The following examples are instructive as to the application of 35 U.S.C. 103 in applications filed prior to November 29, 1999 for which a patent was granted prior to December 10, 2004:

Example 1. Assumption: Employees A and B work for C, each with knowledge of the other’s work, and with obligation to assign inventions to C while employed.

SITUATIONS RESULTS
1. A invents X and later files application. This is permissible.
2. B modifies X to XY. B files application before A’s filing. No 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 102(g); provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection made in the later-filed application based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (the earlier-filed application). Provisional double patenting rejection made.
3. B’s patent issues. A’s claims rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and double patenting.
4. A files 37 CFR 1.131(c) affidavit to disqualify B’s patent as prior art where the interfering subject matter as defined in 37 CFR 41.203(a) is being claimed. Terminal disclaimer filed under 37 CFR 1.321(c). Rejection under 35 U.S.C.103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) may be overcome and double patenting rejection may be overcome if inventions X and XY are commonly owned and all requirements of 37 CFR 1.131(c) and 1.321 are met.

In situation (2.) above, the result is a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 made in the later-filed application based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). The rejection is provisional since the subject matter and the prior art are pending applications.

Example 2. Assumption: Employees A and B work for C, each with knowledge of the other’s work, and with obligation to assign inventions to C while employed.

SITUATIONS RESULTS
1. A invents X and files application. This is permissible.
2. B modifies X to XY after A’s application is filed. B files application establishing that A and B were both under obligation to assign inventions to C at the time the inventions were made. Provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection made in the later-filed application based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (the earlier-filed application) made; provisional double patenting rejection made; no 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 102(g) made.
3. A and B jointly file continuing application claiming priority to both their earlier applications and abandon the earlier applications. Assume it is proper that restriction be required between X and XY.
4. X is elected and patent issues on X with divisional application being timely filed on XY. No rejection of divisional application under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in view of 35 U.S.C. 121.

The following examples are instructive as to rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in applications that are pending on or after December 10, 2004:

Example 3. Assumption: Employees A and B work for C, each with knowledge of the other’s work, and with obligation to assign inventions to C while employed. Employee A’s application, which is pending on or after December 10, 2004, is being examined.

SITUATIONS RESULTS
1. A invents X and later files application. This is permissible.
2. B modifies X to XY. B files application before A’s filing. A files an application on invention X. Provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection made in the later-filed application based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (the earlier-filed application) and a provisional double patenting rejection are made.
3. B’s patent issues. A’s claims are rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and double patenting.
4. A files evidence of common ownership of inventions X and XY at the time invention XY was made to disqualify B’s patent as prior art. In addition, A files a terminal disclaimer under 37 CFR 1.321(c). Rejection of A’s claims under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) will be withdrawn and double patenting rejection will be obviated if inventions X and XY are commonly owned at the time invention XY was made and all requirements of 37 CFR 1.321 are met.

In situation (2.) above, the result is a provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 made in the later-filed application based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (the earlier-filed application). The rejection is provisional since the subject matter and the prior art are pending applications.

Example 4. Assumption: Employees A and B work for C, each with knowledge of the other’s work, and with obligation to assign inventions to C while employed. Employee B’s application, which is pending on or after December 10, 2004, is being examined.

SITUATIONS RESULTS
1. A invents X and files application. This is permissible.
2. B modifies X to XY after A’s application is filed. B files evidence establishing that A and B were both under obligation to assign inventions to C at the time the invention XY was made. Provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection of B’s claims based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (A's application) cannot be made; provisional double patenting rejection is made; no 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 102(g) made.
3. B files a terminal disclaimer under 37 CFR 1.321(c). The provisional double patenting rejection made in B’s application would be obviated if all requirements of 37 CFR 1.321 are met.

Example 5. Assumption: Employee A works for assignee I and Employee B works for assignee J. There is a joint research agreement, pursuant to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), between assignees I and J. Employees A and B each filed an application as set forth below. Employee B’s invention claimed in his application was made after the joint research agreement was entered into, and it was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint agreement. Employee B’s application discloses assignees I and J as the parties to the joint research agreement. Employee B’s application, which is pending on or after December 10, 2004, is being examined.

SITUATIONS RESULTS
1. A invents X and files application. This is permissible.
2. B modifies X to XY after A’s application is filed. B files evidence establishing a joint research agreement in compliance with pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). Provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection of B’s claims based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) (A's Application) cannot be made; provisional double patenting rejection is made; no 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 35 U.S.C. 102(g) made.
3. B files a terminal disclaimer under 37 CFR 1.321. The provisional double patenting rejection made in B’s application would be obviated if all requirements of 37 CFR 1.321 are met.

III.   EXAMINATION OF CONTINUING APPLICATION COMMONLY OWNED WITH ABANDONED PARENT APPLICATION TO WHICH BENEFIT IS CLAIMED UNDER 35 U.S.C. 120

An application claiming the benefit of a prior filed copending national or international application under 35 U.S.C. 120 must name as an inventor at least one inventor named in the prior filed application. The prior filed application must also disclose the named inventor’s invention claimed in at least one claim of the later filed application in the manner provided by 35 U.S.C. 112(a) for applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, or 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012. This practice contrasts with the practice in effect prior to November 8, 1984 (the date of enactment of Public Law 98-622) where the inventorship entity in each of the applications was required to be the same for benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120.

So long as the applications have at least one inventor in common and the other requirements are met, the Office will permit a claim for 35 U.S.C. 120 benefit without any additional submissions or notifications from applicants regarding inventorship differences.

In addition to the normal examination conducted by the examiner, he or she must examine the earlier filed application to determine if the earlier and later applications have at least one inventor in common and that the other 35 U.S.C. 120 and 37 CFR 1.78 requirements are met. The claim for 35 U.S.C. 120 benefit will be permitted without examination of the earlier application for disclosure and support of at least one claim of the later filed application under 35 U.S.C. 112 unless it becomes necessary to do so, for example, because of an intervening reference..

706.02(l)   Rejections Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Using Prior Art Under Only Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 (e), (f), or (g)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 717.02 et seq., 2154.02(c) and 2156 for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, commonly owned subject matter or a joint research agreement.]

35 U.S.C. 103 (pre-AIA)   Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

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  • (c)
    • (1) Subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) of section 102 of this title, shall not preclude patentability under this section where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) For purposes of this subsection, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if —
      • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
      • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (2), the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

It is important to recognize that pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) applies only to consideration of prior art for purposes of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103. It does not apply to or affect subject matter which is applied in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102 or a double patenting rejection. 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).

A patent applicant or patentee urging that subject matter is disqualified has the burden of establishing that the prior art is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). Absent proper evidence of disqualification, the appropriate rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) with applying prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) should be made. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(2) for information pertaining to establishing prior art exclusions due to common ownership or joint research agreements.

The term “subject matter” will be construed broadly, in the same manner the term is construed in the remainder of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103. The term “another” as used in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103 means any inventive entity other than the inventor and would include the inventor and any other persons. The term “developed” is to be read broadly and is not limited by the manner in which the development occurred. The term “commonly owned” means wholly owned by the same person(s) or organization(s) at the time the invention was made. The term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(2).

For a discussion of the three conditions of 35 U.S.C. 102(c) that must be satisfied for a claimed invention and subject matter disclosed which might otherwise qualify as prior art to be treated as having been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person in applying the joint research agreement provisions of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C), see MPEP § 2156.

  FOR APPLICATIONS FILED PRIOR TO NOVEMBER 29, 1999, AND GRANTED AS PATENTS PRIOR TO DECEMBER 10, 2004

Prior to November 29, 1999, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) provided that subject matter developed by another which qualifies as “prior art” only under subsections pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) is not to be considered when determining whether an invention sought to be patented is obvious under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103, provided the subject matter and the claimed invention were commonly owned at the time the invention was made. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) for information regarding when prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

For applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, and granted as patents prior to December 10, 2004, the subject matter that is disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) is strictly limited to subject matter that A) qualifies as prior art only under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g), and B) was commonly owned with the claimed invention at the time the invention was made. If the subject matter that qualifies as prior art only under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) was not commonly owned at the time of the invention, the subject matter is not disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect on December 9, 2004. See OddzOn Products, Inc. v. Just Toys, Inc., 122 F.3d 1396, 1403-04, 43 USPQ2d 1641, 1646 (Fed. Cir. 1997) (“We therefore hold that subject matter derived from another not only is itself unpatentable to the party who derived it under § 102(f), but, when combined with other prior art, may make a resulting obvious invention unpatentable to that party under a combination of §§ 102(f) and 103.”) Therefore, in these applications, information learned from or transmitted to persons outside the organization is not disqualified as prior art.

Inventors of subject matter not commonly owned at the time of the invention, but currently commonly owned, may file as joint inventors in a single application. However, the claims in such an application are not protected from a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g). Applicants in such cases have an obligation pursuant to 37 CFR 1.56 to point out the inventor and invention dates of each claim and the lack of common ownership at the time the later invention was made to enable the examiner to consider the applicability of a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g). The examiner will assume, unless there is evidence to the contrary, that applicants are complying with their duty of disclosure.

Foreign applicants will sometimes combine the subject matter of two or more related applications with different inventors into a single U.S. application naming joint inventors. The examiner will make the assumption, absent contrary evidence, that the applicants are complying with their duty of disclosure if no information is provided relative to invention dates and common ownership at the time the later invention was made. Such a claim for 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) priority based upon the foreign filed applications is appropriate and 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) priority can be accorded based upon each of the foreign filed applications.

For rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) using prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g) in applications pending on or after December 10, 2004, see MPEP § 706.02(l)(1).

706.02(l)(1)   Rejections Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) Using Prior Art Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g); Prior Art Disqualification Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) [R-11.2013]

35 U.S.C. 103 (pre-AIA)   Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 717.02 et seq., MPEP § 2154.02(c) and MPEP §2156 for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, commonly owned subject matter or a joint research agreement.]

*****

  • (c)
    • (1) Subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) of section 102 of this title, shall not preclude patentability under this section where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) For purposes of this subsection, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if —
      • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
      • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (2), the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

I.   COMMON OWNERSHIP OR ASSIGNEE PRIOR ART EXCLUSION UNDER PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)

Enacted on November 29, 1999, the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) added subject matter which was prior art under former 35 U.S.C. 103 via pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as disqualified prior art against the claimed invention if that subject matter and the claimed invention “were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.” The 1999 change to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) only applied to all utility, design and plant patent applications filed on or after November 29, 1999. The Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement Act of 2004 (CREATE Act), in part, redesignated the former 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(1) and made this provision effective to all applications in which the patent is granted on or after December 10, 2004, but the AIA provides that certain applications are subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103, see MPEP § 2159. Therefore, the provision of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C.103(c)(1) is effective for all applications pending on or after December 10, 2004, including applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, except those applications subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. In addition, this provision applies to all patent applications, including utility, design, plant and reissue applications, except those applications subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. The amendment to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(1) does not affect any application filed before November 29, 1999 and issued as a patent prior to December 10, 2004. The AIA provides that applications subject to the AIA prior art provisions are not subject to either the 1999 or 2004 changes, but are subject to 35 U.S.C. 102(c). See MPEP § 2159.

In a reexamination proceeding, however, one must look at whether or not the patent being reexamined was granted on or after December 10, 2004, and whether the patent is subject the current 35 U.S.C. 102 to determine whether pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), as amended by the CREATE Act, applies. For a reexamination proceeding of a patent granted prior to December 10, 2004, on an application filed on or after November 29, 1999, it is the 1999 changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) that are applicable to the disqualifying commonly assigned/owned prior art provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). For a reexamination proceeding of a patent granted prior to December 10, 2004, on an application filed prior to November 29, 1999, neither the 1999 nor the 2004 changes to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) are applicable. Therefore, only prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g) used in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) may be disqualified under the commonly assigned/owned prior art provisions of 35 U.S.C. 103(c). Similarly patents issued from applications subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 are not subject to either the 1999 or 2004 changes, but are subject to 35 U.S.C. 102(c). See MPEP § 2159.

For reissue applications, the doctrine of recapture may prevent the presentation of claims in the reissue applications that were amended or cancelled from the application which matured into the patent for which reissue is being sought, if the claims were amended or cancelled to overcome a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) which was not able to be excluded under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in the application that issued as a patent. If an examiner determines that this situation applies in the reissue application under examination, a consultation with the Office of Patent Legal Administration should be initiated via the Technology Center Quality Assurance Specialist.

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) applies only to prior art usable in an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103. Subject matter that qualifies as anticipatory prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 is not affected, and may still be used to reject claims as being anticipated. In addition, double patenting rejections, based on subject matter now disqualified as prior art in amended pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), should still be made as appropriate. See 37 CFR 1.78(c) and MPEP § 804. By contrast current 35 U.S.C. 102(c) operates to disqualify similar prior art from being applied in either an obviousness rejection or an anticipation rejection. See MPEP § 2156.

The burden of establishing that subject matter is disqualified as prior art is placed on applicant once the examiner has established a prima facie case of obviousness based on the subject matter. For example, the fact that the reference and the application have the same assignee is not, by itself, sufficient evidence to disqualify the prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). There must be a statement that the common ownership was “at the time the invention was made.”

See MPEP § 706.02(l)(2) for information regarding establishing common ownership. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3) for examination procedure with respect to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

II.   JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT DISQUALIFICATION UNDER PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) BY THE CREATE ACT

The CREATE Act (Pub. L. 108-453, 118 Stat. 3596 (2004)) was enacted on December 10, 2004, and is effective for applications for which the patent is granted on or after December 10, 2004, except those patents subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 and 35 U.S.C. 103. Specifically, the CREATE Act amended pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to provide that:

- subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 shall not preclude patentability under 35 U.S.C. 103 where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person;

- for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if
  • - the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made,
  • - the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement, and
  • - the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement;

- for purposes of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), the term “joint research agreement” means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, development, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

The effective date provision of the CREATE Act provided that its amendments shall apply to any patent (including any reissue patent) granted on or after December 10, 2004, except those patents subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. The CREATE Act also provided that its amendment shall not affect any final decision of a court or the Office rendered before December 10, 2004, and shall not affect the right of any party in any action pending before the Office or a court on December 10, 2004, to have that party’s rights determined on the basis of the provisions of title 35, United States Code, in effect on December 9, 2004. Since the CREATE Act also includes the amendment to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) made by section 4807 of the AIPA (see Pub. L. 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501, 1501A-591 (1999)), the change of “subsection (f) or (g)” to “one or more of subsections (e), (f), or (g)” in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) is now also applicable to applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, that were pending on December 10, 2004.

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. If the rejection is anticipation under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g), pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) cannot be relied upon to disqualify the subject matter in order to overcome or prevent the anticipation rejection. Likewise, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) cannot be relied upon to overcome or prevent a double patenting rejection. See 37 CFR 1.78(c) and MPEP § 804.

Because the CREATE Act applies only to patents granted on or after December 10, 2004, the recapture doctrine may prevent the presentation of claims in the reissue applications that had been amended or cancelled (e.g., to avoid a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based on subject matter that may now be disqualified under the CREATE Act) during the prosecution of the application which resulted in the patent being reissued.

706.02(l)(2)   Establishing Common Ownership or Joint Research Agreement Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP § 717.02 et seq., MPEP § 2154.02(c) and MPEP § 2156 for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, commonly owned subject matter or a joint research agreement.]

In order to be disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), the subject matter which would otherwise be prior art to the claimed invention and the claimed invention must be commonly owned, or subject to an obligation of assignment to a same person, at the time the claimed invention was made or be subject to a joint research agreement at the time the invention was made. See MPEP § 706.02(l) for rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or 102(g) and prior art disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in applications granted as patents prior to December 10, 2004. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) for rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), 102(f) or 102(g) and prior art disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

I.   DEFINITION OF COMMON OWNERSHIP

The term “commonly owned” is intended to mean that the subject matter which would otherwise be prior art to the claimed invention and the claimed invention are entirely or wholly owned by the same person(s) or organization(s)/business entity(ies). For purposes of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), common ownership must be at the time the claimed invention was made. If the person(s) or organization(s) owned less than 100 percent of the subject matter which would otherwise be prior art to the claimed invention, or less than 100 percent of the claimed invention, then common ownership would not exist. Common ownership requires that the person(s) or organization(s)/business entity(ies) own 100 percent of the subject matter and 100 percent of the claimed invention.

Specifically, if an invention claimed in an application is owned by more than one entity and those entities seek to exclude the use of a reference under 35 U.S.C. 103, then the reference must be owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entities that owned the application, at the time the later invention was made. For example, assume Company A owns twenty percent of patent Application X and Company B owns eighty percent of patent Application X at the time the invention of Application X was made. In addition, assume that Companies A and B seek to exclude the use of Reference Z under 35 U.S.C. 103. Reference Z must have been co-owned, or have been under an obligation of assignment to both companies, on the date the invention was made in order for the exclusion to be properly requested. A statement such as “Application X and Patent Z were, at the time the invention of Application X was made, jointly owned by Companies A and B” would be sufficient evidence of common ownership.

For applications owned by a joint venture of two or more entities, both the application and the reference must have been owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the joint venture at the time the invention was made. For example, if Company A and Company B formed a joint venture, Company C, both Application X and Reference Z must have been owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, Company C at the time the invention was made in order for Reference Z to be properly excluded as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). If Company A by itself owned Reference Z at the time the invention of Application X was made and Application X was owned by Company C on the date the invention was made, then a request for the exclusion of Reference Z as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) would not be proper.

As long as principal ownership rights to either the subject matter or the claimed invention reside in different persons or organizations common ownership does not exist. A license of the claimed invention to another by the owner where basic ownership rights are retained would not defeat ownership.

The requirement for common ownership at the time the claimed invention was made is intended to preclude obtaining ownership of subject matter after the claimed invention was made in order to disqualify that subject matter as prior art against the claimed invention.

The question of whether common ownership exists at the time the claimed invention was made is to be determined on the facts of the particular case in question. Actual ownership of the subject matter and the claimed invention by the same individual(s) or organization(s) or a legal obligation to assign both the subject matter and the claimed invention to the same individual(s) or organization(s)/business entity(ies) must be in existence at the time the claimed invention was made in order for the subject matter to be disqualified as prior art. A moral or unenforceable obligation would not evidence common ownership.

Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), an applicant’s admission that subject matter was developed prior to applicant’s invention would not make the subject matter prior art to applicant if the subject matter qualifies as prior art only under sections pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g), and if the subject matter and the claimed invention were commonly owned at the time the invention was made. See In re Fout, 675 F.2d 297, 213 USPQ 532 (CCPA 1982), for a decision involving an applicant’s admission which was used as prior art against their application. If the subject matter and invention were not commonly owned, an admission that the subject matter is prior art would be usable under 35 U.S.C. 103.

The burden of establishing that subject matter is disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) is intended to be placed and reside upon the person or persons urging that the subject matter is disqualified. For example, a patent applicant urging that subject matter is disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), would have the burden of establishing that it was commonly owned at the time the claimed invention was made. The patentee in litigation would likewise properly bear the same burden placed upon the applicant before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To place the burden upon the patent examiner or the defendant in litigation would not be appropriate since evidence as to common ownership at the time the claimed invention was made might not be available to the patent examiner or the defendant in litigation, but such evidence, if it exists, should be readily available to the patent applicant or the patentee.

In view of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), the Director has reinstituted in appropriate circumstances the practice of rejecting claims in commonly owned applications of different inventive entities on the grounds of double patenting. Such rejections can be overcome in appropriate circumstances by the filing of terminal disclaimers. This practice has been judicially authorized. See In re Bowers, 359 F.2d 886, 149 USPQ 57 (CCPA 1966). The use of double patenting rejections which then could be overcome by terminal disclaimers preclude patent protection from being improperly extended while still permitting inventors and their assignees to obtain the legitimate benefits from their contributions. See also MPEP § 804.

The following examples are provided for illustration only:

Example 1

Parent Company owns 100% of Subsidiaries A and B

- inventions of A and B are commonly owned by the Parent Company.

Example 2

Parent Company owns 100% of Subsidiary A and 90% of Subsidiary B

- inventions of A and B are not commonly owned by the Parent Company.

Example 3

If same person owns subject matter and invention at time invention was made, license to another may be made without the subject matter becoming prior art.

Example 4

Different Government inventors retaining certain rights (e.g. foreign filing rights) in separate inventions owned by Government precludes common ownership of inventions.

Example 5

Company A and Company B form joint venture Company C. Employees of A, while working for C with an obligation to assign inventions to C, invent invention #1; employees of B while working for C with an obligation to assign inventions to C, invent invention #2, with knowledge of #1.

Question: Are #1 and #2 commonly owned at the time the later invention was made so as to preclude a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g) in view of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103?

Answer: Yes- If the required evidence of common ownership is made of record in the patent application file. If invention #1 was invented by employees of Company A not working for Company C and Company A maintained sole ownership of invention #1 at the time invention #2 was made, inventions #1 and #2 would not be commonly owned as required by pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

Example 6

Company A owns 40% of invention #1 and 60% of invention #2, and Company B owns 60% of invention #1 and 40% of invention #2 at the time invention #2 was made.

-inventions #1 and #2 are commonly owned.

Example 7

Company B has a joint research project with University A. Under the terms of the joint research project, University A has agreed that all of its patents will be jointly owned by Company B and University A. Professor X, who works for University A, has an employee agreement with University A assigning all his patents only to University A. After the joint research project agreement is executed, University A files patent application #1 for the invention of Professor X, before Company B files patent application #2 on a similar invention.

