37 CFR 1.14 - Patent applications preserved in confidence.

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§ 1.14 Patent applications preserved in confidence.

(a) Confidentiality of patent application information. Patent applications that have not been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) are generally preserved in confidence pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 122(a). Information concerning the filing, pendency, or subject matter of an application for patent, including status information, and access to the application, will only be given to the public as set forth in § 1.11 or in this section.

(1) Records associated with patent applications (see paragraph (g) of this section for international applications and paragraph (j) of this section for international design applications) may be available in the following situations:

(i) Patented applications and statutory invention registrations. The file of an application that has issued as a patent or published as a statutory invention registration is available to the public as set forth in § 1.11(a). A copy of the patent application-as-filed, the file contents of the application, or a specific document in the file of such an application may be provided upon request and payment of the appropriate fee set forth in § 1.19(b).

(ii) Published abandoned applications. The file of an abandoned published application is available to the public as set forth in § 1.11(a). A copy of the application-as-filed, the file contents of the published application, or a specific document in the file of the published application may be provided to any person upon request and payment of the appropriate fee set forth in § 1.19(b).

(iii) Published pending applications. A copy of the application-as-filed, the file contents of the application, or a specific document in the file of a pending published application may be provided to any person upon request and payment of the appropriate fee set forth in § 1.19(b). If a redacted copy of the application was used for the patent application publication, the copy of the specification, drawings, and papers may be limited to a redacted copy. The Office will not provide access to the paper file of a pending application that has been published, except as provided in paragraph (c) or (i) of this section.

(iv) Unpublished abandoned applications (including provisional applications) that are identified or relied upon. The file contents of an unpublished, abandoned application may be made available to the public if the application is identified in a U.S. patent, a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3) of an international design application designating the United States. An application is considered to have been identified in a document, such as a patent, when the application number or serial number and filing date, first named inventor, title, and filing date or other application specific information are provided in the text of the patent, but not when the same identification is made in a paper in the file contents of the patent and is not included in the printed patent. Also, the file contents may be made available to the public, upon a written request, if benefit of the abandoned application is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) in an application that has issued as a U.S. patent, or has published as a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3). A copy of the application-as-filed, the file contents of the application, or a specific document in the file of the application may be provided to any person upon written request and payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)).

(v) Unpublished pending applications (including provisional applications) whose benefit is claimed. A copy of the file contents of an unpublished pending application may be provided to any person, upon written request and payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)), if the benefit of the application is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) in an application that has issued as a U.S. patent, or in an application that has published as a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3). A copy of the application-as-filed or a specific document in the file of the pending application may also be provided to any person upon written request and payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)). The Office will not provide access to the paper file of a pending application, except as provided in paragraph (c) or (i) of this section.

(vi) Unpublished pending applications (including provisional applications) that are incorporated by reference or otherwise identified. A copy of the application as originally filed of an unpublished pending application may be provided to any person, upon written request and payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)), if the application is incorporated by reference or otherwise identified in a U.S. patent, a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3) of an international design application designating the United States. The Office will not provide access to the paper file of a pending application, except as provided in paragraph (c) or (i) of this section.

(vii) When a petition for access or a power to inspect is required. Applications that were not published or patented, that are not the subject of a benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) in an application that has issued as a U.S. patent, an application that has published as a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3), or are not identified in a U.S. patent, a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent application publication, an international publication of an international application under PCT Article 21(2), or a publication of an international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3) of an international design application designating the United States, are not available to the public. If an application is identified in the file contents of another application, but not the published patent application or patent itself, a granted petition for access (see paragraph (i)) or a power to inspect (see paragraph (c) of this section) is necessary to obtain the application, or a copy of the application.

(2) Information concerning a patent application may be communicated to the public if the patent application is identified in a published patent document or in an application as set forth in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (a)(1)(vi) of this section. The information that may be communicated to the public (i.e., status information) includes:

(i) Whether the application is pending, abandoned, or patented;

(ii) Whether the application has been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b);

(iii) The application “numerical identifier” which may be:

(A) The eight-digit application number (the two-digit series code plus the six-digit serial number); or

(B) The six-digit serial number plus any one of the filing date of the national application, the international filing date, or date of entry into the national stage; and

(iv) Whether another application claims the benefit of the application (i.e., whether there are any applications that claim the benefit of the filing date under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365, or 386 of the application), and if there are any such applications, the numerical identifier of the application, the specified relationship between the applications (e.g., continuation), whether the application is pending, abandoned or patented, and whether the application has been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b).