- inventions #1 and #2 are commonly owned because Professor X’s obligation to assign patents to University A who has an obligation to assign patents to the A-B joint venture legally establishes Professor X’s obligation to assign patents to the A-B joint venture.

Example 8

Inventor X working at Company A invents and files patent application #1 on technology T, owned by Company A. After application #1 is filed, Company A spins off a 100% owned Subsidiary B for technology T including the transfer of the ownership of patent application #1 to Subsidiary B. After Subsidiary B is formed, inventor Y (formerly a Company A employee, but now an employee of Subsidiary B obligated to assign to Subsidiary B) jointly files application #2 with inventor X (now also an employee of Subsidiary B with an obligation to assign to Subsidiary B), which is directed to a possibly unobvious improvement to technology T.

- the inventions of applications #1 and #2 are commonly owned since Subsidiary B is a wholly owned subsidiary of Company A.

The examiner must examine the application as to all grounds except pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and (g) as they apply through 35 U.S.C. 103 only if the application file(s) establishes common ownership at the time the later invention was made. Thus, it is necessary to look to the time at which common ownership exists. If common ownership does not exist at the time the later invention was made, the earlier invention is not disqualified as potential prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and (g) as they apply through 35 U.S.C. 103. An invention is “made” when conception is complete as defined in Mergenthaler v. Scudder, 11 App. D.C. 264, 81 O.G. 1417, 1897 C.D. 724 (D.C. Cir. 1897); In re Tansel, 253 F.2d 241, 117 USPQ 188 (CCPA 1958). See Pfaff v. Wells Elecs., 525 U.S. 55, 119 S. Ct. 304, 312, 48 USPQ2d 1641, 1647 (1998) (“the invention must be ready for patenting . . . . by proof that prior to the critical date the inventor had prepared drawing or other descriptions of the invention that were sufficiently specific to enable a person skilled in the art to practice the invention.”) Common ownership at the time the invention was made for purposes of obviating a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), 102(f) or 102(g) may be established irrespective of whether the invention was made in the United States or abroad. The provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 104, however, will continue to apply to other proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, e.g. in an interference proceeding, with regard to establishing a date of invention by knowledge or use thereof, or other activity with respect thereto, in a foreign country, except the provisions do not apply to applications subject to the current 35 U.S.C. 102 as pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 104 was repealed effective March 16, 2013 The foreign filing date will continue to be used for interference purposes under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and 35 U.S.C. 365.

II.   EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO ESTABLISH COMMON OWNERSHIP

It is important to recognize just what constitutes sufficient evidence to establish common ownership at the time the invention was made. The common ownership must be shown to exist at the time the later invention was made. A statement of present common ownership is not sufficient. In re Onda, 229 USPQ 235 (Comm’r Pat. 1985).

The following statement is sufficient evidence to establish common ownership of, or an obligation for assignment to, the same person(s) or organizations(s) for purposes of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c):

Applications and references (whether patents, patent applications, patent application publications, etc.) will be considered by the examiner to be owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person, at the time the invention was made, if the applicant(s) or an attorney or agent of record makes a statement to the effect that the application and the reference were, at the time the invention was made, owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same person.

See “Guidelines Setting Forth a Modified Policy Concerning the Evidence of Common Ownership, or an Obligation of Assignment to the Same Person, as Required by 35 U.S.C. 103(c),” 1241 O.G. 96 (December 26, 2000). The applicant(s) or the representative(s) of record have the best knowledge of the ownership of their application(s) and reference(s), and their statement of such is sufficient evidence because of their paramount obligation of candor and good faith to the USPTO.

The statement concerning common ownership should be clear and conspicuous (e.g., on a separate piece of paper or in a separately labeled section) in order to ensure that the examiner quickly notices the statement. Applicants may, but are not required to, submit further evidence, such as assignment records, affidavits or declarations by the common owner, or court decisions, in addition to the above-mentioned statement concerning common ownership.

For example, an attorney or agent of record receives an Office action for Application X in which all the claims are rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) using Patent A in view of Patent B wherein Patent A is only available as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), and/or (g). In her response to the Office action, the attorney or agent of record for Application X states, in a clear and conspicuous manner, that:

“Application X and Patent A were, at the time the invention of Application X was made, owned by Company Z.”

This statement alone is sufficient evidence to disqualify Patent A from being used in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) against the claims of Application X.

In rare instances, the examiner may have independent evidence that raises a material doubt as to the accuracy of applicant’s representation of either (1) the common ownership of, or (2) the existence of an obligation to commonly assign, the application being examined and the applied U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication reference. In such cases, the examiner may explain why the accuracy of the representation is doubted, and require objective evidence of common ownership of, or the existence of an obligation to assign, the application being examined and the applied reference as of the date of invention of the application being examined. As mentioned above, applicant(s) may submit, in addition to the above-mentioned statement regarding common ownership, the following objective evidence:

  • (A) Reference to assignments recorded in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in accordance with 37 CFR Part 3 which convey the entire rights in the applications to the same person(s) or organization(s);
  • (B) Copies of unrecorded assignments which convey the entire rights in the applications to the same person(s) or organization(s) are filed in each of the applications;
  • (C) An affidavit or declaration by the common owner is filed which states that there is common ownership and states facts which explain why the affiant or declarant believes there is common ownership, which affidavit or declaration may be signed by an official of the corporation or organization empowered to act on behalf of the corporation or organization when the common owner is a corporation or other organization; and
  • (D) Other evidence is submitted which establishes common ownership of the applications.

III.   EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO ESTABLISH A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

Once an examiner has established a prima facie case of obviousness under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), the burden of overcoming the rejection by invoking the joint research agreement provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended by the CREATE Act is on the applicant or the patentee. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(3) defines a “joint research agreement” as a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention, that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention (under examination or reexamination) was made.

Like the common ownership or assignment provision, the joint research agreement must be shown to be in effect on or before the time the later invention was made. The joint research agreement may be in effect prior to the effective date (December 10, 2004) of the CREATE Act. In addition, the joint research agreement is NOT required to be in effect on or before the prior art date of the reference that is sought to be disqualified.

To overcome a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon subject matter (whether a patent document, publication, or other evidence) which qualifies as prior art under only one or more of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) via the CREATE Act, the applicant must comply with the statute and the rules of practice in effect.

37 C.F.R. 1.71   Detailed description and specification of the invention.

*****

  • (g)
    • (1) The specification may disclose or be amended to disclose the names of the parties to a joint research agreement as defined in § 1.9(e).
    • (2) An amendment under paragraph (g)(1) of this section must be accompanied by the processing fee set forth § 1.17(i) if not filed within one of the following time periods:
      • (i) Within three months of the filing date of a national application;
      • (ii) Within three months of the date of entry of the national stage as set forth in § 1.491 in an international application;
      • (iii) Before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits; or
      • (iv) Before the mailing of a first Office action after the filing of a request for continued examination under § 1.114.
    • (3) If an amendment under paragraph (g)(1) of this section is filed after the date the issue fee is paid, the patent as issued may not necessarily include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement. If the patent as issued does not include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement, the patent must be corrected to include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement by a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and § 1.323 for the amendment to be effective.

37 C.F.R. 1.104   Nature of examination.

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  • (c) Rejection of claims.

*****

  • (5)
    • (i) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application filed on or after November 29, 1999, or any patent issuing thereon, in an application filed before November 29, 1999, but pending on December 10, 2004, or any patent issuing thereon, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if the applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention, at the time the claimed invention was made, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (ii) Subject matter which qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, and a claimed invention in an application pending on or after December 10, 2004, or in any patent granted on or after December 10, 2004, will be treated as commonly owned for purposes of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, on the basis of a joint research agreement under 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2) in effect prior to March 16, 2013, if:
      • (A) The applicant or patent owner provides a statement to the effect that the subject matter and the claimed invention were made by or on behalf of the parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 100(h) and§ 1.9(e), which was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and that the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (B) The application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
  • (6) Patents issued prior to December 10, 2004, from applications filed prior to November 29, 1999, are subject to 35 U.S.C. 103(c) in effect on November 28, 1999.

*****

37 CFR 1.71(g) provides for the situation in which an application discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to a joint research agreement. 37 CFR 1.71(g)(1) specifically provides that the specification may disclose or be amended to disclose the name of each party to the joint research agreement because this information is required by 35 U.S.C. 102(c) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(2)(C).

37 CFR1.71(g)(2) provides that an amendment under 37 CFR1.71(g)(1) must be accompanied by the processing fee set forth in 37 CFR1.17(i) if it is not filed within one of the following time periods: (1) within three months of the filing date of a national application; (2) within three months of the date of entry of the national stage as set forth in 37 CFR 1.491 in an international application; (3) before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits; or (4) before the mailing of a first Office action after the filing of a request for continued examination under 37 CFR 1.114.

37 CFR 1.71(g)(3) provides that if an amendment under 37 CFR 1.71(g)(1) is filed after the date the issue fee is paid, the patent as issued may not necessarily include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement. 37 CFR 1.71(g)(3) also provides that if the patent as issued does not include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement, the patent must be corrected to include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement by a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323 for the amendment to be effective. The requirements of 37 CFR 1.71(g)(3) (correction of the patent by a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323) also apply in the situation in which such an amendment is not filed until after the date the patent was granted (in a patent granted on or after December 10, 2004). It is unnecessary to file a reissue application or request for reexamination of the patent to submit the amendment and other information necessary to take advantage of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended by the CREATE Act. See H.R. Rep. No. 108-425, at 9 (“[t]he omission of the names of parties to the agreement is not an error that would justify commencement of a reissue or reexamination proceeding”).

The submission of such an amendment remains subject to the rules of practice: e.g., 37 CFR 1.116, 1.121, and 1.312. For example, if an amendment under 37 CFR 1.71(g) is submitted in an application under final rejection to overcome a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon a U.S. patent which qualifies as prior art only under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the examiner may refuse to enter the amendment under 37 CFR 1.71(g) if it is not accompanied by an appropriate terminal disclaimer (37 CFR 1.321(d)). This is because such an amendment may necessitate the reopening of prosecution (e.g., for entry of a double patenting rejection).

If an amendment under 37 CFR 1.71(g) is submitted to overcome a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon a U.S. patent or U.S. patent application publication which qualifies as prior art only under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), and the examiner withdraws the rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), the examiner may need to issue an Office action containing a new double patenting rejection based upon the disqualified patent or patent application publication. In these situations, such Office action can be made final, provided that the examiner introduces no other new ground of rejection that was not necessitated by either amendment or an information disclosure statement filed during the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). The Office action is properly made final because the new double patenting rejection was necessitated by amendment of the application by applicant. This is the case regardless of whether the claims themselves have been amended.

In addition to amending the specification to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement, applicant must submit the required statement to invoke the prior art disqualification under the CREATE Act. 37 CFR 1.104(c)(4) sets forth the requirement for the statement, which includes a statement to the effect that the prior art and the claimed invention were made by or on the behalf of parties to a joint research agreement, within the meaning of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)(3), which was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and that the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement. The statement should either be on or begin on a separate sheet and must not be directed to other matters (37 CFR 1.4(c)). The statement must be signed in accordance with 37 CFR 1.33(b).

If the applicant disqualifies the subject matter relied upon by the examiner in accordance with pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended by the CREATE Act and the procedures set forth in the rules, the examiner will treat the application under examination and the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) prior art as if they are commonly owned for purposes of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

The following examples are provided for illustration only:

Example 1

Company A and University B have a joint research agreement (JRA) in place prior to the date invention X’ was made. Professor BB from University B communicates invention X to Company A. On November 12, 2004, University B filed a patent application on invention X. On December 13, 2004, Company A filed a patent application disclosing and claiming invention X’, which is an obvious variant of invention X. Invention X’ was made as a result of the activities undertaken within the scope of the JRA. University B retains ownership of invention X and Company A retains ownership of invention X’, without any obligation to assign the inventions to a common owner. Company A could invoke the joint research agreement provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to disqualify University B’s application as prior art in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

Example 2

Professor BB from University B communicates invention X to Company A. On November 12, 2004, University B filed a patent application on invention X. On December 13, 2004, Company A filed a patent application disclosing and claiming invention X’, which is an obvious variant of invention X. Company A and University B have a joint research agreement (JRA), which goes into effect on December 20, 2004. University B retains ownership of invention X and Company A retains ownership of invention X’, without any obligation to assign the inventions to a common owner. Company A could not invoke the joint research agreement provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to disqualify University B’s application as prior art in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) because the JRA was not in effect until after the later invention was made.

Example 3

Company A and University B have a joint research agreement (JRA) in place prior to the date invention X’ was made but the JRA is limited to activities for invention Y, which is distinct from invention X. Professor BB from University B communicates invention X to Company A. On November 12, 2004, University B filed a patent application on invention X. On December 13, 2004, Company A filed a patent application disclosing and claiming invention X’, which is an obvious variant of invention X. University B retains ownership of invention X and Company A retains ownership of invention X’, without any obligation to assign the inventions to a common owner. Company A could not invoke the joint research agreement provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) to disqualify University B’s application as prior art in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) because the claimed invention was not made as a result of the activities undertaken within the scope of the JRA.

706.02(l)(3)   Examination Procedure With Respect to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) [R-08.2012]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159. See MPEP §§ 717.02 et seq., 2154.02(c) and 2156 for the examination of applications subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA involving, inter alia, commonly owned subject matter or a joint research agreement.]

Examiners are reminded that a reference used in an anticipatory rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g) is not disqualified as prior art if evidence is provided to show that the reference is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). Generally, such a reference is only disqualified when

Applications and patents will be considered to be owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same person, at the time the invention was made, if the applicant(s) or an attorney or agent of record makes a statement to the effect that the application and the reference were, at the time the invention was made, owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same person(s) or organization(s). In order to overcome a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) based upon a reference which qualifies as prior art under only one or more of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f), or (g), via the CREATE Act, the applicant must comply with the statute and the rules of practice in effect.

See MPEP § 706.02(l)(2) for additional information pertaining to establishing common ownership.

I.   EXAMINATION OF APPLICATIONS OF DIFFERENT INVENTIVE ENTITIES WHERE COMMON OWNERSHIP OR A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED

If the application file being examined has not established that the reference is disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), the examiner will:

  • (A) assume the reference is not disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c);
  • (B) examine the application on all grounds other than any conflict between the reference patent(s) or application(s) arising from a possible 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and/or (g);
  • (C) consider the applicability of any references under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and/or (g), including provisional rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e); and
  • (D) apply the best references against the claimed invention by rejections under 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103, including any rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and/or (g), until such time that the reference is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). When applying any references that qualify as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 against the claims, the examiner should anticipate that the reference may be disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 706.02, subsection I. If a statement of common ownership or assignment is filed in reply to the 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based on prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and the claims are not amended, the examiner may not make the next Office action final if a new rejection is made. See MPEP § 706.07(a). If the reference is disqualified under the joint research agreement provision of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) and a new subsequent double patenting rejection based upon the disqualified reference is applied, the next Office action, which contains the new double patenting rejection, may be made final even if applicant did not amend the claims (provided that the examiner introduces no other new ground of rejection that was not necessitated by either amendment or an information disclosure statement filed during the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p)). The Office action is properly made final because the new double patenting rejection was necessitated by amendment of the application by applicant.

II.   EXAMINATION OF APPLICATIONS OF DIFFERENT INVENTIVE ENTITIES WHERE COMMON OWNERSHIP OR A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED

If the application being examined has established that the reference is disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) the examiner will:

  • (A) examine the applications as to all grounds, except pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) and (g) including provisional rejections based on provisional prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), as they apply through 35 U.S.C. 103;
  • (B) examine the applications for double patenting, including statutory and nonstatutory double patenting, and make a provisional rejection, if appropriate; and
  • (C) invite the applicant to file a terminal disclaimer to overcome any provisional or actual nonstatutory double patenting rejection, if appropriate (see 37 CFR 1.321).

III.   DOUBLE PATENTING REJECTIONS

Commonly owned applications of different inventive entities may be rejected on the ground of double patenting, even if the later filed application claims 35 U.S.C. 120 benefit to the earlier application. In addition, double patenting rejection may arise as a result of the amendment to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) by the CREATE Act (Pub. L. 108-453, 118 Stat. 3596 (2004)). Congress recognized that this amendment to 35 U.S.C. 103(c) would result in situations in which there would be double patenting rejections between applications not owned by the same party (see H.R. Rep. No. 108-425, at 5-6 (2003). For purposes of double patenting analysis, the application or patent and the subject matter disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as amended by the CREATE Act will be treated as if commonly owned.

A rejection based on a pending application would be a provisional rejection. The practice of rejecting claims on the ground of double patenting in commonly owned applications of different inventive entities is in accordance with existing case law and prevents an organization from obtaining two or more patents with different expiration dates covering nearly identical subject matter. See MPEP § 804 for guidance on double patenting issues. In accordance with established patent law doctrines, double patenting rejections can be overcome in certain circumstances by disclaiming, pursuant to the existing provisions of 37 CFR 1.321, the terminal portion of the term of the later patent and including in the disclaimer a provision that the patent shall be enforceable only for and during the period the patent is commonly owned with the application or patent which formed the basis for the rejection, thereby eliminating the problem of extending patent life. For a double patenting rejection based on a non-commonly owned patent (treated as if commonly owned pursuant to the CREATE Act), the double patenting rejection may be obviated by filing a terminal disclaimer in accordance with 37 CFR 1.321(d). See MPEP § 804 and § 804.02.

706.02(m)   Form Paragraphs for Use in Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 103

The following form paragraphs should be used in making the appropriate rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103.

¶ 7.06    Notice re prior art available under both pre-AIA and AIA

In the event the determination of the status of the application as subject to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103 (or as subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103) is incorrect, any correction of the statutory basis for the rejection will not be considered a new ground of rejection if the prior art relied upon, and the rationale supporting the rejection, would be the same under either status.  

Examiner Note:

  • 1.  This form paragraph must be used in all Office Actions when a prior art rejection is made in an application with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claims priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013.
  • 2.  This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in an Office action.  

¶ 7.20.fti    Statement of Statutory Basis, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a)

The following is a quotation of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103 (a) which forms the basis for all obviousness rejections set forth in this Office action:

(a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The statute is not to be cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits employing pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) and final rejections. Where the statute is being applied, but is not cited in an action on the merits, use paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in a given Office action.
  • 3. This form paragraph must precede form paragraphs 7.20.01.fti - 7.22.fti when this form paragraph is used to cite the statute in first actions and final rejections.

¶ 7.20.aia    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 103

The following is a quotation of 35 U.S.C. 103 which forms the basis for all obviousness rejections set forth in this Office action:

A patent for a claimed invention may not be obtained, notwithstanding that the claimed invention is not identically disclosed as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. The statute is not to be cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits employing 35 U.S.C. 103 and final rejections. Where the statute is being applied, but is not cited in an action on the merits, use paragraph 7.103.
  • 3. This form paragraph should only be used ONCE in a given Office action.
  • 4. This form paragraph must precede any of form paragraphs 7.20.01.aia, 7.20.02.aia, 7.20.04.aia, 7.20.05.aia, 7.21.aia, 7.21.01.aia, 7.21.02.aia, and 7.22.aia when this form paragraph is used to cite the statute in first actions and final rejections.

¶ 7.20.01.fti    Pre-AIA 103(a) Rejection Using Prior Art Under Pre-AIA 102(e), (f), or (g) That Is Not Disqualified Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) Because Reference Is Prior Art Under Another Subsection of Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102

Applicant has provided evidence in this file showing that the invention was owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entity as [1] at the time this invention was made, or was subject to a joint research agreement at the time this invention was made. However, reference [2] qualifies as prior art under another subsection of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102, and therefore is not disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

Applicant may overcome the applied art either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the invention disclosed therein was derived from the inventor of this application, and is therefore, not the invention “by another,” or by antedating the applied art under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be included following form paragraph 7.20.fti in all actions containing rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) using art that is disqualified under pre-AIA 103(c) using pre-AIA 102(e), (f), or (g), but which qualifies under another section of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.
  • 2. In bracket 1, identify the common assignee.
  • 3. In bracket 2, identify the reference which has been disqualified.

¶ 7.20.01.aia    103 Rejection Using Prior Art Excepted Under 102(b)(2)(C) Because Reference is Prior Art Under 102(a)(1)

Applicant has provided evidence in this file showing that the claimed invention and the subject matter disclosed in the prior art reference were owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entity as [1] not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, or the subject matter disclosed in the prior art reference was developed and the claimed invention was made by, or on behalf of one or more parties to a joint research agreement not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention. However, although reference [2] has been disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), it is still applicable as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) that cannot be disqualified under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C).

Applicant may overcome this rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) by a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application, and is therefore, not prior art as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A). Alternatively, applicant may rely on the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) by providing evidence of a prior public disclosure via an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130(b).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be included following form paragraph 7.20.aia or 7.15.aia where the 103 rejection is based on a reference that has since been disqualified under 102(b)(2)(C), but still qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1).
  • 3. In bracket 1, identify the common assignee.
  • 4. In bracket 2, identify the reference which has been disqualified.

¶ 7.20.02.fti    Joint Inventors, Common Ownership Presumed

This application currently names joint inventors. In considering patentability of the claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), the examiner presumes that the subject matter of the various claims was commonly owned at the time any inventions covered therein were made absent any evidence to the contrary. Applicant is advised of the obligation under 37 CFR 1.56 to point out the inventor and invention dates of each claim that was not commonly owned at the time a later invention was made in order for the examiner to consider the applicability of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) and potential pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), (f) or (g) prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a).

Examiner Note:

  • This paragraph must be used in all applications with joint inventors (unless the claims are clearly restricted to only one claimed invention, e.g., only a single claim is presented in the application).

¶ 7.20.02.aia    Joint Inventors, Common Ownership Presumed

This application currently names joint inventors. In considering patentability of the claims the examiner presumes that the subject matter of the various claims was commonly owned at the time any inventions covered therein were effectively filed absent any evidence to the contrary. Applicant is advised of the obligation under 37 CFR 1.56 to point out the inventor and effective filing dates of each claim that was not commonly owned at the time a later invention was effectively filed in order for the examiner to consider the applicability of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) for any potential 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) prior art against the later invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This paragraph must be used in all applications with joint inventors (unless the claims are clearly restricted to only one claimed invention, e.g., only a single claim is presented in the application).

¶ 7.20.04.fti    Pre-AIA 103(a) Rejection Using Prior Art Under Pre-AIA 102(e), (f), or (g) That Is Attempted To Be Disqualified Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) Using the Common Ownership or Assignment Provision

Applicant has attempted to disqualify reference [1] under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) by showing that the invention was owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entity as [2] at the time this invention was made. However, applicant has failed to provide a statement that the application and the reference were owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same person at the time the invention was made in a conspicuous manner, and therefore, is not disqualified as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a). Applicant must file the required evidence in order to properly disqualify the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See MPEP § 706.02(l).

In addition, applicant may overcome the applied art either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the invention disclosed therein was derived from the inventor of this application, and is therefore not the invention “by another,” or by antedating the applied art under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be included in all actions containing rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) where an attempt has been made to disqualify the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), but where the applicant has not provided a proper statement indicating common ownership or assignment at the time the invention was made.
  • 2. In brackets 1 and 2, identify the commonly owned applied art (e.g., patent or co-pending application).

¶ 7.20.04.aia    102 or 103 Rejection Using Prior Art Under 102(a)(2) That Is Attempted To Be Disqualified Under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) Using the Common Ownership or Assignment Provision

Applicant has attempted to disqualify reference [1] under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) by showing that the claimed invention was owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same entity as [2] at the time the claimed invention was effectively filed. However, applicant has failed to provide a statement that the claimed invention and the subject matter disclosed were owned by, or subject to an obligation of assignment to, the same person no later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention in a conspicuous manner, and therefore, is not disqualified as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Applicant must file the required evidence in order to properly disqualify the reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C). See generally MPEP § 706.02(l).

In addition, applicant may rely upon the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A)to overcome the rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application, and is therefore not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Alternatively, applicant may rely on the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) by providing evidence of a prior public disclosure via an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130(b).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph should be included in all actions containing rejections using 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) prior art, in anticipation rejections or obviousness rejections, where an attempt has been made to disqualify the reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C), but where the applicant has not provided a proper statement indicating common ownership or assignment not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention.
  • 3. In bracket 1, identify the commonly owned applied art (e.g., patent or co-pending application).
  • 4. In bracket 2, identify the common assignee

¶ 7.20.05.fti    Pre-AIA 103(a) Rejection Using Prior Art Under Pre-AIA 102(e), (f), or (g) That Is Attempted To Be Disqualified Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) Using the Joint Research Agreement Provisions

Applicant has attempted to disqualify reference [1] under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) by showing that the invention was subject to a joint research agreement at the time this invention was made. However, applicant has failed to [2]. Applicant must file the missing requirements in order to properly disqualify the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c). See 37 CFR 1.71(g) and 1.104(c) and MPEP § 706.02(l).

In addition, applicant may overcome the applied art either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that the invention disclosed therein was derived from the inventor of this application, and is therefore, not the invention “by another,” or by antedating the applied art under 37 CFR 1.131(a).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be included in all actions containing rejections under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) where an attempt has been made to disqualify the reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) using the joint research agreement provisions but the disqualification attempt is ineffective.
  • 2. In bracket 1, identify the reference which is sought to be disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).
  • 3. In bracket 2, identify the reason(s) why the disqualification attempt is ineffective. The reason(s) could be noncompliance with the statutory requirements of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) or rule requirements relating to the CREATE Act, such as failure to submit the required statement or failure to amend the specification to include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement. See 37 CFR 1.104(c)(5)(ii).

¶ 7.20.05.aia    102 or 103 Rejection Using Prior Art Under 102(a)(2) That Is Attempted To Be Disqualified Under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) Using the Joint Research Agreement Provisions of 35 U.S.C. 102(c)

Applicant has attempted to disqualify reference [1] under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) by showing that the claimed invention was subject to a joint research agreement in effect not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention. However, applicant has failed to [2]. Applicant must file the missing requirements in order to properly disqualify the reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C). See 37 CFR 1.71(g)(1) and 1.104(c)(4)(ii).

In addition, applicant may overcome the rejection either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained, either directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application, and is therefore, not prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Alternatively, applicant may rely on the exception under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) by providing evidence of a prior public disclosure via an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130(b).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be included in all actions containing obviousness or anticipation rejections where an attempt has been made to disqualify the 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) prior art reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) using the joint research agreement provisions but the disqualification attempt is ineffective.
  • 3. In bracket 1, identify the reference which is sought to be disqualified via 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C).
  • 4. In bracket 2, identify the reason(s) why the disqualification attempt is ineffective. The reason(s) could be noncompliance with the statutory requirements of 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) or rule requirements relating to the CREATE Act, such as failure to submit the required statement or failure to amend the specification to include the names of the parties to the joint research agreement. See 37 CFR 1.71(g)(1) and 1.104(c)(4)(ii).

¶ 7.21.fti    Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a)

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph must be preceded by either form paragraph 7.20.fti or form paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. An explanation of the rejection applying the Graham v. Deere test must follow this form paragraph
  • 3. If the rejection relies upon prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. In other words, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000 or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 4. If the applicability of this rejection (e.g., the availability of the prior art as a reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)) prevents the reference from being disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), form paragraph 7.20.01.fti must follow this form paragraph.
  • 5. If this rejection is a provisional pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) rejection based upon a copending application that would comprise prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) if patented or published, use form paragraph 7.21.01.fti instead of this paragraph.
  • 6. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 7. In bracket 2, insert the prior art relied upon.

¶ 7.21.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 103

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable over [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by either form paragraph 7.20.aia or form paragraph 7.103.
  • 3. An explanation of the rejection applying the Graham v. Deere test must follow this form paragraph.
  • 4. If this rejection is a provisional 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection based upon a copending application that would comprise prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if patented or published, use form paragraph 7.21.01.aia instead of this paragraph.
  • 5. In bracket 1, insert the claim numbers which are under rejection.
  • 6. In bracket 2, insert the prior art relied upon.
  • 7. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.21.01.fti    Provisional Rejection, Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), Common Assignee or at Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) if published or patented. This provisional rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4]

This provisional rejection might be overcome either by a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that any invention disclosed but not claimed in the copending application was derived from the inventor of this application and is thus not the invention “by another,” or by a showing of a date of invention for the instant application prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the copending application under 37 CFR 1.131(a). This rejection might also be overcome by showing that the copending application is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as prior art in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a). See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph is used to provisionally reject claims not patentably distinct from the disclosure in a copending application having an earlier U.S. filing date and also having either a common assignee or at least one common inventor. This form paragraph should not be used in applications pending on or after December 10, 2004, when the copending application is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as prior art in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) rejection. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3).
  • 2. Use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) to determine the copending application reference’s prior art date, unless the copending application reference is based directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. If the copending application reference is either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) to determine the copending application reference’s prior art date. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 3. If the claimed invention is fully disclosed in the copending application, use paragraph 7.15.01.fti.
  • 4. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) which is/are under rejection.
  • 5. In bracket 2, insert the application number.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 7. In bracket 4, insert explanation of obviousness.
  • 8. If the claimed invention is not patentably distinct from the invention claimed in the copending application, a provisional obviousness double patenting rejection should additionally be made using form paragraphs 8.33 and 8.37.
  • 9. If evidence indicates that the copending application is also prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) or (g) and the copending application has not been disqualified as prior art in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) rejection pursuant to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c), a rejection should additionally be made under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) using form paragraph 7.21.fti (e.g., applicant has named the prior inventor in response to a requirement made using form paragraph 8.28.fti).

¶ 7.21.01.aia    Provisional Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 103, Common Assignee or at Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] provisionally rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being obvious over copending Application No. [2] which has a common [3] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective filing date of the copending application, it would constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) if published or patented. This provisional rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 is based upon a presumption of future publication or patenting of the copending application. [4]

This provisional rejection might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the copending application was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (3) a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) establishing that, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention either were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement. See generally MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and MPEP § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This paragraph is used to provisionally reject claims not patentably distinct from the disclosure in a copending application having an earlier filing date and also having either a common assignee or applicant, or at least one common inventor.
  • 3. If the claimed invention is fully disclosed in the copending application, use form paragraph 7.15.01.aia.
  • 4. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) which is/are under rejection.
  • 5. In bracket 2, insert the application number.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 7. In bracket 4, insert an explanation of obviousness in accordance with Graham v. Deere.
  • 8. If the claimed invention is not patentably distinct from the invention claimed in the copending application, a provisional obviousness double patenting rejection should additionally be made using form paragraphs 8.33 and 8.37.

¶ 7.21.02.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), Common Assignee or at Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being obvious over [2].

The applied reference has a common [3] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective U.S. filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). This rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.132 that any invention disclosed but not claimed in the reference was derived from the inventor of this application and is thus not an invention “by another”; (2) a showing of a date of invention for the claimed subject matter of the application which corresponds to subject matter disclosed but not claimed in the reference, prior to the effective U.S. filing date of the reference under 37 CFR 1.131(a); or (3) an oath or declaration under 37 CFR 1.131(c) stating that the application and reference are currently owned by the same party and that the inventor named in the application is the prior inventor under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 104 as in effect on March 15, 2013, together with a terminal disclaimer in accordance with 37 CFR 1.321(c). This rejection might also be overcome by showing that the reference is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as prior art in a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a). See MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2). [4]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph is used to reject over a reference (patent or published application) with an earlier filing date that discloses the claimed invention, and that only qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). If the reference qualifies as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b), then this form paragraph should not be used (form paragraph 7.21.fti should be used instead). The reference must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor. This form paragraph should not be used in applications when the reference is disqualified under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) as prior art in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) rejection. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3).
  • 2. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) must be applied if the reference is one of the following:
    • a U.S. patent or a publication of a U.S. application for patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a);
    • a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from, or a U.S. or WIPO publication of, an international application if the international application has an international filing date on or after November 29, 2000.

      See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.

  • 3. Pre-AIPA35 U.S.C. 102(e) must be applied if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application filed prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraph 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the pre-AIPA35 U.S.C. 102(e) date of the reference.
  • 4. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) which is/are under rejection.
  • 5. In bracket 2, insert the prior art reference(s) relied upon for the obviousness rejection.
  • 6. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 7. In bracket 4, insert explanation of obviousness.

¶ 7.21.02.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 103, Common Assignee or at Least One Common Inventor

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being obvious over [2].

The applied reference has a common [3] with the instant application. Based upon the earlier effective filing date of the reference, it constitutes prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). [4]

This rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 might be overcome by: (1) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(a) that the subject matter disclosed in the reference was obtained directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor of this application and is thus not prior art in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(A); (2) a showing under 37 CFR 1.130(b) of a prior public disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B); or (3) a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) establishing that, not later than the effective filing date of the claimed invention, the subject matter disclosed and the claimed invention were either owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person or subject to a joint research agreement. See generally MPEP § 706.02(l)(1) and § 706.02(l)(2).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This paragraph is used to reject over a reference (patent or published application) with an earlier filing date that discloses the claimed invention, and that ONLY qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). If the reference qualifies as prior art under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), then this form paragraph should not be used (form paragraph 7.21.aia should be used instead). The reference must have either a common assignee or at least one common inventor. This form paragraph should not be used in applications when the reference is disqualified under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) as prior art in a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection.
  • 3. In bracket 3, insert either --assignee-- or --inventor--.
  • 4. In bracket 4, insert an explanation of obviousness in accordance with Graham v. Deere.

¶ 7.22.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), Further in View Of

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as being unpatentable over [2] as applied to claim [3] above, and further in view of [4].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.21.fti.
  • 2. An explanation of the rejection applying the Graham v. Deere test must follow this form paragraph.
  • 3. If the rejection relies upon prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. In other words, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000 or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.

¶ 7.22.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 103, Further in View Of

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable over [2] as applied to claim [3] above, and further in view of [4].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.21.aia.
  • 3. An explanation of the rejection applying the Graham v. Deere test must follow this form paragraph.

¶ 7.23.fti    Graham v. Deere, Test for Obviousness

The factual inquiries set forth in Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), that are applied for establishing a background for determining obviousness under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) are summarized as follows:

1. Determining the scope and contents of the prior art.

2. Ascertaining the differences between the prior art and the claims at issue.

3. Resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art.

4. Considering objective evidence present in the application indicating obviousness or nonobviousness.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph may be used, if appropriate, in response to an argument regarding the applicability of the Graham v. Deere factors.

¶ 7.23.aia    Graham v. Deere, Test for Obviousness

The factual inquiries set forth in Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 148 USPQ 459 (1966), that are applied for establishing a background for determining obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103 are summarized as follows:

1.Determining the scope and contents of the prior art.

2.Ascertaining the differences between the prior art and the claims at issue.

3.Resolving the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art.

4.Considering objective evidence present in the application indicating obviousness or nonobviousness.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph may be used, if appropriate, in response to an argument regarding the applicability of the Graham v. Deere factors.

¶ 7.27.fti    Rejection, pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or pre-AIA 103(a)

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 ([2]) as anticipated by or, in the alternative, under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) as obvious over [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is NOT intended to be commonly used as a substitute for a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 . In other words, a single rejection under either pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) should be made whenever possible using appropriate form paragraphs 7.15.fti to 7.19.fti, 7.21.fti and 7.22.fti. Examples of circumstances where this paragraph may be used are as follows:
    • When the interpretation of the claim(s) is or may be in dispute, i.e., given one interpretation, a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 is appropriate and given another interpretation, a rejection under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a) is appropriate. See MPEP § 2111- 2116.01 for guidelines on claim interpretation.
    • When the reference discloses all the limitations of a claim except a property or function, and the examiner cannot determine whether or not the reference inherently possesses properties which anticipate or render obvious the claimed invention but has basis for shifting the burden of proof to applicant as in In re Fitzgerald, 619 F.2d 67, 205 USPQ 594 (CCPA 1980). See MPEP § 2112 - 2112.02.
    • When the reference teaches a small genus which places a claimed species in the possession of the public as in In re Schaumann, 572 F.2d 312, 197 USPQ 5 (CCPA 1978), and the species would have been obvious even if the genus were not sufficiently small to justify a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102. See MPEP § 2131.02 and 2144.08 for more information on anticipation and obviousness of species by a disclosure of a genus.
    • When the reference teaches a product that appears to be the same as, or an obvious variant of, the product set forth in a product-by-process claim although produced by a different process. See In re Marosi, 710 F.2d 799, 218 USPQ 289 (Fed. Cir. 1983) and In re Thorpe, 777 F.2d 695, 227 USPQ 964 (Fed. Cir. 1985). See also MPEP § 2113.
    • When the reference teaches all claim limitations except a means plus function limitation and the examiner is not certain whether the element disclosed in the reference is an equivalent to the claimed element and therefore anticipatory, or whether the prior art element is an obvious variant of the claimed element. See MPEP § 2183 - 2184.
    • When the ranges disclosed in the reference and claimed by applicant overlap in scope but the reference does not contain a specific example within the claimed range. See the concurring opinion in Ex parte Lee, 31 USPQ2d 1105 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993). See MPEP § 2131.03.
  • 2. If the interpretation of the claim(s) renders the claim(s) indefinite, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd paragraph, may be appropriate.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the claim number(s) which is/are under rejection.
  • 4. In bracket 2, insert the appropriate paragraph letter(s) in parenthesis.
  • 5. In bracket 3, insert the prior art reference(s) relied upon for the rejection.
  • 6. A full explanation should follow this form paragraph.
  • 7. If the rejection relies upon prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), use pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as amended by the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) to determine the reference’s prior art date, unless the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly, or indirectly, from an international application which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. In other words, use pre-AIPA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) only if the reference is a U.S. patent issued directly or indirectly from either a national stage of an international application (application under 35 U.S.C. 371) which has an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000, or a continuing application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to an international application having an international filing date prior to November 29, 2000. See the Examiner Notes for form paragraphs 7.12.fti and 7.12.01.fti to assist in the determination of the reference’s 35 U.S.C. 102(e) date.
  • 8. This form paragraph must be preceded by 7.07.fti, one or more of form paragraphs 7.08.fti to 7.14.fti as appropriate, and form paragraph 7.20.fti or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 9. For applications with an actual filing date on or after March 16, 2013, that claim priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.27.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 102 or 103

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 102([2]) as anticipated by or, in the alternative, under 35 U.S.C. 103 as obvious over [3].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph is NOT intended to be commonly used as a substitute for a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102. In other words, a single rejection under either 35 U.S.C. 102 or 35 U.S.C. 103 should be made whenever possible. Examples of circumstances where this paragraph may be used are as follows:
    • When the interpretation of the claim(s) is or may be in dispute, i.e., given one interpretation, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102 is appropriate and given another interpretation, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 is appropriate. See MPEP § 2111- 2116.01 for guidelines on claim interpretation.
    • When the reference discloses all the limitations of a claim except a property or function, and the examiner cannot determine whether or not the reference inherently possesses properties which anticipate or render obvious the claimed invention but has basis for shifting the burden of proof to applicant as in In re Fitzgerald, 619 F.2d 67, 205 USPQ 594 (CCPA 1980). See MPEP § 2112 - 2112.02.
    • When the reference teaches a small genus which places a claimed species in the possession of the public as in In re Schaumann, 572 F.2d 312, 197 USPQ 5 (CCPA 1978), and the species would have been obvious even if the genus were not sufficiently small to justify a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 102. See MPEP § 2131.02 and 2144.08 for more information on anticipation and obviousness of species by a disclosure of a genus.
    • When the reference teaches a product that appears to be the same as, or an obvious variant of, the product set forth in a product-by-process claim although produced by a different process. See In re Marosi, 710 F.2d 799, 218 USPQ 289 (Fed. Cir. 1983) and In re Thorpe, 777 F.2d 695, 227 USPQ 964 (Fed. Cir. 1985). See also MPEP § 2113.
    • When the reference teaches all claim limitations except a means plus function limitation and the examiner is not certain whether the element disclosed in the reference is an equivalent to the claimed element and therefore anticipatory, or whether the prior art element is an obvious variant of the claimed element. See MPEP § 2183 - 2184.
    • When the ranges disclosed in the reference and claimed by applicant overlap in scope but the reference does not contain a specific example within the claimed range. See the concurring opinion in Ex parte Lee, 31 USPQ2d 1105 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1993). See MPEP § 2131.03.
  • 3. If the interpretation of the claim(s) renders the claim(s) indefinite, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) may be appropriate.
  • 4. In bracket 2, insert the appropriate paragraph letter(s) in parenthesis.
  • 5. A full explanation must follow this form paragraph, i.e., the examiner must provide an explanation of how the claims at issue could be considered to be anticipated, as well as how they could be considered to be obvious.
  • 6. This form paragraph must be preceded by 7.07.aia and 7.08.aia and/or 7.12.aia or by form paragraph 7.103.
  • 7. For applications claiming priority to, or the benefit of, an application filed before March 16, 2013, this form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.06.

¶ 7.06.01    Claim Limitation Relating to a Tax Strategy Deemed To Be Within the Prior Art under 35 U.S.C. 102 and/or 103

Claim limitation “[1]” has been interpreted as a strategy for reducing, avoiding, or deferring tax liability (“tax strategy”) pursuant to Section 14 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Accordingly, this claim limitation is being treated as being within the prior art and is insufficient to differentiate the invention of claim [2] from the prior art.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, recite the claim limitation that relates to a tax strategy. For more information see MPEP § 2124.01.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert claim number(s), pluralize “claim” as appropriate.

706.02(n)   Biotechnology Process Applications; pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b)

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA as explained in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) and MPEP § 2159.]

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103   Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

*****

  • (b)
    • (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), and upon timely election by the applicant for patent to proceed under this subsection, a biotechnological process using or resulting in a composition of matter that is novel under section 102 and nonobvious under subsection (a) of this section shall be considered nonobvious if-
      • (A) claims to the process and the composition of matter are contained in either the same application for patent or in separate applications having the same effective filing date; and
      • (B) the composition of matter, and the process at the time it was invented, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) A patent issued on a process under paragraph (1)-
      • (A) shall also contain the claims to the composition of matter used in or made by that process, or
      • (B) shall, if such composition of matter is claimed in another patent, be set to expire on the same date as such other patent, notwithstanding section 154.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (1), the term “biotechnological process” means-
      • (A) a process of genetically altering or otherwise inducing a single- or multi-celled organism to-
        • (i) express an exogenous nucleotide sequence,
        • (ii) inhibit, eliminate, augment, or alter expression of an endogenous nucleotide sequence, or
        • (iii) express a specific physiological characteristic not naturally associated with said organism;
      • (B) cell fusion procedures yielding a cell line that expresses a specific protein, such as a monoclonal antibody; and
      • (C) a method of using a product produced by a process defined by subparagraph (A) or (B), or a combination of subparagraphs (A) and (B).