(b) Electronic access to an application. Where a copy of the application file or access to the application may be made available pursuant to this section, the Office may at its discretion provide access to only an electronic copy of the specification, drawings, and file contents of the application.

(c) Power to inspect a pending or abandoned application. Access to an application may be provided to any person if the application file is available, and the application contains written authority (e.g., a power to inspect) granting access to such person. The written authority must be signed by:

(1) The applicant;

(2) A patent practitioner of record;

(3) The assignee or an assignee of an undivided part interest;

(4) The inventor or a joint inventor; or

(5) A registered attorney or agent named in the papers accompanying the application papers filed under § 1.53 or the national stage documents filed under § 1.495, if a power of attorney has not been appointed under § 1.32.

(d) Applications reported to Department of Energy. Applications for patents which appear to disclose, purport to disclose or do disclose inventions or discoveries relating to atomic energy are reported to the Department of Energy, which Department will be given access to the applications. Such reporting does not constitute a determination that the subject matter of each application so reported is in fact useful or is an invention or discovery, or that such application in fact discloses subject matter in categories specified by 42 U.S.C. 2181(c) and (d).

(e) Decisions by the Director. Any decision by the Director that would not otherwise be open to public inspection may be published or made available for public inspection if:

(1) The Director believes the decision involves an interpretation of patent laws or regulations that would be of precedential value; and

(2) The applicant is given notice and an opportunity to object in writing within two months on the ground that the decision discloses a trade secret or other confidential information. Any objection must identify the deletions in the text of the decision considered necessary to protect the information, or explain why the entire decision must be withheld from the public to protect such information. An applicant or party will be given time, not less than twenty days, to request reconsideration and seek court review before any portions of a decision are made public under this paragraph over his or her objection.

(f) Notice to inventor of the filing of an application. The Office may publish notice in the Official Gazette as to the filing of an application on behalf of an inventor by a person who otherwise shows sufficient proprietary interest in the matter.

(g) International applications.

(1) Copies of international application files for international applications which designate the U.S. and which have been published in accordance with PCT Article 21(2), or copies of a document in such application files, will be furnished in accordance with PCT Articles 30 and 38 and PCT Rules 94.2 and 94.3, upon written request including a showing that the publication of the application has occurred and that the U.S. was designated, and upon payment of the appropriate fee (see § 1.19(b)), if:

(i) With respect to the Home Copy (the copy of the international application kept by the Office in its capacity as the Receiving Office, see PCT Article 12(1)), the international application was filed with the U.S. Receiving Office;

(ii) With respect to the Search Copy (the copy of an international application kept by the Office in its capacity as the International Searching Authority, see PCT Article 12(1)), the U.S. acted as the International Searching Authority, except for the written opinion of the International Searching Authority which shall not be available until the expiration of thirty months from the priority date; or

(iii) With respect to the Examination Copy (the copy of an international application kept by the Office in its capacity as the International Preliminary Examining Authority), the United States acted as the International Preliminary Examining Authority, an International Preliminary Examination Report has issued, and the United States was elected.

(2) A copy of an English language translation of a publication of an international application which has been filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 154(d)(4) will be furnished upon written request including a showing that the publication of the application in accordance with PCT Article 21(2) has occurred and that the U.S. was designated, and upon payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)(4)).

(3) Access to international application files for international applications which designate the U.S. and which have been published in accordance with PCT Article 21(2), or copies of a document in such application files, will be permitted in accordance with PCT Articles 30 and 38 and PCT Rules 44ter.1, 94.2 and 94.3, upon written request including a showing that the publication of the application has occurred and that the U.S. was designated.

(4) In accordance with PCT Article 30, copies of an international application-as-filed under paragraph (a) of this section will not be provided prior to the international publication of the application pursuant to PCT Article 21(2).

(5) Access to international application files under paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (a)(1)(vi) and (g)(3) of this section will not be permitted with respect to the Examination Copy in accordance with PCT Article 38.

(h) Access by a Foreign Intellectual Property Office.