*****

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) is applicable to biotechnological processes only. Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) precludes a rejection of process claims which involve the use or making of certain nonobvious biotechnological compositions of matter under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a). Only applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 are subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b). See MPEP § 2159.

Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) requires that:

  • (A) the biotechnological process and composition of matter be contained in either the same application or in separate applications having the same effective filing date;
  • (B) both the biotechnological process and composition of matter be owned or subject to an assignment to the same person at the time the process was invented;
  • (C) a patent issued on the process also contain the claims to the composition of matter used in or made by the process, or, if the process and composition of matter are in different patents, the patents expire on the same date;
  • (D) the biotechnological process falls within the definition set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b); and
  • (E) a timely election be made to proceed under the provisions of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b).

An election to proceed under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) shall be made by way of petition under 37 CFR 1.182. The petition must establish that all the requirements set forth in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) have been satisfied.

An election will normally be considered timely if it is made no later than the earlier of either the payment of the issue fee or the filing of an appeal brief in an application which contains a composition of matter claim which has not been rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or 103.

In an application where at least one composition of matter claim has not been rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 or 103, a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) election may be made by submitting the petition and an amendment requesting entry of process claims which correspond to the composition of matter claim.

For applications pending on or after November 1, 1995, in which the issue fee has been paid prior to March 26, 1996, the timeliness requirement for an election under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) will be considered satisfied if the conditions of 37 CFR 1.312(b) are met. However, if a patent is granted on an application entitled to the benefit of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) without an election having been made as a result of error, patentees may file a reissue application to permit consideration of process claims which qualify for pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) treatment. See MPEP § 1412.02, subsection II

.

See MPEP § 2116.01 for a discussion of the Federal Circuit's decisions in In re Ochiai, 71 F.3d 1565, 37 USPQ 1127 (Fed. Cir. 1995) and In re Brouwer, 77 F.3d 422, 37 USPQ2d 1663 (Fed. Cir. 1996) which address the general issue of whether an otherwise conventional process could be patented if it were limited to making or using a nonobvious product. In view of the Federal Circuit’s decisions in Ochiai and Brouwer, an applicant’s need to rely upon pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b) should be rare. See also 1184 O.G. 86 (Comm’r Pat. 1996). See 35 U.S.C. 282 for the effect of a determination of nonobviousness under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(b)(1) on the presumption of validity.

706.03   Rejections Not Based on Prior Art [R-11.2013]

Under the principles of compact prosecution, each claim should be reviewed for compliance with every statutory requirement for patentability in the initial review of the application, even if one or more claims are found to be deficient with respect to some statutory requirement. Deficiencies should be explained clearly, particularly when they serve as a basis for a rejection. Whenever practicable, USPTO personnel should indicate how rejections may be overcome and how problems may be resolved.Where a rejection not based on prior art is proper (lack of adequate written description, enablement, or utility, etc.) such rejection should be stated with a full development of the reasons rather than by a mere conclusion.

Rejections based on nonstatutory subject matter are explained in MPEP § 706.03(a), § 2105, § 2106 - § 2106.02, and § 2107 - § 2107.02. Rejections based on subject matter barred by the Atomic Energy Act are explained in MPEP § 706.03(b). Rejections based on subject matter that is directed to tax strategies are explained in MPEP § 2124.01, and subject matter that is directed to a human organism is explained in MPEP § 2105. Rejections based on duplicate claims are addressed in MPEP § 706.03(k), and double patenting rejections are addressed in MPEP § 804. See MPEP §§ 706.03(o) and 2163.06for rejections based on new matter. Foreign filing without a license is discussed in MPEP § 706.03(s). Disclaimer, after interference or public use proceeding, res judicata, and reissue are explained in MPEP § 706.03(u) to § 706.03(x). Rejections based on 35 U.S.C. 112 are discussed in MPEP §§ 2161 - 2174. IF THE LANGUAGE IN THE FORM PARAGRAPHS IS INCORPORATED IN THE OFFICE ACTION TO STATE THE REJECTION, THERE WILL BE LESS CHANCE OF A MISUNDERSTANDING AS TO THE GROUNDS OF REJECTION.

706.03(a)   Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 101

Patents are not granted for all new and useful inventions and discoveries. The subject matter of the invention or discovery must come within the boundaries set forth by 35 U.S.C. 101, which permits a patent to be granted only for “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”

I.   DOUBLE PATENTING

35 U.S.C. 101 prevents two patents issuing on the same invention to the same applicant. The “same invention” means that identical subject matter is being claimed. If more than one patent is sought, a patent applicant will receive a statutory double patenting rejection for claims included in more than one application that are directed to the same invention.

See MPEP Chapter 800, specifically MPEP § 804 for criteria relevant to the prohibition of “double patenting.”

II.   SUBJECT MATTER ELIGIBILITY

A claimed invention must fall within one of the four categories of invention recited in 35 U.S.C. 101: process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, as these categories have been interpreted by the courts. Additionally, a claimed invention must not be directed to one of the judicially recognized exceptions, which have been specifically excluded from patent eligibility by the courts. These judicially recognized exceptions include scientific truths, abstract principles, abstract intellectual concepts, laws of nature, natural phenomena, abstract ideas, mental processes, processes of human thinking, and systems that depend for their operation on human intelligence alone. These have been collectively referred to as laws of nature, natural phenomena, or abstract ideas, but encompass the basic tools of scientific and technological work.

See MPEP § 2105 for patent eligibility of living subject matter and MPEP § 2106 for guidelines pertaining to subject matter eligibility in general.

Eligible subject matter is further limited by the Atomic Energy Act explained in MPEP § 706.03(b), which prohibits patents granted on any invention or discovery that is useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon.

III.   UTILITY

A rejection on the ground of lack of utility is appropriate when (1) it is not apparent why the invention is “useful” because applicant has failed to identify any specific and substantial utility and there is no well established utility, or (2) an assertion of specific and substantial utility for the invention is not credible. Such a rejection can include the more specific grounds of inoperativeness, such as inventions involving perpetual motion. A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility should not be based on grounds that the invention is frivolous, fraudulent or against public policy. See Juicy Whip Inc. v. Orange Bang Inc., 185 F.3d 1364, 1367-68, 51 USPQ2d 1700, 1702-03 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (“[Y]ears ago courts invalidated patents on gambling devices on the ground that they were immoral…, but that is no longer the law…Congress never intended that the patent laws should displace the police powers of the States, meaning by that term those powers by which the health, good order, peace and general welfare of the community are promoted…we find no basis in section 101 to hold that inventions can be ruled unpatentable for lack of utility simply because they have the capacity to fool some members of the public.”). The statutory basis for this rejection is 35 U.S.C. 101. See MPEP § 2107 for guidelines governing rejections for lack of utility. See MPEP § 2107.01 - § 2107.03 for legal precedent governing the utility requirement.

Use Form Paragraphs 8.30, 8.31 and 8.32 for statutory double patenting rejections. Use Form Paragraphs 7.04.01 through 7.05.03 to reject under 35 U.S.C. 101 for failure to claim eligible subject matter and for failure to satisfy the utility requirement.

IV.   IMPROPER NAMING OF INVENTOR

Although the AIA eliminated pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f), the patent laws still require the naming of the actual inventor or joint inventors of the claimed subject matter. See 35 U.S.C. 115(a). The Office presumes that the named inventor or joint inventors in the application are the actual inventor or joint inventors of the claimed invention. See MPEP § 2137.01. Where an application has an incorrect inventorship, the applicant should submit a request to correct inventorship under 37 CFR 1.48. In the rare situation where it clear that the application does not name the correct inventorship and the applicant has not filed a request to correct inventorship under 37 CFR 1.48, the examiner should reject the claims under 35 U.S.C. 101 and 35 U.S.C. 115 (and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(f) for applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102). Use Form Paragraph 7.04.02.aia to reject under 35 U.S.C. 101 and 115 for failing to set forth the correct inventorship.

¶ 7.04.101.aia    Statement of Statutory Bases, 35 U.S.C. 101 and 35 U.S.C. 115— Improper Inventorship

35 U.S.C. 101 reads as follows:

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

35 U.S.C. 115(a) reads as follows (in part):

An application for patent that is filed under section 111(a) or commences the national stage under section 371 shall include, or be amended to include, the name of the inventor for any invention claimed in the application.

The present application sets forth the incorrect inventorship because [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. If form paragraph 7.04.01 is already being used for a rejection that is not based on improper inventorship, then in lieu of this form paragraph, use form paragraph 7.04.102.aia with form paragraph 7.04.01 for a rejection based on improper inventorship.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the basis for concluding that the inventorship is incorrect.
  • 3. This form paragraph must be followed by form paragraph 7.04.02.aia.

¶ 7.04.102.aia    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 115— Improper Inventorship

35 U.S.C. 115(a) reads as follows (in part):

An application for patent that is filed under section 111(a) or commences the national stage under section 371 shall include, or be amended to include, the name of the inventor for any invention claimed in the application.

The present application sets forth the incorrect inventorship because [1].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to be used ONLY when a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 on another basis has been made and the statutory text thereof is already present.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.04.01 for a rejection based on improper inventorship.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert an explanation of the supporting evidence establishing that an improper inventor is named.

¶ 7.04.01    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 101

35 U.S.C. 101 reads as follows:  

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

Examiner Note:

  • This form paragraph must precede the first use of 35 U.S.C. 101 in all first actions on the merits and final rejections.  

¶ 7.04.02.aia    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101/115

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101 and 35 U.S.C. 115 for failing to set forth the correct inventorship for the reasons stated above.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, pluralize “Claim” if necessary, insert “is” or “are” as appropriate, and insert the claim number(s) which are under rejection.
  • 2. This rejection must be preceded by either form paragraph 7.04.101.aia or 7.04.102.aia.

¶ 7.04.03    Human Organism

Section 33(a) of the America Invents Act reads as follows

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no patent may issue on a claim directed to or encompassing a human organism.

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101 and section 33(a) of the America Invents Act as being directed to or encompassing a human organism. See also Animals - Patentability, 1077 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 24 (April 21, 1987) (indicating that human organisms are excluded from the scope of patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101). [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.04.01 which quotes 35 U.S.C. 101.
  • 2. In bracket 1, pluralize “Claim” if necessary, insert claim number(s), and insert “is” or “are” as appropriate.
  • 3. In bracket 2, explain why the claim is interpreted to read on a human organism.

¶ 7.05    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, -Heading Only- (Utility, Non-Statutory, Inoperative)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101 because

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph must be followed by one or more of form paragraphs - 7.05.01, 7.05.011, 7.05.012, 7.05.013, 7.05.02, 7.05.03, or another appropriate reason.
  • 2. Explain the rejection following the recitation of the statute and the use of form paragraph(s) or other reason.
  • 3. See MPEP §§ 706.03(a) and 2105- 2107.03 for other situations.
  • 4. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.04.01 in first actions and final rejections.

¶ 7.05.01    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Non-Statutory

the claimed invention is directed to non-statutory subject matter because [1]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, explain why the claimed invention is not patent eligible subject matter, e.g.,
  • (a) why the claimed invention does not fall within at least one of the four categories of patent eligible subject matter recited in 35 U.S.C. 101 (process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter), e.g., the claim is directed to a signal per se, a contract between two parties, or a human being; or
  • (b) why the claimed invention, although nominally falling within at least one of the four eligible categories, is directed to a judicial exception to 35 U.S.C. 101 (i.e., an abstract idea, natural phenomenon, or law of nature); or
  • (c) why the claimed invention would impermissibly cover every substantial practical application of, and thereby preempt all use of, an abstract idea, natural phenomenon, or law of nature; or
  • (d) why the claimed invention is directed to a naturally-occurring nucleic acid or fragment thereof, whether isolated or not, that is not patent-eligible pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., -- U.S. -- (June 13, 2013).
  • 2. For a claim that is directed to an abstract idea and is non-statutory, use form paragraph 7.05.011.

¶ 7.05.011    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Non-Statutory Method (Abstract Idea)

the claimed invention is not directed to patent eligible subject matter. Based upon consideration of all of the relevant factors with respect to the claim as a whole, claim(s) [1] is/are determined to be directed to an abstract idea.  The rationale for this determination is explained below:  [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1.        This form paragraph should only be used when rejecting method claim(s) directed to an abstract idea.
  • 2.        In bracket 2, identify the decisive factors weighing against patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101, and explain the manner in which these factors support a conclusion of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101. For instance, that additional limitations are no more than a field of use or merely involve insignificant extrasolution activity; e.g., data gathering. The explanation needs to be sufficient to establish a prima facie case of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101.

¶ 7.05.012    Dependent Claim(s)  - Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Non-Statutory Method (Abstract Idea)

Dependent claim(s) [1] when analyzed as a whole are held to be patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 because the additional recited limitation(s) fail(s) to establish that the claim(s) is/are not directed to an abstract idea, as detailed below:  [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1.        This form paragraph should only be used when rejecting dependent method claim(s) directed to an abstract idea.
  • 2.        In bracket 2, provide an explanation as to why the claim(s) is/are directed to an abstract idea; for instance, that the additional limitations are no more than a field of use or merely involve insignificant extrasolution activity; e.g., data gathering.  The explanation needs to be sufficient to establish a prima facie case of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101.

¶ 7.05.013    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Non-Statutory Method (Law of Nature)

the claimed invention is not directed to patent eligible subject matter. Based upon an analysis with respect to the claim as a whole, claim(s) [1] is/are determined to be directed to a law of nature/natural principle. The rationale for this determination is explained below: [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used when rejecting method claim(s) that have a law of nature/natural principle as a claim limitation.
  • 2. In bracket 2, identify the natural principle that is the limiting feature in the claim, and explain why the additional elements or steps in the claim do not integrate the natural principle into the method and/or why the additional elements or steps in the claim are not sufficient to ensure that the claim amounts to significantly more than the natural principle itself. For instance, the additional elements or steps can be shown to be extrasolution activity or mere field of use that impose no meaningful limit on the performance of the method or can be shown to be no more than well-understood, purely conventional, and routinely taken by others in order to apply the natural principle. The explanation needs to be sufficient to establish a prima facie case of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101.

¶ 7.05.02    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Utility Lacking

the claimed invention lacks patentable utility. [1]

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, provide explanation of lack of utility. See MPEP §§ 706.03(a) and 2105 - 2107.03.

¶ 7.05.03    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 101, Inoperative

the disclosed invention is inoperative and therefore lacks utility. [1]

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, explain why invention is inoperative.

¶ 7.05.04    Utility Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 101 and 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or 35 U.S.C. 112 (pre-AIA), First Paragraph

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101 because the claimed invention is not supported by either a [2] asserted utility or a well established utility.

[3]

Claim [4] also rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. Specifically, because the claimed invention is not supported by either a [5] asserted utility or a well established utility for the reasons set forth above, one skilled in the art clearly would not know how to use the claimed invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Where the specification would not enable one skilled in the art to make the claimed invention, or where alternative reasons support the enablement rejection, a separate rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) orpre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, enablement should be made using the factors set forth in In re Wands, 858 F.2d 731, 8 USPQ2d 1400 (Fed. Cir. 1988) and an undue experimentation analysis. See MPEP §§ 2164 - 2164.08(c).
  • 2 Use Format A, B, or C below as appropriate.
    • Format A:
      • (a) Insert the same claim numbers in brackets 1 and 4.
      • (b) Insert --specific and substantial-- in inserts 2 and 5.
      • (c) In bracket 3, insert the explanation as to why the claimed invention is not supported by either a specific and substantial asserted utility or a well established utility.
      • (d) Format A is to be used when there is no asserted utility and when there is an asserted utility but that utility is not specific and substantial.
    • Format B:
      • (a) Insert the same claim numbers in brackets 1 and 4.
      • (b) Insert --credible-- in inserts 2 and 5.
      • (c) In bracket 3, insert the explanation as to why the claimed invention is not supported by either a credible asserted utility or a well established utility.
    • Format C: For claims that have multiple utilities, some of which are not specific and substantial, some of which are not credible, but none of which are specific, substantial and credible:
      • (a) Insert the same claim numbers in brackets 1 and 4.
      • (b) Insert --specific and substantial asserted utility, a credible-- in inserts 2 and 5.
      • (c) In bracket 3, insert the explanation as to why the claimed invention is not supported by either a specific and substantial asserted utility, a credible asserted utility or a well established utility. Each utility should be addressed.

706.03(b)   Barred by Atomic Energy Act

A limitation on what can be patented is imposed by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Section 151(a) (42 U.S.C. 2181(a)) thereof reads in part as follows:

No patent shall hereafter be granted for any invention or discovery which is useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon.

The terms “atomic energy” and “special nuclear material” are defined in Section 11 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 2014).

Sections 151(c) and 151(d) (42 U.S.C. 2181(c) and (d)) set up categories of pending applications relating to atomic energy that must be brought to the attention of the Department of Energy. Under 37 CFR 1.14(d) , applications for patents which disclose or which appear to disclose, or which purport to disclose, inventions or discoveries relating to atomic energy are reported to the Department of Energy and the Department will be given access to such applications, but such reporting does not constitute a determination that the subject matter of each application so reported is in fact useful or an invention or discovery or that such application in fact discloses subject matter in categories specified by the Atomic Energy Act.

All applications received in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are screened by Technology Center (TC) work group 3640 personnel, under 37 CFR 1.14(d), in order for the Director to fulfill his or her responsibilities under section 151(d) (42 U.S.C. 2181(d)) of the Atomic Energy Act. Papers subsequently added must be inspected promptly by the examiner when received to determine whether the application has been amended to relate to atomic energy and those so related must be promptly forwarded to Licensing and Review in TC work group 3640.

All rejections based upon sections 151(a)(42 U.S.C. 2181(a)), 152 (42 U.S.C. 2182), and 155 (42 U.S.C. 2185) of the Atomic Energy Act must be made only by TC work group 3640 personnel.

706.03(c)   Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, First Paragraph

Rejections based on 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112 are discussed in MPEP § 2161 - § 2165.04. For a discussion of the utility requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, and 35 U.S.C. 101, see MPEP § 2107 - § 2107.03. The appropriate form paragraphs 7.30.01 and 7.31.01 through 7.33.01 should be used in making rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112.

¶ 7.30.01    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112

The following is a quotation of 35 U.S.C. 112(a):

(a) IN GENERAL.—The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor or joint inventor of carrying out the invention.

The following is a quotation of the first paragraph of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112:

The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The statute is no longer being re-cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits and final rejections. Where the statute is not being cited in an action on the merits, use paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. Form paragraphs 7.30.01 and 7.30.02 are to be used ONLY ONCE in a given Office action.

¶ 7.31.01    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 1st Paragraph, Description Requirement, Including New Matter Situations

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, as failing to comply with the written description requirement. The claim(s) contains subject matter which was not described in the specification in such a way as to reasonably convey to one skilled in the relevant art that the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the inventor(s), at the time the application was filed, had possession of the claimed invention. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.01 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, identify (by suitable reference to page and line numbers and/or drawing figures) the subject matter not properly described in the application as filed, and provide an explanation of your position. The explanation should include any questions the examiner asked which were not satisfactorily resolved and consequently raise doubt as to possession of the claimed invention at the time of filing.

Form paragraph 7.31.02 should be used when it is the examiner’s position that nothing within the scope of the claims is enabled. In such a rejection, the examiner should explain all the reasons why nothing within the scope of the claim is enabled. To make sure all relevant issues are raised, this should include any issues regarding the breadth of the claims relative to the guidance in the disclosure.

¶ 7.31.02    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 1st Paragraph, Enablement

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, as failing to comply with the enablement requirement. The claim(s) contains subject matter which was not described in the specification in such a way as to enable one skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and/or use the invention. [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.01 or 7.103.
  • 2. If the problem is one of scope, form paragraph 7.31.03 should be used.
  • 3. In bracket 2, identify the claimed subject matter for which the specification is not enabling. Also explain why the specification is not enabling, applying the factors set forth in In re Wands, 858 F.2d 731, 737, 8 USPQ2d 1400, 1404 (Fed. Cir. 1998) as appropriate. See also MPEP § 2164.01(a) and § 2164.04. The explanation should include any questions the examiner may have asked which were not satisfactorily resolved and consequently raise doubt as to enablement.
  • 4. Where an essential component or step of the invention is not recited in the claims, use form paragraph 7.33.01.

Form paragraph 7.31.03 should be used when it is the examiner’s position that something within the scope of the claims is enabled but the claims are not limited to that scope.

¶ 7.31.03    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 1st Paragraph: Scope of Enablement

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, because the specification, while being enabling for [2], does not reasonably provide enablement for [3]. The specification does not enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to [4] the invention commensurate in scope with these claims. [5]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.01 or 7.103.
  • 2. This form paragraph is to be used when the scope of the claims is not commensurate with the scope of the enabling disclosure.
  • 3. In bracket 2, identify the claimed subject matter for which the specification is enabling. This may be by reference to specific portions of the specification.
  • 4. In bracket 3, identify aspect(s) of the claim(s) for which the specification is not enabling.
  • 5. In bracket 4, fill in only the appropriate portion of the statute, i.e., one of the following: --make--, --use--, or --make and use--.
  • 6. In bracket 5, identify the claimed subject matter for which the specification is not enabling. Also explain why the specification is not enabling, applying the factors set forth in In re Wands, 858 F.2d 731, 737, 8 USPQ2d 1400, 1404 (Fed. Cir. 1998) as appropriate. See also MPEP § 2164.01(a) and § 2164.04. The explanation should include any questions posed by the examiner which were not satisfactorily resolved and consequently raise doubt as to enablement.

¶ 7.31.04    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 1st Paragraph: Best Mode Requirement

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, because the best mode contemplated by the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the inventor(s) has not been disclosed. Evidence of concealment of the best mode is based upon [2].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.01 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert the basis for holding that the best mode has been concealed, e.g., the quality of applicant’s disclosure is so poor as to effectively result in concealment.
  • 3. Use of this form paragraph should be rare. See MPEP §§ 2165- 2165.04.

Form paragraph 7.33.01 should be used when it is the examiner’s position that a feature considered critical or essential by applicant to the practice of the claimed invention is missing from the claim.

¶ 7.33.01    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 1st Paragraph, Essential Subject Matter Missing From Claims (Enablement)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, as based on a disclosure which is not enabling. [2] critical or essential to the practice of the invention, but not included in the claim(s) is not enabled by the disclosure. See In re Mayhew, 527 F.2d 1229, 188 USPQ 356 (CCPA 1976). [3]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.01 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, recite the subject matter omitted from the claims.
  • 3. In bracket 3, give the rationale for considering the omitted subject matter critical or essential.
  • 4. The examiner shall cite the statement, argument, date, drawing, or other evidence which demonstrates that a particular feature was considered essential by the applicant, is not reflected in the claims which are rejected.

706.03(d)   Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph

Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, are discussed in MPEP § 2171 - § 2174 and § 2181, subsection II. Form paragraphs 7.30.02, 7.34 through 7.34.19, 7.35 and 7.35.01 should be used to make rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.

¶ 7.30.02    Statement of Statutory Basis, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) and pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph

The following is a quotation of 35 U.S.C. 112(b):

(B) CONCLUSION.—The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention.

The following is a quotation of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph:

The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as his invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. The statute is no longer being re-cited in all Office actions. It is only required in first actions on the merits and final rejections. Where the statute is not being cited in an action on the merits, use paragraph 7.103.
  • 2. Paragraphs 7.30.01 and 7.30.02 are to be used ONLY ONCE in a given Office action.

¶ 7.34    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, Failure To Claim Inventor’s Invention

Claim [1] rejected under35 U.S.C. 112(b) orpre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as failing to set forth the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the applicant(s) regard as their invention. Evidence that claim [2] fail(s) to correspond in scope with that which the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the applicant(s) regard as the invention can be found in the reply filed [3]. In that paper, the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the applicant has stated [4], and this statement indicates that the invention is different from what is defined in the claim(s) because [5].

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. This paragraph is to be used only where inventor or applicant has stated, somewhere other than in the application, as filed, that the invention is something different from what is defined in the claim(s).
  • 3. In bracket 3, identify the submission by inventor or applicant (which is not the application, as filed, but may be in the remarks by applicant, in the brief, in an affidavit, etc.) by the date the paper was filed in the USPTO.
  • 4. In bracket 4, set forth what inventor or applicant has stated in the submission to indicate a different invention.
  • 5. In bracket 5, explain how the statement indicates an invention other than what is being claimed.

¶ 7.34.01    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, Failure To Particularly Point out and Distinctly Claim (Indefinite)

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being indefinite for failing to particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor, or for pre-AIA the applicant regards as the invention.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. This form paragraph should be followed by one or more of the following form paragraphs 7.34.02 - 7.34.11, as applicable. If none of these form paragraphs are appropriate, a full explanation of the deficiency of the claims should be supplied. Whenever possible, identify the particular term(s) or limitation(s) which render the claim(s) indefinite and state why such term or limitation renders the claim indefinite. If the scope of the claimed subject matter can be determined by one having ordinary skill in the art, a rejection using this form paragraph would not be appropriate. See MPEP §§ 2171 - 2174 for guidance. See also form paragraph 7.34.15 for pro se applicants.

¶ 7.34.02    Terminology Used Inconsistent with Accepted Meaning

Where applicant acts as his or her own lexicographer to specifically define a term of a claim contrary to its ordinary meaning, the written description must clearly redefine the claim term and set forth the uncommon definition so as to put one reasonably skilled in the art on notice that the applicant intended to so redefine that claim term. Process Control Corp. v. HydReclaim Corp., 190 F.3d 1350, 1357, 52 USPQ2d 1029, 1033 (Fed. Cir. 1999). The term “[1]” in claim [2] is used by the claim to mean “[3]”, while the accepted meaning is “[4].” The term is indefinite because the specification does not clearly redefine the term.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, point out the meaning that is assigned to the term by applicant’s claims, taking into account the entire disclosure.
  • 2. In bracket 4, point out the accepted meaning of the term. Support for the examiner’s stated accepted meaning should be provided through the citation of an appropriate reference source, e.g., textbook or dictionary. See MPEP § 2173.05(a).
  • 3. This paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.
  • 4. This paragraph should only be used where the specification does not clearly redefine the claim term at issue.

¶ 7.34.03    Relative Term - Term of Degree Rendering Claim Indefinite

The term “[1]” in claim [2] is a relative term which renders the claim indefinite. The term “[1]” is not defined by the claim, the specification does not provide a standard for ascertaining the requisite degree, and one of ordinary skill in the art would not be reasonably apprised of the scope of the invention. [3]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 3, explain which parameter, quantity, or other limitation in the claim has been rendered indefinite by the use of the term appearing in bracket 1.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.04    Broader Range/Limitation And Narrow Range/Limitation in Same Claim

A broad range or limitation together with a narrow range or limitation that falls within the broad range or limitation (in the same claim) is considered indefinite, since the resulting claim does not clearly set forth the metes and bounds of the patent protection desired. See MPEP § 2173.05(c). Note the explanation given by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in Ex parte Wu, 10 USPQ2d 2031, 2033 (Bd. Pat. App. & Inter. 1989), as to where broad language is followed by “such as” and then narrow language. The Board stated that this can render a claim indefinite by raising a question or doubt as to whether the feature introduced by such language is (a) merely exemplary of the remainder of the claim, and therefore not required, or (b) a required feature of the claims. Note also, for example, the decisions of Ex parte Steigewald, 131 USPQ 74 (Bd. App. 1961); Ex parte Hall, 83 USPQ 38 (Bd. App. 1948); and Ex parte Hasche, 86 USPQ 481 (Bd. App. 1949). In the present instance, claim [1] recites the broad recitation [2], and the claim also recites [3] which is the narrower statement of the range/limitation.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert the broader range/limitation and where it appears in the claim; in bracket 3, insert the narrow range/limitation and where it appears. This form paragraph may be modified to fit other instances of indefiniteness in the claims.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.05    Lack of Antecedent Basis in the Claims

Claim [1] recites the limitation [2] in [3]. There is insufficient antecedent basis for this limitation in the claim.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert the limitation which lacks antecedent basis, for example --said lever-- or --the lever--.
  • 2. In bracket 3, identify where in the claim(s) the limitation appears, for example, --line 3--, --the 3rd paragraph of the claim--, --the last 2 lines of the claim--, etc.
  • 3. This form paragraph should ONLY be used in aggravated situations where the lack of antecedent basis makes the scope of the claim indeterminate. It must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.06    Use Claims

Claim [1] provides for the use of [2], but, since the claim does not set forth any steps involved in the method/process, it is unclear what method/process applicant is intending to encompass. A claim is indefinite where it merely recites a use without any active, positive steps delimiting how this use is actually practiced. Claim [3] is rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101 because the claimed recitation of a use, without setting forth any steps involved in the process, results in an improper definition of a process, i.e., results in a claim which is not a proper process claim under 35 U.S.C. 101. See for example Ex parte Dunki, 153 USPQ 678 (Bd. App. 1967) and Clinical Products, Ltd. v. Brenner, 255 F. Supp. 131, 149 USPQ 475 (D.D.C. 1966).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert what is being used. For example, insert --the monoclonal antibodies of claim 4--, where the claim recites “a method for using monoclonal antibodies of claim 4 to purify interferon.”
  • 2. See MPEP § 2173.05(q).
  • 3. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.07    Claims Are a Literal Translation

The claims are generally narrative and indefinite, failing to conform with current U.S. practice. They appear to be a literal translation into English from a foreign document and are replete with grammatical and idiomatic errors.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.08    Indefinite Claim Language: “For Example”

Regarding claim [1], the phrase “for example” renders the claim indefinite because it is unclear whether the limitation(s) following the phrase are part of the claimed invention. See MPEP § 2173.05(d).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.09    Indefinite Claim Language: “Or The Like”

Regarding claim [1], the phrase “or the like” renders the claim(s) indefinite because the claim(s) include(s) elements not actually disclosed (those encompassed by “or the like”), thereby rendering the scope of the claim(s) unascertainable. See MPEP § 2173.05(d).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.10    Indefinite Claim Language: “Such As”

Regarding claim [1], the phrase “such as” renders the claim indefinite because it is unclear whether the limitations following the phrase are part of the claimed invention. See MPEP § 2173.05(d).

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.11    Modifier of “Means” Lacks Function

Regarding claim [1], the word “means” is preceded by the word(s) “[2]” in an attempt to use a “means” clause to recite a claim element as a means for performing a specified function. However, since no function is specified by the word(s) preceding “means,” it is impossible to determine the equivalents of the element, as required by 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. See Ex parte Klumb, 159 USPQ 694 (Bd. App. 1967).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. It is necessary for the words which precede “means” to convey a function to be performed. For example, the phrase “latch means” is definite because the word “latch” conveys the function “latching.” In general, if the phrase can be restated as “means for ________,” and it still makes sense, it is definite. In the above example, “latch means” can be restated as “means for latching.” This is clearly definite. However, if “conduit means” is restated as “means for conduiting,” the phrase makes no sense because the word “conduit” has no functional connotation, and the phrase is indefinite.
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.12    Essential Steps Omitted

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being incomplete for omitting essential steps, such omission amounting to a gap between the steps. See MPEP § 2172.01. The omitted steps are: [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, recite the steps omitted from the claims.
  • 3. Give the rationale for considering the omitted steps critical or essential.

¶ 7.34.13    Essential Elements Omitted

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being incomplete for omitting essential elements, such omission amounting to a gap between the elements. See MPEP § 2172.01. The omitted elements are: [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, recite the elements omitted from the claims.
  • 3. Give the rationale for considering the omitted elements critical or essential.

¶ 7.34.14    Essential Cooperative Relationships Omitted

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) orpre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being incomplete for omitting essential structural cooperative relationships of elements, such omission amounting to a gap between the necessary structural connections. See MPEP § 2172.01. The omitted structural cooperative relationships are: [2]

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. In bracket 2, recite the structural cooperative relationships of elements omitted from the claims.
  • 3. Give the rationale for considering the omitted structural cooperative relationships of elements being critical or essential.

¶ 7.34.15    Rejection Under 35 U.S.C. 112, Pro Se

Claim [1] rejected as failing to define the invention in the manner required by 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.

The claim(s) are narrative in form and replete with indefinite language. The structure which goes to make up the device must be clearly and positively specified. The structure must be organized and correlated in such a manner as to present a complete operative device. The claim(s) must be in one sentence form only. Note the format of the claims in the patent(s) cited.

¶ 7.34.16     Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Second Paragraph, Unclear Whether the Recited Structure, Material, or Acts in the Claim Preclude Application of 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

The claim limitation "[1]" uses the phrase "means for" or "step for" or a generic placeholder coupled with functional language, but it is modified by some structure, material, or acts recited in the claim. It is unclear whether the recited structure, material, or acts are sufficient for performing the claimed function because [2].

If applicant wishes to have the claim limitation treated under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, applicant may amend the claim so that the phrase "means for" or "step for" or the generic placeholder is clearly not modified by sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function, or may present a sufficient showing that the claim limitation is written as a function to be performed and the claim does not recite sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function.

If applicant does not wish to have the claim limitation treated under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, applicant may amend the claim so that it will clearly not invoke 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, or present a sufficient showing that the claim recites sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function to preclude application of 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph

Examiner Note:

  • 1.       In bracket 1, recite the claim limitation that causes the claim to be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.
  • 2.       In bracket 2, explain why it is unclear whether the claim limitation invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph (e.g., why it is unclear whether the limitation recites sufficient structure, material, or acts to preclude the application of35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph.)
  • 3.        This form paragraph may be used when the phrase "means for" or "step for" is used in the claim limitation and it is unclear to one of ordinary skill in the art whether the recited structure, material, or acts in the claim are sufficient for performing the claimed function.
  • 4.        This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.30.02 and 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.17     Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, Applicant Asserts that Claim Limitation Is Invoking 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 US.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph, but the Phrase “Means for” or “Step for” Is Not Used

Applicant asserts that the claim element “[1]” is a limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. However, it is unclear whether the claim element invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, because [2].  If applicant wishes to have the claim limitation treated under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, applicant may:

(a)        Amend the claim to include the phrase “means for” or “step for”. The phrase “means for” or “step for” must be modified by functional language, and the phrase or term must not be modified by sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function; or

(b)        Present a sufficient showing that the claim limitation is written as a function to be performed and the claim does not recite sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function to preclude application of 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. For more information, see MPEP § 2181.

Examiner Note:

  • 1.        This form paragraph may be used in response to an applicant’s reply in which applicant asserted that a claim limitation is invoking 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, even though the phrase “means for” or “step for” is not used in the claim limitation. See MPEP § 706.07(a) for guidance on when the second action may be made final.  
  • 2.        In bracket 1, recite the claim limitation that causes the claim to be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.
  • 3.        In bracket 2, explain why it is unclear whether the claim limitation invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. For example, it is unclear whether the claim limitation is modified by sufficient structure for performing the claimed function or it is unclear whether the corresponding structure is sufficiently disclosed in the written description of the specification.
  • 4.        This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.30.02 and 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.18     Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, No Disclosure or Insufficient Disclosure of the Structure, Material, or Acts for Performing the Function Recited in a Claim Limitation Invoking 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

Claim element “[1]” is a limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. However, the written description fails to disclose the corresponding structure, material, or acts for the claimed function. [2]

Applicant may:

(a)        Amend the claim so that the claim limitation will no longer be interpreted as a limitation under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph; or

(b)        Amend the written description of the specification such that it expressly recites what structure, material, or acts perform the claimed function, without introducing any new matter (35 U.S.C. 132(a)).

If applicant is of the opinion that the written description of the specification already implicitly or inherently discloses the corresponding structure, material, or acts so that one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize what structure, material, or acts perform the claimed function, applicant should clarify the record by either:

(a)        Amending the written description of the specification such that it expressly recites the corresponding structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function and clearly links or associates the structure, material, or acts to the claimed function, without introducing any new matter (35 U.S.C. 132(a)); or

(b)        Stating on the record what the corresponding structure, material, or acts, which are implicitly or inherently set forth in the written description of the specification, perform the claimed function. For more information, see 37 CFR 1.75(d) and MPEP § 608.01(o) and 2181.

Examiner Note:

  • 1.        In bracket 1, recite the limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph.
  • 2.        In bracket 2, explain why there is insufficient disclosure of the corresponding structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function.
  • 3.        This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.30.02 and 7.34.01.

¶ 7.34.19     Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, Fails To Clearly Link or Associate the Disclosed Structure, Material, or Acts to the Function Recited in a Claim Limitation Invoking 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

Claim element “[1]” is a limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. However, the written description fails to clearly link or associate the disclosed structure, material, or acts to the claimed function such that one of ordinary skill in the art would recognize what structure, material, or acts perform the claimed function. [2]

Applicant may:

(a)        Amend the claim so that the claim limitation will no longer be interpreted as a limitation under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph; or

(b)        Amend the written description of the specification such that it clearly links or associates the corresponding structure, material, or acts to the claimed function, without introducing any new matter (35 U.S.C. 132(a)); or

(c)        State on the record where the corresponding structure, material, or acts are set forth in the written description of the specification and linked or associated to the claimed function. For more information, see 37 CFR 1.75(d) and MPEP §§ 608.01(o) and 2181.

Examiner Note:

  • 1.        In bracket 1, recite the limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA35 U.S.C. 112 , sixth paragraph.
  • 2.        In bracket 2, explain why the written description of the specification fails to clearly link or associate the structure, material, or acts to the claimed function.
  • 3.        This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.30.02 and 7.34.01.

¶ 7.35    Rejection, 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd Paragraph, Failure To Particularly Point out and Distinctly Claim - Omnibus Claim

Claim [1] rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph, as being indefinite in that it fails to point out what is included or excluded by the claim language. This claim is an omnibus type claim.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This rejection must be preceded by form paragraph 7.30.02 or 7.103.
  • 2. Use this paragraph to reject an “omnibus” type claim. No further explanation is necessary.
  • 3. See MPEP § 1302.04(b) for cancellation of such a claim by examiner’s amendment upon allowance.
  • 4. An example of an omnibus claim is: “A device substantially as shown and described.”

¶ 7.35.01    Trademark or Trade Name as a Limitation in the Claim

Claim [1] contains the trademark/trade name [2]. Where a trademark or trade name is used in a claim as a limitation to identify or describe a particular material or product, the claim does not comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph. See Ex parte Simpson, 218 USPQ 1020 (Bd. App. 1982). The claim scope is uncertain since the trademark or trade name cannot be used properly to identify any particular material or product. A trademark or trade name is used to identify a source of goods, and not the goods themselves. Thus, a trademark or trade name does not identify or describe the goods associated with the trademark or trade name. In the present case, the trademark/trade name is used to identify/describe [3] and, accordingly, the identification/description is indefinite.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert the trademark/trade name and where it is used in the claim.
  • 2. In bracket 3, specify the material or product which is identified or described in the claim by the trademark/trade name.

706.03(e)   Form Paragraphs for Use Relating to 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

Form paragraphs 7.34.20 - 7.34.22 should be used when a claim limitation invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. See MPEP § 2181. For rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph relating to 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, use form paragraphs 7.34.16 to 7.34.19, reproduced in MPEP § 706.03(d).

¶ 7.34.20     The Specification Is Objected To; the Written Description Only Implicitly or Inherently Discloses the Structure, Material, or Acts for Performing the Function Recited in a Claim Limitation Invoking 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

Claim element “[1]” is a limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. The written description only implicitly or inherently sets forth the corresponding structure, material, or acts that perform the claimed function.

Pursuant to 37 CFR 1.75(d) and MPEP §§ 608.01(o) and 2181, applicant should:

(a)        Amend the claim so that the claim limitation will no longer be interpreted as a limitation under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph; or

(b)        Amend the written description of the specification such that it expressly recites the corresponding structure, material, or acts that perform the claimed function and clearly links or associates the structure, material, or acts to the claimed function, without introducing any new matter (35 U.S.C. 132(a)); or

(c)        State on the record what corresponding structure, material, or acts, which are implicitly or inherently set forth in the written description of the specification, perform the claimed function.

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, recite the limitation that invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph.

¶ 7.34.21    Claim Limitation Interpreted under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, Sixth Paragraph

Claim limitation(s) “[1]” has/have been interpreted under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, because it uses/they use a generic placeholder “[2]” coupled with functional language “[3]” without reciting sufficient structure to achieve the function.  Furthermore, the generic placeholder is not preceded by a structural modifier.  [4].

Since the claim limitation(s) invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, claim(s) [5] has/have been interpreted to cover the corresponding structure described in the specification that achieves the claimed function, and equivalents thereof.  

A review of the specification shows that the following appears to be the corresponding structure described in the specification for the 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph limitation: [6].  

If applicant wishes to provide further explanation or dispute the examiner's interpretation of the corresponding structure, applicant must identify the corresponding structure with reference to the specification by page and line number, and to the drawing, if any, by reference characters in response to this Office action.

If applicant does not intend to have the claim limitation(s) treated under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, applicant may amend the claim(s) so that it/they will clearly not invoke 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, or present a sufficient showing that the claim recites/recite sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function to preclude application of 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph.

For more information, see MPEP § 2173et seq. and Supplementary Examination Guidelines for Determining Compliance With 35 U.S.C. 112 and for Treatment of Related Issues in Patent Applications, 76 FR 7162, 7167 (Feb. 9, 2011).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph ONLY when additional explanation regarding treatment under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph is necessary. For example, use this paragraph if clarification is needed when a claim element does not use the word “means” but no structure for performing the function is recited in the claim itself or when the associated structure in the specification for performing the function is needs explanation. If the claim element clearly invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph and the corresponding structure is easily identified in the specification for performing the claimed function, it is not necessary to use this form paragraph.

Examiner Note:

  • 2. This paragraph may be used to explain more than one claim when multiple claims recite similar language or raise similar issues.

Examiner Note:

  • 3. In bracket 1, recite the claim limitation that has been interpreted under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph.
  • 4. In bracket 2, recite the generic placeholder that is merely a substitute for the term “means.”
  • 5. In bracket 3, recite the functional language.
  • 6. In bracket 4, provide an explanation, if appropriate, why the generic placeholder is not recognized as the name of a structure but is merely a substitute for the term “means.”
  • 7. In bracket 5, recite the claim number(s) of the claim(s) that contains/contain the claim limitation.
  • 8. In bracket 6, recite the corresponding structure with reference to the specification by page and line number, and to the drawing, if any, by reference characters.