(1) Access to an application-as-filed may be provided to any foreign intellectual property office participating with the Office in a bilateral or multilateral priority document exchange agreement (participating foreign intellectual property office), if the application contains written authority granting such access. Written authority provided under this paragraph (h)(1) will be treated as authorizing the Office to provide the following to all participating foreign intellectual property offices in accordance with their respective agreements with the Office:

(i) A copy of the application-as-filed and its related bibliographic data;

(ii) A copy of the application-as-filed of any application the filing date of which is claimed by the application in which written authority under this paragraph (h)(1) is filed and its related bibliographic data; and

(iii) The date of filing of the written authorization under this paragraph (h)(1).

(2) Access to the file contents of an application may be provided to a foreign intellectual property office that has imposed a requirement for information on a counterpart application filed with the foreign intellectual property office where the foreign intellectual property office is a party to a bilateral or multilateral agreement with the Office to provide the required information from the application filed with the Office and the application contains written authority granting such access. Written authority provided under this paragraph (h)(2) will be treated as authorizing the Office to provide the following to all foreign intellectual property offices in accordance with their respective agreements with the Office:

(i) Bibliographic data related to the application; and

(ii) Any content of the application file necessary to satisfy the foreign intellectual property office requirement for information imposed on the counterpart application as indicated in the respective agreement.

(3) Written authority provided under paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this section must include the title of the invention (§ 1.72(a)), comply with the requirements of paragraph (c) of this section, and be submitted on an application data sheet (§ 1.76) or on a separate document (§ 1.4(c)). The written authority provided under these paragraphs should be submitted before filing any subsequent foreign application in which priority is claimed to the application.

(i) Access or copies in other circumstances. The Office, either sua sponte or on petition, may also provide access or copies of all or part of an application if necessary to carry out an Act of Congress or if warranted by other special circumstances. Any petition by a member of the public seeking access to, or copies of, all or part of any pending or abandoned application preserved in confidence pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, or any related papers, must include:

(1) The fee set forth in § 1.17(g); and

(2) A showing that access to the application is necessary to carry out an Act of Congress or that special circumstances exist which warrant petitioner being granted access to all or part of the application.

(j) International design applications.

(1) With respect to an international design application maintained by the Office in its capacity as a designated office (§ 1.1003) for national processing, the records associated with the international design application may be made available as provided under paragraphs (a) through (i) of this section.

(2) With respect to an international design application maintained by the Office in its capacity as an office of indirect filing (§ 1.1002), the records of the international design application may be made available under paragraph (j)(1) of this section where contained in the file of the international design application maintained by the Office for national processing. Also, if benefit of the international design application is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 386(c) in a U.S. patent or published application, the file contents of the application may be made available to the public, or the file contents of the application, a copy of the application-as-filed, or a specific document in the file of the application may be provided to any person upon written request and payment of the appropriate fee (§ 1.19(b)).

[68 FR 38624, June 30, 2003, as amended at 68 FR 59886, Oct. 20, 2003; 68 FR 67805, Dec. 4, 2003; 68 FR 71006, Dec. 22, 2003; 69 FR 49997, Aug. 12, 2004; 69 FR 56536, Sept. 21, 2004; 72 FR 1667, Jan. 16, 2007; 77 FR 48812, Aug. 14, 2012; 78 FR 11052, Feb. 14, 2013; 80 FR 17953, Apr. 2, 2015; 80 FR 65655, Oct. 27, 2015]

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

This list is taken from the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules provided by GPO [Government Printing Office].

It is not guaranteed to be accurate or up-to-date, though we do refresh the database weekly. More limitations on accuracy are described at the GPO site.


United States Code
U.S. Code: Title 35 - PATENTS

Title 37 published on 2014-07-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 37 CFR Part 1 after this date.

  • 2015-10-27; vol. 80 # 207 - Tuesday, October 27, 2015
    1. 80 FR 65649 - Changes To Facilitate Applicant's Authorization of Access to Unpublished U.S. Patent Applications by Foreign Intellectual Property Offices
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, Patent and Trademark Office
      Final rule.
      Effective Date: The changes in this final rule are effective on November 30, 2015. The revised ADS form (PTO/AIA/14) will be posted on the Office's Web site on or before the effective date. Applicability Date: The changes to 37 CFR 1.14(h) apply to all patent applications filed before November 30, 2015, and to all patent applications filed on or after November 30, 2015.
      37 CFR Part 1
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