¶ 7.34.22    Rejections Under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 2nd paragraph, Applicant Asserts that Claim Limitation Does Not Invoke 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 6th Paragraph, but No Structure is Recited to Perform the Claimed Function

Applicant asserts that the claim element “[1]” is a limitation that does not invoke 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 6th paragraph. However, it is unclear whether the claim element invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 6th paragraph because [2]. If applicant does not wish to have the claim limitation treated under 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, 6th Paragraph applicant may:

  • (a) Amend the claim to add structure, material or acts that are sufficient to perform the claimed function; or
  • (b) Present a sufficient showing that the claim limitation recites sufficient structure, material, or acts for performing the claimed function to preclude application of 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. For more information, see MPEP § 2181.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph may be used in response to an applicant’s reply in which applicant asserted that a claim limitation does not invoke 35 U.S.C. 112(f), even though no structure is provided in the claim limitation for performing the function. See MPEP § 706.07(a) for guidance on when the second action may be made final.
  • 2. In bracket 1, recite the claim limitation that causes the claim to be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.
  • 3. In bracket 2, explain why it is unclear whether the claim limitation invokes 35 U.S.C. 112(f) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph. For example, it is unclear whether the claim limitation is modified by sufficient structure for performing the claimed function.
  • 4. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraphs 7.30.02 and 7.34.01.

706.03(f) - 706.03(j)   [Reserved]

706.03(k)   Duplicate Claims

Inasmuch as a patent is supposed to be limited to only one invention or, at most, several closely related indivisible inventions, limiting an application to a single claim, or a single claim to each of the related inventions might appear to be logical as well as convenient. However, court decisions have confirmed applicant’s right to restate (i.e., by plural claiming) the invention in a reasonable number of ways. Indeed, a mere difference in scope between claims has been held to be enough.

Nevertheless, when two claims in an application are duplicates, or else are so close in content that they both cover the same thing, despite a slight difference in wording, it is proper after allowing one claim to object to the other claim under 37 CFR 1.75 as being a substantial duplicate of the allowed claim.

Form paragraphs 7.05.05 and 7.05.06 may be used where duplicate claims are present in an application.

¶ 7.05.05    Duplicate Claims, Warning

Applicant is advised that should claim [1] be found allowable, claim [2] will be objected to under 37 CFR 1.75 as being a substantial duplicate thereof. When two claims in an application are duplicates or else are so close in content that they both cover the same thing, despite a slight difference in wording, it is proper after allowing one claim to object to the other as being a substantial duplicate of the allowed claim. See MPEP § 706.03(k).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. Use this form paragraph whenever two claims are found to be substantial duplicates, but they are not allowable. This will give the applicant an opportunity to correct the problem and avoid a later objection.
  • 2. If the claims are allowable, use form paragraph 7.05.06.

¶ 7.05.06    Duplicate Claims, Objection

Claim [1] objected under 37 CFR 1.75 as being a substantial duplicate of claim [2]. When two claims in an application are duplicates or else are so close in content that they both cover the same thing, despite a slight difference in wording, it is proper after allowing one claim to object to the other as being a substantial duplicate of the allowed claim. See MPEP § 706.03(k).

Examiner Note:

If the duplicate claims are not allowable, use form paragraph 7.05.05.

See MPEP § 804 for double patenting rejections of inventions not patentable over each other.

706.03(l)   [Reserved]

706.03(m)   Nonelected Inventions

See MPEP § 821 to § 821.03 for treatment of claims held to be drawn to nonelected inventions.

706.03(n)   [Reserved]

706.03(o)   New Matter

35 U.S.C. 132   Notice of rejection; reexamination.

  • (a) Whenever, on examination, any claim for a patent is rejected, or any objection or requirement made, the Director shall notify the applicant thereof, stating the reasons for such rejection, or objection or requirement, together with such information and references as may be useful in judging of the propriety of continuing the prosecution of his application; and if after receiving such notice, the applicant persists in his claim for a patent, with or without amendment, the application shall be reexamined. No amendment shall introduce new matter into the disclosure of the invention.

*****

In amended cases, subject matter not disclosed in the original application is sometimes added and a claim directed thereto. Such a claim is rejected on the ground that it recites elements without support in the original disclosure under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, Waldemar Link, GmbH & Co. v. Osteonics Corp., 32 F.3d 556, 559, 31 USPQ2d 1855, 1857 (Fed. Cir. 1994); In re Rasmussen, 650 F.2d 1212, 211 USPQ 323 (CCPA 1981). See MPEP § 2163.06 - § 2163.07(b) for a discussion of the relationship of new matter to 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. New matter includes not only the addition of wholly unsupported subject matter, but may also include adding specific percentages or compounds after a broader original disclosure, or even the omission of a step from a method. See MPEP § 608.04 to § 608.04(c). See In re Wertheim, 541 F.2d 257, 191 USPQ 90 (CCPA 1976) and MPEP § 2163.05 for guidance in determining whether the addition of specific percentages or compounds after a broader original disclosure constitutes new matter.

In the examination of an application following amendment thereof, the examiner must be on the alert to detect new matter. 35 U.S.C. 132(a) should be employed as a basis for objection to amendments to the abstract, specification, or drawings attempting to add new disclosure to that originally disclosed on filing.

If subject matter capable of illustration is originally claimed and it is not shown in the drawing, the claim is not rejected but applicant is required to add it to the drawing. See MPEP § 608.01(l).

If new matter is added to the specification, it should be objected to by using Form Paragraph 7.28.

¶ 7.28    Objection to New Matter Added to Specification

The amendment filed [1] is objected to under 35 U.S.C. 132(a) because it introduces new matter into the disclosure. 35 U.S.C. 132(a) states that no amendment shall introduce new matter into the disclosure of the invention. The added material which is not supported by the original disclosure is as follows: [2].

Applicant is required to cancel the new matter in the reply to this Office action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is not to be used in reissue applications; use form paragraph 14.22.01 instead.
  • 2. In bracket 2, identify the new matter by page and the line numbers and/or drawing figures and provide an appropriate explanation of your position. This explanation should address any statement by applicant to support the position that the subject matter is described in the specification as filed. It should further include any unresolved questions which raise a doubt as to the possession of the claimed invention at the time of filing.
  • 3. If new matter is added to the claims, or affects the claims, a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, using form paragraph 7.31.01 should also be made. If new matter is added only to a claim, an objection using this paragraph should not be made, but the claim should be rejected using form paragraph 7.31.01. As to any other appropriate prior art or 35 U.S.C. 112 rejection, the new matter must be considered as part of the claimed subject matter and cannot be ignored.

706.03(p) - 706.03(r)   [Reserved]

706.03(s)   Foreign Filing Without License

35 U.S.C. 182   Abandonment of invention for unauthorized disclosure.

The invention disclosed in an application for patent subject to an order made pursuant to section 181 may be held abandoned upon its being established by the Commissioner of Patents that in violation of said order the invention has been published or disclosed or that an application for a patent therefor has been filed in a foreign country by the inventor, his successors, assigns, or legal representatives, or anyone in privity with him or them, without the consent of the Commissioner of Patents. The abandonment shall be held to have occurred as of the time of violation. The consent of the Commissioner of Patents shall not be given without the concurrence of the heads of the departments and the chief officers of the agencies who caused the order to be issued. A holding of abandonment shall constitute forfeiture by the applicant, his successors, assigns, or legal representatives, or anyone in privity with him or them, of all claims against the United States based upon such invention.

35 U.S.C. 184   Filing of application in foreign country.

  • (a) FILING IN FOREIGN COUNTRY.—Except when authorized by a license obtained from the Commissioner of Patents a person shall not file or cause or authorize to be filed in any foreign country prior to six months after filing in the United States an application for patent or for the registration of a utility model, industrial design, or model in respect of an invention made in this country. A license shall not be granted with respect to an invention subject to an order issued by the Commissioner of Patents pursuant to section 181 without the concurrence of the head of the departments and the chief officers of the agencies who caused the order to be issued. The license may be granted retroactively where an application has been filed abroad through error and the application does not disclose an invention within the scope of section 181.
  • (b) APPLICATION.—The term “application” when used in this chapter includes applications and any modifications, amendments, or supplements thereto, or divisions thereof.
  • (c) SUBSEQUENT MODIFICATIONS, AMENDMENTS, AND SUPPLEMENTS.—The scope of a license shall permit subsequent modifications, amendments, and supplements containing additional subject matter if the application upon which the request for the license is based is not, or was not, required to be made available for inspection under section 181 and if such modifications, amendments, and supplements do not change the general nature of the invention in a manner which would require such application to be made available for inspection under such section 181. In any case in which a license is not, or was not, required in order to file an application in any foreign country, such subsequent modifications, amendments, and supplements may be made, without a license, to the application filed in the foreign country if the United States application was not required to be made available for inspection under section 181 and if such modifications, amendments, and supplements do not, or did not, change the general nature of the invention in a manner which would require the United States application to have been made available for inspection under such section 181.

35 U.S.C. 185   Patent barred for filing without license.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of law any person, and his successors, assigns, or legal representatives, shall not receive a United States patent for an invention if that person, or his successors, assigns, or legal representatives shall, without procuring the license prescribed in section 184, have made, or consented to or assisted another’s making, application in a foreign country for a patent or for the registration of a utility model, industrial design, or model in respect of the invention. A United States patent issued to such person, his successors, assigns, or legal representatives shall be invalid, unless the failure to procure such license was through error, and the patent does not disclose subject matter within the scope of section 181.

If, upon examining an application, the examiner learns of the existence of a corresponding foreign application which appears to have been filed before the United States application had been on file for 6 months, and if the invention apparently was made in this country, he or she shall refer the application to Licensing and Review Section of Technology Center (TC) working group 3640, calling attention to the foreign application. Pending investigation of the possible violation, the application may be returned to the TC for prosecution on the merits. When it is otherwise in condition for allowance, the application will be again submitted to Licensing and Review Section of TC work group 3640 unless the latter has already reported that the foreign filing involves no bar to the United States application.

If it should be necessary to take action under 35 U.S.C. 185, Licensing and Review Section of TC work group 3640 will request transfer of the application to it.

706.03(t)   [Reserved]

706.03(u)   Disclaimer

Claims may be rejected on the ground that applicant has disclaimed the subject matter involved. Such disclaimer may arise, for example, from the applicant’s failure to:

  • (A) make claims suggested for interference with another application under 37 CFR 41.202(c) (See MPEP Chapter 2300 ),
  • (B) copy a claim from a patent when suggested by the examiner (MPEP Chapter 2300 ), or
  • (C) respond or appeal, within the time limit fixed, to the examiner’s rejection of claims copied from a patent (see MPEP Chapter 2300 ).

The rejection on disclaimer applies to all claims not patentably distinct from the disclaimed subject matter as well as to the claims directly involved.

Rejections based on disclaimer should be made by using one of Form Paragraphs 7.48 and 7.49.

¶ 7.48.fti    Failure To Present Claims for Interference

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. [2] based upon claim [3] of Patent No. [4].

Failure to present claims and/or take necessary steps for interference purposes after notification that interfering subject matter is claimed constitutes a disclaimer of the subject matter. This amounts to a concession that, as a matter of law, the patentee is the first inventor in this country. See In re Oguie, 517 F.2d 1382, 186 USPQ 227 (CCPA 1975).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should be used only after applicant has been notified that interference proceedings must be instituted before the claims can be allowed and applicant has refused to copy the claims.
  • 2. In bracket 2, insert --102(g)-- or --102(g)/103(a)--.
  • 3. In bracket 4, insert the patent number, and --in view of _____-- if another reference is also relied upon. When the rejection is under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(a), the examiner’s basis for a finding of obviousness should be included. Note that interferences may include obvious variants, see MPEP Chapter 2300.

¶ 7.48.aia    Failure To Present Claims for Interference

Claim [1] rejected under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. [2] based upon claim [3] of Patent No. [4].

Failure to present claims and/or take necessary steps for interference purposes after notification that interfering subject matter is claimed constitutes a disclaimer of the subject matter. This amounts to a concession that, as a matter of law, the patentee is the first inventor in this country. See In re Oguie, 517 F.2d 1382, 186 USPQ 227 (CCPA 1975).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, and the application also contains or contained at any time (1) a claim to an invention having an effective filing date as defined in 35 U.S.C. 100(i) that is before March 16, 2013, or (2) a specific reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) to any patent or application that contains or contained at any time such a claim.
  • 2. This form paragraph should be used only after applicant has been notified that interference proceedings must be instituted before the claims can be allowed and applicant has refused to copy the claims.
  • 3. In bracket 2, insert --102(g)-- or --102(g)/103(a)--.
  • 4. In bracket 4, insert the patent number, and --in view of _____-- if another reference is also relied upon. When the rejection is under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)/103(a), the examiner’s basis for a finding of obviousness should be included. Note that interferences may include obvious variants, see MPEP Chapter 2300.
  • 5. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.14.aia, or by form paragraph 7.103.

¶ 7.49    Rejection, Disclaimer, Failure To Appeal

An adverse judgment against claim [1] has been entered by the Board. Claim [2] stand(s) finally disposed of for failure to reply to or appeal from the examiner’s rejection of such claim(s) presented for interference within the time for appeal or civil action specified in 37 CFR 90.3. Adverse judgment against a claim is a final action of the Office requiring no further action by the Office to dispose of the claim permanently. See 37 CFR 41.127(a)(2).

706.03(v)   After Interference or Former Public Use Proceeding

For rejections following an interference, see MPEP Chapter 2300.

The outcome of public use proceedings may also be the basis of a rejection. See 37 CFR 1.292 in effect on September 15, 2012, and In re Kaslow, 707 F.2d 1366, 217 USPQ 1089 (Fed. Cir. 1983). Public use proceedings, effective September 16, 2012, are no longer authorized. For certain patents, prior public use may be raised in a post-grant review proceeding. See 35 U.S.C. 321-329. Information on prior public use may continue to be submitted by third parties via a protest in a pending application when the requirements of 37 CFR 1.291 have been met, and utilization of 37 CFR 1.291 will promote Office efficiency with respect to treatment of these issues. See MPEP § 1901.02.

706.03(w)   Res Judicata

Res judicata may constitute a proper ground for rejection. However, res judicata rejections should be applied only when the earlier decision was a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (or its predecessor Board) or any one of the reviewing courts and when there is no opportunity for further court review of the earlier decision.

The timely filing of a second application copending with an earlier application does not preclude the use of res judicata as a ground of rejection for the second application claims. A patent owner or applicant is precluded from seeking a claim that is not patentably distinct from a claim that was finally refused or canceled during an administrative trial. Similarly, a patent owner is precluded from seeking an amendment of a specification or drawing that was denied entry during a trial if the application or patent for which the amendment is sought has the same written description as the patent or application that was the subject of the administrative trial. See 37 CFR 42.73(d)(3).

When making a rejection on res judicata, action should ordinarily be made also on the basis of prior art, especially in continuing applications. In most situations the same prior art which was relied upon in the earlier decision would again be applicable.

In the following cases a rejection of a claim on the ground of res judicata was sustained where it was based on a prior adjudication, against the inventor on the same claim, a patentably nondistinct claim, or a claim involving the same issue.

In re Freeman, 30 F.3d 1459, 31 USPQ 2d 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1994).

Edgerton v. Kingland, 168 F. 2d 121, 75 USPQ 307 (D.C. Cir. 1947).

In re Szwarc, 319 F.2d 277, 138 USPQ 208 (CCPA 1963).

In re Katz, 467 F.2d 939, 167 USPQ 487 (CCPA 1970) (prior decision by District Court).

In the following cases for various reasons, res judicata rejections were reversed.

In re Fried, 312 F.2d 930, 136 USPQ 429 (CCPA 1963) (differences in claims).

In re Szwarc, 319 F.2d 277, 138 USPQ 208 (CCPA 1963) (differences in claim).

In re Hellbaum, 371 F.2d 1022, 152 USPQ 571 (CCPA 1967) (differences in claims).

In re Herr, 377 F.2d 610, 153 USPQ 548 (CCPA 1967) (same claims, new evidence, prior decision by CCPA).

In re Kaghan, 387 F.2d 398, 156 USPQ 130 (CCPA 1967) (prior decision by Board of Appeals, final rejection on prior art withdrawn by examiner “to simplify the issue,” differences in claims; holding of waiver based on language in MPEP at the time).

In re Craig, 411 F.2d 1333, 162 USPQ 157 (CCPA 1969) (Board of Appeals held second set of claims patentable over prior art).

In re Fisher, 427 F.2d 833, 166 USPQ 18 (CCPA 1970) (difference in claims).

In re Russell, 439 F.2d 1228, 169 USPQ 426 (CCPA 1971) (new evidence, rejection on prior art reversed by court).

In re Ackermann, 444 F.2d 1172, 170 USPQ 340 (CCPA 1971) (prior decision by Board of Appeals, new evidence, rejection on prior art reversed by court).

Plastic Contact Lens Co. v. Gottschalk, 484 F.2d 837, 179 USPQ 262 (D.C. Cir. 1973) (follows In re Kaghan).

706.03(x)   Reissue

The examination of reissue applications is covered in MPEP Chapter 1400.

35 U.S.C. 251 forbids the granting of a reissue “enlarging the scope of the claims of the original patent” unless the reissue is applied for within 2 years from the grant of the original patent (or the reissue application properly claims the benefit of a broadening reissue application filed within 2 years of the patent grant). This is an absolute bar and cannot be excused. This prohibition has been interpreted to apply to any claim which is broader in any respect than the claims of the original patent. Such claims may be rejected as being barred by 35 U.S.C. 251.

For a reissue application filed prior to September 16, 2012, 35 U.S.C. 251 permits the filing of a reissue application by the assignee of the entire interest only in cases where it does not “enlarge the scope of the claims of the original patent.” For reissue applications filed on or after September 16, 2012, the assignee of the entire interest may file the reissue application if (1) the application does not seek to enlarge the scope of the claims of the original patent, or (2) the application for the original patent was filed under 37 CFR 1.46 by the assignee of the entire interest. Such claims which do enlarge the scope may also be rejected as barred by the statute. In In re Bennett, 766 F.2d 524, 226 USPQ 413 (Fed. Cir. 1985), however, the court permitted the erroneous filing by the assignee in such a case to be corrected.

A defective reissue oath affords a ground for rejecting all the claims in the reissue application. See MPEP § 1444.

Note that a reissue application is “special” and remains so even if applicant does not make a prompt reply. See MPEP § 1442.

706.04   Rejection of Previously Allowed Claims [R-11.2013]

A claim noted as allowable may be rejected only after a primary examiner has considered all the facts. An Office action rejecting a previously allowed claim must be signed by a primary examiner. See MPEP § 1004.

Great care should be exercised in making such a rejection.

  PREVIOUS ACTION BY DIFFERENT EXAMINER

Full faith and credit should be given to the search and action of a previous examiner unless there is a clear error in the previous action or knowledge of other prior art. In general, an examiner should not take an entirely new approach or attempt to reorient the point of view of a previous examiner, or make a new search in the mere hope of finding something. Amgen, Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 126 F. Supp. 2d 69, 139, 57 USPQ2d 1449, 1499-50 (D. Mass. 2001).

Because it is unusual to reject a previously allowed claim, the examiner should point out in his or her office action that the claim now being rejected was previously allowed by using Form Paragraph 7.50.

¶ 7.50    Claims Previously Allowed, Now Rejected, New Art

The indicated allowability of claim [1] is withdrawn in view of the newly discovered reference(s) to [2]. Rejection(s) based on the newly cited reference(s) follow.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 2, insert the name(s) of the newly discovered reference.
  • 2. Any action including this form paragraph requires the signature of a Primary Examiner. MPEP § 1004.

706.05   Rejection After Allowance of Application [R-08.2012]

See MPEP § 1308.01 for a rejection based on a reference after allowance.

706.06   Rejection of Claims Copied From Patent [R-08.2012]

See MPEP Chapter 2300 .

706.07   Final Rejection [R-11.2013]

37 C.F.R. 1.113   Final rejection or action.

  • (a) On the second or any subsequent examination or consideration by the examiner the rejection or other action may be made final, whereupon applicant’s, or for ex parte reexaminations filed under § 1.510, patent owner’s reply is limited to appeal in the case of rejection of any claim (§ 41.31 of this title), or to amendment as specified in § 1.114 or § 1.116. Petition may be taken to the Director in the case of objections or requirements not involved in the rejection of any claim (§ 1.181). Reply to a final rejection or action must comply with § 1.114 or paragraph (c) of this section. For final actions in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913, see § 1.953.
  • (b) In making such final rejection, the examiner shall repeat or state all grounds of rejection then considered applicable to the claims in the application, clearly stating the reasons in support thereof.
  • (c) Reply to a final rejection or action must include cancellation of, or appeal from the rejection of, each rejected claim. If any claim stands allowed, the reply to a final rejection or action must comply with any requirements or objections as to form.

Before final rejection is in order a clear issue should be developed between the examiner and applicant. To bring the prosecution to as speedy conclusion as possible and at the same time to deal justly by both the applicant and the public, the invention as disclosed and claimed should be thoroughly searched in the first action and the references fully applied; and in reply to this action the applicant should amend with a view to avoiding all the grounds of rejection and objection. Switching from one subject matter to another in the claims presented by applicant in successive amendments, or from one set of references to another by the examiner in rejecting in successive actions claims of substantially the same subject matter, will alike tend to defeat attaining the goal of reaching a clearly defined issue for an early termination, i.e., either an allowance of the application or a final rejection.

While applicant does not have the right to amend as often as the examiner presents new references or reasons for rejection, examiners should not make hasty and ill-considered final rejections. The applicant who is seeking to define his or her invention in claims that will give him or her the patent protection to which he or she is justly entitled should receive the cooperation of the examiner to that end, and not be prematurely cut off in the prosecution of his or her application.

The examiner should never lose sight of the fact that in every case the applicant is entitled to a full and fair hearing, and that a clear issue between applicant and examiner should be developed, if possible, before appeal. However, it is to the interest of the applicants as a class as well as to that of the public that prosecution of an application be confined to as few actions as is consistent with a thorough consideration of its merits.

  STATEMENT OF GROUNDS

In making the final rejection, all outstanding grounds of rejection of record should be carefully reviewed, and any such grounds relied on in the final rejection should be reiterated. They must also be clearly developed to such an extent that applicant may readily judge the advisability of an appeal unless a single previous Office action contains a complete statement supporting the rejection.

However, where a single previous Office action contains a complete statement of a ground of rejection, the final rejection may refer to such a statement and also should include a rebuttal of any arguments raised in the applicant’s reply. If appeal is taken in such a case, the examiner’s answer should contain a complete statement of the examiner’s position. The final rejection letter should conclude with Form Paragraph 7.39.

¶ 7.39    Action Is Final

THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should not be used in reissue litigation cases (SSP- 1 month) or in reexamination proceedings (SSP- 1 or 2 months).
  • 2. 37 CFR 1.136(a) should not be available in a reissue litigation case and is not available in reexamination proceedings.

Form paragraph 7.39.01 may be used to notify applicant of options available after final rejection.

¶ 7.39.01    Final Rejection, Options for Applicant, Pro Se

This action is a final rejection and is intended to close the prosecution of this application. Applicant’s reply under 37 CFR 1.113 to this action is limited either to an appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or to an amendment complying with the requirements set forth below.

If applicant should desire to appeal any rejection made by the examiner, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within the period for reply identifying the rejected claim or claims appealed. The Notice of Appeal must be accompanied by the required appeal fee of $[1].

If applicant should desire to file an amendment, entry of a proposed amendment after final rejection cannot be made as a matter of right unless it merely cancels claims or complies with a formal requirement made earlier. Amendments touching the merits of the application which otherwise might not be proper may be admitted upon a showing a good and sufficient reasons why they are necessary and why they were not presented earlier.

A reply under 37 CFR 1.113 to a final rejection must include the appeal from, or cancellation of, each rejected claim. The filing of an amendment after final rejection, whether or not it is entered, does not stop the running of the statutory period for reply to the final rejection unless the examiner holds the claims to be in condition for allowance. Accordingly, if a Notice of Appeal has not been filed properly within the period for reply, or any extension of this period obtained under either 37 CFR 1.136(a) or (b), the application will become abandoned.

Examiner Note:

The form paragraph must be preceded by any one of form paragraphs 7.39, 7.40, 7.40.01, 7.41, 7.42.03.fti, or 7.42.09.

The Office Action Summary Form PTOL-326 should be used in all Office actions up to and including final rejections.

For amendments filed after final rejection, see MPEP § 714.12 and § 714.13.

For final rejection practice in reexamination proceedings see MPEP § 2271.

706.07(a)   Final Rejection, When Proper on Second Action

Second or any subsequent actions on the merits shall be final, except where the examiner introduces a new ground of rejection that is neither necessitated by applicant’s amendment of the claims, nor based on information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). Where information is submitted in an information disclosure statement during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with a fee, the examiner may use the information submitted, e.g., a printed publication or evidence of public use, and make the next Office action final whether or not the claims have been amended, provided that no other new ground of rejection which was not necessitated by amendment to the claims is introduced by the examiner. See MPEP § 609.04(b). Furthermore, a second or any subsequent action on the merits in any application will not be made final if it includes a rejection, on newly cited art, other than information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed under 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p), of any claim not amended by applicant or patent owner in spite of the fact that other claims may have been amended to require newly cited art. Where information is submitted in a reply to a requirement under 37 CFR 1.105, the examiner may NOT make the next Office action relying on that art final unless all instances of the application of such art are necessitated by amendment.

A second or any subsequent action on the merits in any application or patent involved in reexamination proceedings should not be made final if it includes a rejection, on prior art not of record, of any claim amended to include limitations which should reasonably have been expected to be claimed. See MPEP § 904 et seq. However, note that an examiner cannot be expected to foresee whether or how an applicant will amend a claim to overcome a rejection except in very limited circumstances (e.g., where the examiner suggests how applicant can overcome a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, second paragraph.

A second or any subsequent action on the merits in any application or patent involved in reexamination proceedings may not be made final if it contains a new ground of rejection necessitated by the amendments to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) by the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-273, 116 Stat. 1758 (2002)), unless the new ground of rejection was necessitated by an amendment to the claims or as a result of information submitted in an information disclosure statement under 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p).

When applying any 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103 references against the claims of an application the examiner should anticipate that a statement averring common ownership may qualify the applicant for the exemption under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) or a statement of common ownership at the time the invention was made may disqualify any patent or application applied in a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103 based on 35 U.S.C. 102(e). If such a statement is filed in reply to the 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)/103 rejection and the claims are not amended, the examiner may not make the next Office action final if a new rejection is made. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3) and § 2154.02(c). If a reference is disqualified under the joint research agreement provision of 35 U.S.C. 102(c) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) and a new subsequent double patenting rejection based upon the disqualified reference is applied, the next Office action, which contains the new double patenting rejection, may be made final even if applicant did not amend the claims (provided that the examiner introduces no other new ground of rejection that was not necessitated by either amendment or an information disclosure statement filed during the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p)). The Office action is properly made final because the new double patenting rejection was necessitated by amendment of the application by applicant.

Where the only changes in a rejection are based on treating the application to be subject to current 35 U.S.C. 102 rather than the version of 35 U.S.C. 102 in effect on March 15, 2013, (the pre-AIA version) or the reverse, and any prior art relied upon in the subsequent action was prior art under both versions of 35 U.S.C. 102, then the action may be made final. For example, if a first action relied upon a reference as being available under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) and the subsequent action relied only on the same reference under 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2), then the subsequent action may be made final assuming no new requirements or non-prior art rejections were made. See MPEP § 809.02(a) for actions which indicate generic claims as not allowable.

In the consideration of claims in an amended case where no attempt is made to point out the patentable novelty, the examiner should be on guard not to allow such claims. See MPEP § 714.04. The claims may be finally rejected if, in the opinion of the examiner, they are clearly open to rejection on grounds of record.

Form paragraph 7.40 should be used where an action is made final including new grounds of rejection necessitated by applicant’s amendment.

¶ 7.40    Action Is Final, Necessitated by Amendment

Applicant’s amendment necessitated the new ground(s) of rejection presented in this Office action. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. See MPEP § 706.07(a). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should not be used in reissue litigation cases (SSP- 1 month) or in reexamination proceedings (SSP- 1 or 2 months).
  • 2. 37 CFR 1.136(a) should not be available in a reissue litigation case and is not available in reexamination proceedings.

¶ 7.40.01    Action Is Final, Necessitated by IDS With Fee

Applicant’s submission of an information disclosure statement under 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p) on [1] prompted the new ground(s) of rejection presented in this Office action. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. See MPEP § 609.04(b). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should not be used and a final rejection is improper where there is another new ground of rejection introduced by the examiner which was not necessitated by amendment to the claims.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the information disclosure statement containing the identification of the item of information used in the new ground of rejection.

¶ 7.40.02.fti    Action Is Final, Necessitated by Invoking the Joint Research Agreement Prior Art Exclusion Under Pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c)

Applicant’s submission of the requirements for the joint research agreement prior art exclusion under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c) on [1] prompted the new double patenting rejection presented in this Office action. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. See MPEP § 706.02(l)(3). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should not be used and a final rejection is improper where there is another new ground of rejection introduced by the examiner which was not necessitated by amendment to the claims nor based on information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17.
  • 2. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the submission of the requirements for the joint research agreement prior art exclusion under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 103(c).

¶ 7.40.02.aia    Action Is Final, Necessitated by Invoking the Joint Research Agreement Prior Art Exclusion Under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C)

Applicant’s submission of the requirements for the joint research agreement prior art exclusion under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(C) on [1] prompted the new double patenting rejection presented in this Office action. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. See MPEP § 2156. Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a)37 CFR 1.36(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a)37 CFR 1.36(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph should only be used in an application filed on or after March 16, 2013, where the claims are being examined under 35 U.S.C. 102/103 as amended by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.03.aia.
  • 2. This form paragraph should not be used, and a final rejection is improper, where there is another new ground of rejection introduced by the examiner which was not necessitated by amendment to the claims nor based on information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p).
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the submission of the requirements for the joint research agreement prior art exclusion as defined under 35 U.S.C. 102(c).

706.07(b)   Final Rejection, When Proper on First Action

The claims of a new application may be finally rejected in the first Office action in those situations where (A) the new application is a continuing application of, or a substitute for, an earlier application, and (B) all claims of the new application (1) are drawn to the same invention claimed in the earlier application, and (2) would have been properly finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action if they had been entered in the earlier application.

The claims of an application for which a request for continued examination (RCE) has been filed may be finally rejected in the action immediately subsequent to the filing of the RCE (with a submission and fee under 37 CFR 1.114) where all the claims in the application after the entry of the submission under 37 CFR 1.114 (A) are drawn to the same invention claimed in the application prior to the entry of the submission under 37 CFR 1.114, and (B) would have been properly finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action if they had been entered in the application prior to the filing of the RCE under 37 CFR 1.114.

It would not be proper to make final a first Office action in a continuing or substitute application or an RCE where that application contains material which was presented in the earlier application after final rejection or closing of prosecution but was denied entry because (A) new issues were raised that required further consideration and/or search, or (B) the issue of new matter was raised.

Further, it would not be proper to make final a first Office action in a continuation-in-part application where any claim includes subject matter not present in the earlier application.

A request for an interview prior to first action on a continuing or substitute application should ordinarily be granted.

A first action final rejection should be made by using Form Paragraphs 7.41 or 7.41.03, as appropriate.

¶ 7.41    Action Is Final, First Action

This is a [1] of applicant’s earlier Application No. [2]. All claims are drawn to the same invention claimed in the earlier application and could have been finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action if they had been entered in the earlier application. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL even though it is a first action in this case. See MPEP § 706.07(b). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. In bracket 1, insert either --continuation-- or --substitute--, as appropriate.
  • 2. If an amendment was refused entry in the parent case on the grounds that it raised new issues or new matter, this form paragraph cannot be used. See MPEP § 706.07(b).
  • 3. This form paragraph should not be used in reissue litigation cases (SSP- 1 month) or in reexamination proceedings (SSP-1 or 2 months).
  • 4. 37 CFR 1.136(a) should not be available in a reissue litigation case and is not available in reexamination proceedings.

¶ 7.41.03    Action Is Final, First Action Following Submission Under 37 CFR 1.53(d), Continued Prosecution Application (CPA) in a Design Application

All claims are drawn to the same invention claimed in the parent application prior to the filing of this Continued Prosecution Application under 37 CFR 1.53(d) and could have been finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL even though it is a first action after the filing under 37 CFR 1.53(d). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is for a first action final rejection in a Continued Prosecution Application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d) (design applications only).
  • 2. This form paragraph must be preceded by one of form paragraphs 2.30 or 2.35, as appropriate.

¶ 7.42.09    Action Is Final, First Action Following Request for Continued Examination under 37 CFR 1.114

All claims are drawn to the same invention claimed in the application prior to the entry of the submission under 37 CFR 1.114 and could have been finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action if they had been entered in the application prior to entry under 37 CFR 1.114. Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL even though it is a first action after the filing of a request for continued examination and the submission under 37 CFR 1.114. See MPEP § 706.07(b). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

This form paragraph is for a first action final rejection following a Request for Continued Examination filed under 37 CFR 1.114.

706.07(c)   Final Rejection, Premature

Any question as to prematureness of a final rejection should be raised, if at all, while the application is still pending before the primary examiner. This is purely a question of practice, wholly distinct from the tenability of the rejection. It may therefore not be advanced as a ground for appeal, or made the basis of complaint before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. It is reviewable by petition under 37 CFR 1.181. See MPEP § 1002.02(c).

706.07(d)   Final Rejection, Withdrawal of, Premature

If, on request by applicant for reconsideration, the primary examiner finds the final rejection to have been premature, he or she should withdraw the finality of the rejection. The finality of the Office action must be withdrawn while the application is still pending. The examiner cannot withdraw the final rejection once the application is abandoned.

Once the finality of the Office action has been withdrawn, the next Office action may be made final if the conditions set forth in MPEP § 706.07(a) are met.

Form paragraph 7.42 should be used when withdrawing the finality of the rejection of the last Office action.

¶ 7.42    Withdrawal of Finality of Last Office Action

Applicant’s request for reconsideration of the finality of the rejection of the last Office action is persuasive and, therefore, the finality of that action is withdrawn.

706.07(e)   Withdrawal of Final Rejection, General

See MPEP § 714.12 and § 714.13 for amendments after final rejection.

Once a final rejection that is not premature has been entered in an application/reexamination proceeding, it should not be withdrawn at the applicant’s or patent owner’s request except on a showing under 37 CFR 1.116(b). Further amendment or argument will be considered in certain instances. An amendment that will place the application either in condition for allowance or in better form for appeal may be admitted. Also, amendments complying with objections or requirements as to form are to be permitted after final action in accordance with 37 CFR 1.116(a).

The examiner may withdraw the rejection of finally rejected claims. If new facts or reasons are presented such as to convince the examiner that the previously rejected claims are in fact allowable or patentable in the case of reexamination, then the final rejection should be withdrawn. Occasionally, the finality of a rejection may be withdrawn in order to apply a new ground of rejection.

Although it is permissible to withdraw a final rejection for the purpose of entering a new ground of rejection, this practice is to be limited to situations where a new reference either fully meets at least one claim or meets it except for differences which are shown to be completely obvious. Normally, the previous rejection should be withdrawn with respect to the claim or claims involved. See MPEP § 1207.03 for a discussion of what may constitute a new ground of rejection.

The practice should not be used for application of subsidiary references, or of cumulative references, or of references which are merely considered to be better than those of record.

When a final rejection is withdrawn, all amendments filed after the final rejection are ordinarily entered.

New grounds of rejection made in an Office action reopening prosecution after the filing of an appeal brief require the approval of the supervisory patent examiner. See MPEP § 1002.02(d).

706.07(f)   Time for Reply to Final Rejection

The time for reply to a final rejection is as follows:

  • (A) All final rejections setting a 3-month shortened statutory period (SSP) for reply should contain one of form paragraphs 7.39, 7.40, 7.40.01, 7.40.02.fti, 7.40.02.aia, 7.41, 7.41.03, 7.42.03.fti, 7.42.031.fti, or 7.42.09 advising applicant that if the first reply is filed within 2 months of the date of the final Office action, the shortened statutory period will expire at 3 months from the date of the final rejection or on the date the advisory action is mailed, whichever is later. Thus, a variable reply period will be established. If the last day of “2 months of the date of the final Office action” falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday within the District of Columbia, and a reply is filed on the next succeeding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday, pursuant to 37 CFR 1.7(a), the reply is deemed to have been filed within the 2 months period and the shortened statutory period will expire at 3 months from the date of the final rejection or on the mailing date of the advisory action, whichever is later (see MPEP § 710.05). In no event can the statutory period for reply expire later than 6 months from the mailing date of the final rejection.
  • (B) This procedure of setting a variable reply period in the final rejection dependent on when applicant files a first reply to a final Office action does not apply to situations where a SSP less than 3 months is set, e.g., reissue litigation applications (1-month SSP) or any reexamination proceeding.

I.   ADVISORY ACTIONS

  • (C) Where the final Office action sets a variable reply period as set forth in paragraph (A) above AND applicant files a complete first reply to the final Office action within 2 months of the date of the final Office action, the examiner must determine if the reply:
    • (1) places the application in condition for allowance — then the application should be processed as an allowance and no extension fees are due;
    • (2) places the application in condition for allowance except for matters of form which the examiner can change without authorization from applicant, MPEP § 1302.04 — then the application should be amended as required and processed as an allowance and no extension fees are due; or
    • (3) does not place the application in condition for allowance — then the advisory action should inform applicant that the SSP for reply expires 3 months from the date of the final rejection or as of the mailing date of the advisory action, whichever is later, by checking box 1.b) at the top portion of the Advisory Action form, PTOL-303.
  • (D) Where the final Office action sets a variable reply period as set forth in paragraph (A) above, and applicant does NOT file a complete first reply to the final Office action within 2 months, examiners should check box 1.a) at the top portion of the Advisory Action form, PTOL-303.
  • (E) When box 1.b) at the top portion of the Advisory Action form, PTOL-303 is checked, the time for applicant to take further action (including the calculation of extension fees under 37 CFR 1.136(a)) begins to run 3 months from the date of the final rejection, or from the date of the advisory action, whichever is later. Extension fees cannot be prorated for portions of a month. In no event can the statutory period for reply expire later than 6 months from the date of the final rejection. For example, if applicant initially replies within 2 months from the date of mailing of a final rejection and the examiner mails an advisory action before the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection, the shortened statutory period will expire at the end of 3 months from the date of mailing of the final rejection. In such case, if a petition for extension of time is granted, the due date for a reply is computed from the date stamped or printed on the Office action with the final rejection. See MPEP § 710.01(a). If the examiner, however, does not mail an advisory action until after the end of the 3-month period, the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the examiner mails the advisory action and any extension of time fee would be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action.
Form PTOL-303  Advisory Action Before the Filing of an Appeal

II.   EXAMINER’S AMENDMENTS

  • (F) Where a complete first reply to a final Office action has been filed within 2 months of the final Office action, an examiner’s amendment to place the application in condition for allowance may be made without the payment of extension fees even if the examiner’s amendment is made more than 3 months from the date of the final Office action. Note that an examiner’s amendment may not be made more than 6 months from the date of the final Office action, as the application would be abandoned at that point by operation of law.
  • (G) Where a complete first reply to a final Office action has not been filed within 2 months of the final Office action, applicant’s authorization to make an amendment to place the application in condition for allowance must be made either within the 3 month shortened statutory period or within an extended period for reply that has been petitioned and paid for by applicant pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a). However, an examiner’s amendment correcting only formal matters which are identified for the first time after a reply is made to a final Office action would not require any extension fee, since the reply to the final Office action put the application in condition for allowance except for the correction of formal matters, the correction of which had not yet been required by the examiner.
  • (H) An extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) requires a petition for an extension and the appropriate fee provided for in 37 CFR 1.17. Where an extension of time is necessary to place an application in condition for allowance (e.g., when an examiner’s amendment is necessary after the shortened statutory period for reply has expired), applicant may file the required petition and fee or give authorization to the examiner to make the petition of record and charge a specified fee to a deposit account. Office employees may not accept oral (telephonic) instructions to complete the Credit Card Payment Form or otherwise charge a patent process fee (as opposed to information product or service fees) to a credit card. When authorization to make a petition for an extension of time of record is given to the examiner, the authorization must be given before the extended period expires. The authorization must be made of record in an examiner’s amendment by indicating the name of the person making the authorization, when the authorization was given, the deposit account number to be charged, the length of the extension requested and the amount of the fee to be charged to the deposit account. Form Paragraph 13.02.02 should be used.

¶ 13.02.02    Extension of Time and Examiner’s Amendment Authorized by Telephone

An extension of time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) is required in order to make an examiner’s amendment which places this application in condition for allowance. During a telephone conversation conducted on [1], [2] requested an extension of time for [3] MONTH(S) and authorized the Director to charge Deposit Account No. [4] the required fee of $ [5] for this extension and authorized the following examiner’s amendment. Should the changes and/or additions be unacceptable to applicant, an amendment may be filed as provided by 37 CFR 1.312. To ensure consideration of such an amendment, it MUST be submitted no later than the payment of the issue fee.

Examiner Note:

See MPEP § 706.07(f) which explains when an extension of time is needed in order to make amendments to place the application in condition for allowance.

III.   PRACTICE AFTER FINAL

  • (I) Replies after final should be processed and considered promptly by all Office personnel.
  • (J) Replies after final should not be considered by the examiner unless they are filed within the SSP or are accompanied by a petition for an extension of time and the appropriate fee (37 CFR 1.17 and 37 CFR 1.136(a)). See also MPEP § 710.02(e). This requirement also applies to supplemental replies filed after the first reply.
  • (K) Interviews may be conducted after the expiration of the shortened statutory period for reply to a final Office action but within the 6-month statutory period for reply without the payment of an extension fee.
  • (L) Formal matters which are identified for the first time after a reply is made to a final Office action and which require action by applicant to correct may be required in an Ex parte Quayle action if the application is otherwise in condition for allowance. No extension fees would be required since the reply puts the application in condition for allowance except for the correction of formal matters — the correction of which had not yet been required by the examiner.
  • (M) If prosecution is to be reopened after a final Office action has been replied to, the finality of the previous Office action should be withdrawn to avoid the issue of abandonment and the payment of extension fees. For example, if a new reference comes to the attention of the examiner which renders unpatentable a claim indicated to be allowable, the Office action should begin with a statement to the effect: “The finality of the Office action mailed is hereby withdrawn in view of the new ground of rejection set forth below.” Form paragraph 7.42 could be used in addition to this statement. See MPEP § 706.07(d).

706.07(g)   Transitional After-Final Practice

37 C.F.R. 1.129   Transitional procedures for limited examination after final rejection and restriction practice.

  • (a) An applicant in an application, other than for reissue or a design patent, that has been pending for at least two years as of June 8, 1995, taking into account any reference made in such application to any earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 and 365(c), is entitled to have a first submission entered and considered on the merits after final rejection under the following circumstances: The Office will consider such a submission, if the first submission and the fee set forth in § 1.17(r) are filed prior to the filing of an appeal brief and prior to abandonment of the application. The finality of the final rejection is automatically withdrawn upon the timely filing of the submission and payment of the fee set forth in § 1.17(r). If a subsequent final rejection is made in the application, applicant is entitled to have a second submission entered and considered on the merits after the subsequent final rejection under the following circumstances: The Office will consider such a submission, if the second submission and a second fee set forth in § 1.17(r) are filed prior to the filing of an appeal brief and prior to abandonment of the application. The finality of the subsequent final rejection is automatically withdrawn upon the timely filing of the submission and payment of the second fee set forth in § 1.17(r). Any submission filed after a final rejection made in an application subsequent to the fee set forth in § 1.17(r) having been twice paid will be treated as set forth in § 1.116. A submission as used in this paragraph includes, but is not limited to, an information disclosure statement, an amendment to the written description, claims or drawings and a new substantive argument or new evidence in support of patentability.

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  • (c) The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to any application filed after June 8, 1995.

In order to facilitate the completion of prosecution of applications pending in the USPTO as of June 8, 1995 and to ease the transition between a 17-year patent term and a 20-year patent term, Public Law 103-465 provided for the further limited reexamination of an application pending for 2 years or longer as of June 8, 1995, taking into account any reference made in the application to any earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c). The further limited reexamination permits applicants to present for consideration, as a matter of right upon payment of a fee, a submission after a final rejection has been issued on an application. An applicant will be able to take advantage of this provision on two separate occasions provided the submission and fee are presented prior to the filing of the Appeal Brief and prior to abandonment of the application. This will have the effect of enabling an applicant to essentially remove the finality of the prior Office action in the pending application on two separate occasions by paying a fee for each occasion, and avoid the impact of refiling the application to obtain consideration of additional claims and/or information relative to the claimed subject matter. The transitional after-final practice is only available to applications filed on or before June 8, 1995 and it is not available for reissue or design applications or reexamination proceedings.

The following flowchart illustrates the transitional after-final procedures set forth in 37 CFR 1.129(a).

Flowchart. Transitional After-Final Provision - 37 CFR 1.129(a), Starting June 8, 1995

Effective June 8, 1995, in any pending application having an actual or effective filing date of June 8, 1993 or earlier, applicant is entitled, under 37 CFR 1.129(a), to have a first submission after final rejection entered and considered on the merits, if the submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) are filed prior to the filing of an Appeal Brief under 37 CFR 41.37and prior to abandonment. For an application entering national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 or an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120 of a PCT application designating the U.S., the PCT international filing date will be used to determine whether the application has been pending for at least 2 years as of June 8, 1995.

Form paragraph 7.41.01.fti may be used to notify applicant that the application qualifies under 37 CFR 1.129(a).

¶ 7.41.01.fti    Transitional After Final Practice, First Submission (37 CFR 1.129(a))

This application is subject to the provisions of Public Law 103-465, effective June 8, 1995. Accordingly, since this application has been pending for at least two years as of June 8, 1995, taking into account any reference to an earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), applicant, under 37 CFR 1.129(a), is entitled to have a first submission entered and considered on the merits if, prior to abandonment, the submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) are filed prior to the filing of an appeal brief under 37 CFR 41.37. Upon the timely filing of a first submission and the appropriate fee of $[1] for a [2] entity under 37 CFR 1.17(r), the finality of the previous Office action will be withdrawn. If a notice of appeal and the appeal fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b) were filed prior to or with the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) by applicant will be construed as a request to dismiss the appeal and to continue prosecution under 37 CFR 1.129(a). In view of 35 U.S.C. 132, no amendment considered as a result of payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) may introduce new matter into the disclosure of the application.

If applicant has filed multiple proposed amendments which, when entered, would conflict with one another, specific instructions for entry or non-entry of each such amendment should be provided upon payment of any fee under 37 CFR 1.17(r).

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph may follow any of form paragraphs 7.39 - 7.41 in any application filed prior to June 9, 1995, which has been pending for at least two years as of June 8, 1995, taking into account any reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to a previously filed application and no previous fee has been paid under 37 CFR 1.17(r).
  • 2. This form paragraph should NOT be used in a design or reissue application, or in a reexamination proceeding.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the current fee for a large or small entity, as appropriate.
  • 4. In bracket 2, insert --small-- or --large--, depending on the current status of the application.

The submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) may comprise, but is not limited to, an information disclosure statement (IDS), an amendment to the written description, claims or drawings, a new substantive argument and/or new evidence. No amendment considered as a result of payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) may introduce new matter into the disclosure of the application 35 U.S.C. 132. In view of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), any (IDS) previously refused consideration in the application because of applicant’s failure to comply with 37 CFR 1.97(c) or (d) will be treated as though it has been filed within one of the time periods set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(b) and will be considered without the petition and petition fee required in 37 CFR 1.97(d), if it complies with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.98. Any IDS submitted under 37 CFR 1.129(a)on or after June 8, 2005 without a statement specified in 37 CFR 1.97(e) will be treated as though it had been filed within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). The examiner may introduce a new ground of rejection based on the information submitted in the IDS and make the next Office action final provided that the examiner introduces no other new ground of rejection, which has not been necessitated by amendment to the claims. See MPEP § 706.07(a).

If the application qualifies under 37 CFR 1.129(a), that is, it was filed on or before June 8, 1995 and the application has an effective U.S. filing date of June 8, 1993 or earlier, the examiner must check to see if the submission and 37 CFR 1.17(r) fee were filed prior to the filing of the Appeal Brief and prior to abandonment of the application. If an amendment was timely filed in reply to the final rejection but the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) did not accompany the amendment, examiners will continue to consider these amendments in an expedited manner as set forth in MPEP § 714.13 and issue an advisory action notifying applicant whether the amendment has been entered. If the examiner indicated in an advisory action that the amendment has not been entered, applicant may then pay the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) and any necessary fee to avoid abandonment of the application and obtain entry and consideration of the amendment as a submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a). If the submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) were timely filed in reply to the final rejection and no advisory action has been issued prior to the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), no advisory action will be necessary. The examiner will notify applicant that the finality of the previous office action has been withdrawn pursuant to 37 CFR 1.129(a). It is noted that if the submission is accompanied by a “conditional” payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), i.e., an authorization to charge the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) to a deposit account or to a credit card in the event that the submission would not otherwise be entered, the Office will treat the conditional payment as an unconditional payment of the 37 CFR 1.17(r) fee.

The finality of the final rejection is automatically withdrawn upon the timely filing of the submission and payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r). Upon the timely payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), all previously unentered submissions, and submissions filed with the 37 CFR 1.17(r) fee will be entered in the order in which they were filed absent specific instructions for entry. Any conflicting amendments should be clarified for entry by the applicant upon payment of the 37 CFR 1.17(r) fee. Form paragraph 7.42.01.fti should be used to notify applicant that the finality of the previous Office action has been withdrawn.

¶ 7.42.01.fti    Withdrawal of Finality of Last Office Action - Transitional Application Under 37 CFR 1.129(a)

Since this application is eligible for the transitional procedure of37 CFR 1.129(a), and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) has been timely paid, the finality of the previous Office action has been withdrawn pursuant to 37 CFR 1.129(a). Applicant’s [1] submission after final filed on [2] has been entered.

Examiner Note:

  • Insert --first-- or --second-- in bracket 1.

If a Notice of Appeal and the appeal fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(b) were filed prior to or with the payment of the fee set forth 37 CFR 1.17(r), the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) by applicant is construed as a request to dismiss the appeal and to continue prosecution under 37 CFR 1.129(a).

Upon the timely payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), if the examiner determines that the submission is not fully responsive to the previous Office action, e.g., if the submission only includes an information disclosure statement, applicant will be given a new shortened statutory period of 1 month or 30 days, whichever is longer, to submit a complete reply. Form paragraph 7.42.02.fti should be used.

¶ 7.42.02.fti    Nonresponsive Submission Filed Under 37 CFR 1.129(a)

The timely submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) filed on [1] is not fully responsive to the prior Office action because [2]. Since the submission appears to be a bona fide attempt to provide a complete reply to the prior Office action, applicant is given a shortened statutory period of ONE MONTH or THIRTY DAYS from the mailing date of this letter, whichever is longer, to submit a complete reply. This shortened statutory period supersedes the time period set in the prior Office action. This time period may be extended pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a). If a notice of appeal and the appeal fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b) were filed prior to or with the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) by applicant is construed as a request to dismiss the appeal and to continue prosecution under 37 CFR 1.129(a). The appeal stands dismissed.

Examiner Note:

The reasons why the examiner considers the submission not to be fully responsive must be set forth in bracket 2.

I.   SUBMISSIONS UNDER 37 CFR 1.129(a) FILED PRIOR TO JUNE 8, 2005

After submission and payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), the next Office action on the merits may be made final only under the conditions for making a first action in a continuing application final set forth in MPEP § 706.07(b).

Form paragraph 7.42.03.fti may be used if it is appropriate to make the first action final following a submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) filed prior to June 8, 2005.

¶ 7.42.03.fti    Action Is Final, First Action Following Submission Under 37 CFR 1.129(a) Filed Prior to June 8, 2005

All claims are drawn to the same invention claimed in the application prior to the entry of the submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) and could have been finally rejected on the grounds and art of record in the next Office action if they had been entered in the application prior to entry under 37 CFR 1.129(a). Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL even though it is a first action after the submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a). See MPEP § 706.07(b). Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

Also use form paragraph 7.41.02.fti if this is a final rejection following a first submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a).

If a subsequent final rejection is made in the application, applicant would be entitled to have a second submission entered and considered on the merits under the same conditions set forth for consideration of the first submission. Form paragraph 7.41.02.fti should be used.

¶ 7.41.02.fti    Transitional After Final Practice, Second Submission (37 CFR 1.129(a))

Since the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) for a first submission subsequent to a final rejection has been previously paid, applicant, under 37 CFR 1.129(a), is entitled to have a second submission entered and considered on the merits if, prior to abandonment, the second submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) are filed prior to the filing of an appeal brief under 37 CFR 41.37. Upon the timely filing of a second submission and the appropriate fee of $[1] for a [2] entity under 37 CFR 1.17(r), the finality of the previous Office action will be withdrawn. If a notice of appeal and the appeal fee set forth in 37 CFR 41.20(b) were filed prior to or with the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r), the payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) by applicant will be construed as a request to dismiss the appeal and to continue prosecution under 37 CFR 1.129(a). In view of 35 U.S.C. 132, no amendment considered as a result of payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) may introduce new matter into the disclosure of the application.

Examiner Note:

  • 1. This form paragraph is to follow any of form paragraphs 7.39 - 7.41 in any application filed prior to June 9, 1995, which has been pending for at least two years as of June 8, 1995, taking into account any reference under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to a previously filed application and a first submission fee has been previously paid under 37 CFR 1.17(r).
  • 2. This form paragraph should NOT be used in a design or reissue application or in a reexamination proceeding.
  • 3. In bracket 1, insert the current fee for a large or small entity, as appropriate.
  • 4. In bracket 2, insert --small-- or --large--, depending on the current status of the application.
  • 5. If the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) has been twice paid, the provisions of 37 CFR 1.129(a) are no longer available.

Any submission filed after a final rejection made in the application subsequent to the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) having been twice paid will be treated in accordance with the current after-final practice set forth in 37 CFR 1.116.

II.   SUBMISSIONS UNDER 37 CFR 1.129(a) FILED ON OR AFTER JUNE 8, 2005

For timely submission and payment of the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(r) on or after June 8, 2005, the next Office action on the merits will be equivalent to the next Office action following a reply to a non-final Office action. Under existing second Office action final practice, such an Office action on the merits will be made final, except where the examiner introduces a new ground of rejection that is neither necessitated by applicant’s amendment of the claims nor based on information submitted in an IDS filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). See MPEP § 706.07(a).

Form paragraph 7.42.031.fti may be used to make the next Office action final following a submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) filed on or after June 8, 2005.

¶ 7.42.031.fti    Action Is Final, Action Following Submission Under 37 CFR 1.129(a) Filed On or After June 8, 2005

Under the final action practice for Office actions following a submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) filed on or after June 8, 2005, the next Office action following timely filing of a submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) will be equivalent to the next Office action following a reply to a non-final Office action. Under existing Office second action final practice, such an Office action on the merits will be made final, except where the examiner introduces a new ground of rejection that is neither necessitated by applicant’s amendment of the claims nor based on information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). See MPEP § 706.07(a).

In this Office action, there is no new ground of rejection that was not necessitated by applicant’s amendment of the claims or based on information submitted in an information disclosure statement filed during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). Accordingly, THIS ACTION IS MADE FINAL. Applicant is reminded of the extension of time policy as set forth in 37 CFR 1.136(a).

A shortened statutory period for reply to this final action is set to expire THREE MONTHS from the mailing date of this action. In the event a first reply is filed within TWO MONTHS of the mailing date of this final action and the advisory action is not mailed until after the end of the THREE-MONTH shortened statutory period, then the shortened statutory period will expire on the date the advisory action is mailed, and any extension fee pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) will be calculated from the mailing date of the advisory action. In no event, however, will the statutory period for reply expire later than SIX MONTHS from the mailing date of this final action.

Examiner Note:

Also use form paragraph 7.41.02.fti if this is a final rejection following a first submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a)

An applicant whose application is eligible for the transitional further limited examination procedure set forth in 37 CFR 1.129(a) is entitled to consideration of two after final submissions. Thus, if such an applicant has filed one submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a) and the application is again under a final rejection, the applicant is entitled to only one additional submission under 37 CFR 1.129(a). If such an applicant has filed two submissions under 37 CFR 1.129(a) and the application is again under a final rejection, applicant is not entitled to have any additional submissions considered under 37 CFR 1.129(a). Applicant may be entitled to consideration of an additional submission if the submission meets the conditions set forth in 37 CFR 1.116.

706.07(h)   Request for Continued Examination (RCE) Practice

35 U.S.C. 132   Notice of rejection; reexamination.

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  • (b) The Director shall prescribe regulations to provide for the continued examination of applications for patent at the request of the applicant. The Director may establish appropriate fees for such continued examination and shall provide a 50 percent reduction in such fees for small entities that qualify for reduced fees under section 41(h)(1).

37 C.F.R. 1.114   Request for continued examination.

  • (a) If prosecution in an application is closed, an applicant may request continued examination of the application by filing a submission and the fee set forth in § 1.17(e) prior to the earliest of:
    • (1) Payment of the issue fee, unless a petition under § 1.313 is granted;
    • (2) Abandonment of the application; or
    • (3) The filing of a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit under 35 U.S.C. 141, or the commencement of a civil action under 35 U.S.C. 145 or 146, unless the appeal or civil action is terminated.
  • (b) Prosecution in an application is closed as used in this section means that the application is under appeal, or that the last Office action is a final action (§ 1.113), a notice of allowance (§ 1.311), or an action that otherwise closes prosecution in the application.
  • (c) A submission as used in this section includes, but is not limited to, an information disclosure statement, an amendment to the written description, claims, or drawings, new arguments, or new evidence in support of patentability. If reply to an Office action under 35 U.S.C. 132 is outstanding, the submission must meet the reply requirements of § 1.111.
  • (d) If an applicant timely files a submission and fee set forth in § 1.17(e), the Office will withdraw the finality of any Office action and the submission will be entered and considered. If an applicant files a request for continued examination under this section after appeal, but prior to a decision on the appeal, it will be treated as a request to withdraw the appeal and to reopen prosecution of the application before the examiner. An appeal brief (§ 41.37 of this title) or a reply brief (§ 41.41 of this title), or related papers, will not be considered a submission under this section.
  • (e) The provisions of this section do not apply to:
    • (1) A provisional application;
    • (2) An application for a utility or plant patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) before June 8, 1995;
    • (3) An international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 before June 8, 1995;
    • (4) An application for a design patent; or
    • (5) A patent under reexamination.

35 U.S.C. 132(b) provides for continued examination of an application at the request of the applicant (request for continued examination or RCE) upon payment of a fee, without requiring the applicant to file a continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b). To implement the RCE practice, 37 CFR 1.114 provides a procedure under which an applicant may obtain continued examination of an application in which prosecution is closed (e.g., the application is under final rejection or a notice of allowance) by filing a submission and paying a specified fee. Applicants cannot file an RCE to obtain continued examination on the basis of claims that are independent and distinct from the claims previously claimed and examined as a matter of right (i.e., applicant cannot switch inventions). See 37 CFR 1.145. Any newly submitted claims that are directed to an invention that is independent and distinct from the invention previously claimed will be withdrawn from consideration and not entered. See subsection VI. below. An RCE is not the filing of a new application. Thus, the Office will not convert an RCE to a new application such as an application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) or a continued prosecution application (CPA) under 37 CFR 1.53(d).

I.   CONDITIONS FOR FILING AN RCE

The provisions of 37 CFR 1.114 apply to utility or plant applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) on or after June 8, 1995, or international applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 on or after June 8, 1995. The RCE provisions of 37 CFR 1.114 do not apply to:

  • (A) a provisional application;
  • (B) an application for a utility or plant patent filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) before June 8, 1995;
  • (C) an international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 before June 8, 1995;
  • (D) an application for a design patent; or
  • (E) a patent under reexamination.

See 37 CFR 1.114(e).

An applicant may obtain continued examination of an application by filing a request for continued examination (see form PTO/SB/30), a submission and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(e) prior to the earliest of:

  • (A) payment of the issue fee (unless a petition under 37 CFR 1.313 is granted);
  • (B) abandonment of the application; or
  • (C) the filing of a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or the commencement of a civil action (unless the appeal or civil action is terminated).

See 37 CFR 1.114(a). An applicant cannot request continued examination of an application until after prosecution in the application is closed. See 37 CFR 1.114(a). Prosecution in an application is closed if the application is under appeal, or the last Office action is a final action (37 CFR 1.113), a notice of allowance (37 CFR 1.311), or an action that otherwise closes prosecution in the application (e.g., an Office action under Ex parte Quayle, 25 USPQ 74, 453 O.G. 213 (Comm’r Pat. 1935)).

II.   SUBMISSION REQUIREMENT

A “submission” as used in 37 CFR 1.114 includes, but is not limited to, an information disclosure statement, an amendment to the written description, claims, or drawings, new arguments, or new evidence in support of patentability. See 37 CFR 1.114(c). If a reply to an Office action under 35 U.S.C. 132 is outstanding, the submission must meet the reply requirements of 37 CFR 1.111. See 37 CFR 1.114(c). Thus, an applicant may file a submission under 37 CFR 1.114 containing only an information disclosure statement (37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98) in an application subject to a notice of allowance under 35 U.S.C. 151, but not in an application where the last Office action is a final rejection or an Office action under Ex parte Quayle, 25 USPQ 74, 453 O.G. 213 (Comm’r Pat. 1935), or in an application that is under appeal. A request for a suspension of action, an appeal brief or a reply brief (or related papers) will not be considered a submission under 37 CFR 1.114. See 37 CFR 1.103 and 1.114(d). The submission, however, may consist of the arguments in a previously filed appeal brief or reply brief, or may simply consist of a statement that incorporates by reference the arguments in a previously filed appeal brief or reply brief. In addition, a previously filed amendment after final (whether or not entered) may satisfy this submission requirement.

Arguments submitted after final rejection, which were entered by the examiner but not found persuasive, may satisfy the submission requirement if such arguments are responsive within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.111 to the Office action. Consideration of whether any submission is responsive within the meaning of 37 CFR 1.111 to the last outstanding Office action is done without factoring in the “final” status of such outstanding Office action. Thus, a reply which might not be acceptable as a reply under 37 CFR 1.113 when the application is under a final rejection may be acceptable as a reply under 37 CFR 1.111.

Status of the Application The Submission: For More Information
After Final Must include a reply under 37 CFR 1.111 to the final rejection (e.g., an amendment filed with the RCE or a previously-filed after final amendment). See subsections V. and VI.
After Ex Parte Quayle action Must include a reply to the Ex Parte Quayle action. See subsection IX.
After allowance Includes, but not limited to, an IDS, amendment, new arguments, or new evidence. See subsection IX.
After appeal Must include a reply under 37 CFR 1.111 to the final rejection (e.g., a statement that incorporates by reference the arguments in a previously filed appeal brief or reply brief). See subsections X., XI., and XII.

III.   INITIAL PROCESSING

An RCE will be initially processed by the Technology Center (TC) assigned the application. Technical support personnel in the TC will verify that:

  • (A) the RCE was filed on or after May 29, 2000;
  • (B) the application was filed on or after June 8, 1995;
  • (C) the application is a utility or plant application (e.g., not a design application);
  • (D) the application was pending (i.e., not patented or abandoned) when the RCE was filed;
  • (E) prosecution in the application is closed (e.g., the last Office action is a final rejection, notice of allowance, or an Office action under Ex parte Quayle, 25 USPQ 74, 453 O.G. 213 (Comm’r Pat. 1935), or the application is under appeal);
  • (F) the RCE was filed before the payment of the issue fee or, if not, a petition under 37 CFR 1.313 to withdraw the application from issue was filed and granted;
  • (G) the RCE was accompanied by the proper fee(s) including the RCE fee under 37 CFR 1.17(e); and