Information on the Status of an Application – is only available to an inventor, attorney of record, assignee of record, or a person with written authority from previous; and includes only the following:
· whether the application is pending, abandoned, or patented;
· the application number and filing date; and
· whether one or more applications claims the benefit of the filing date of the application in question, and, if there are such other applications, the application numbers, filing dates, and their status
Power to Inspect Application – no one but the applicant, her legal representative, assignee, or attorney of record may have access to any pending application, except reissue applications, unless written authority is given from one of these parties or the Commissioner.
Right of Public to Inspect (patent and application files)
Issued Patents – after a patent has been issued, all patent documents and papers relating to the case in the patent file are available for inspection by the public; other information open to the public includes: reissue applications; papers relating to reexamination proceedings; and any interference files, as long as the interference has terminated.
Pending Applications – Anyone can view the contents of the application without notice to the applicant, if:
1) the application has been published;
2) the Commissioner determines it is necessary for the proper conduct of PTO business;
3) the application falls in one of the categories (patent issued or a pending application which is incorporated by reference in a US patent);
4) written authority has been granted by the applicant, assignee, or attorney of record; or
5) the application is abandoned, unless 1) it is in the file jacket of a pending application under the CPA regulations, and 2) it is referred to in a US patent; or is referred to in a US app open to public inspection; or claims the benefit of the filing date of a US application open to public inspection; or the applicant has authorized the app to be open to public.
Provisional applications – access will only be given to parties with written authority from a named inventor, the assignee, or the attorney.
Reissues – all reissues filed after March 1, 1977 are inspectable by public.
Reexams – All requests for reexams are available to public.
Decisions of PTO – will be made public if: commissioner believes the decision has important precedent value, and none of the involved parties object within 2 months.
Petition – any member of public may petition to access a pending or abandoned application.
Secrecy, National Security and Foreign Filing
Secrecy Order – prevents disclosure of the subject matter to anyone without the express written consent of the Commissioner. Remains in effect for one year and can be renewed.
National Security – must always be filed in home country first
Foreign Filing Licenses – there are two ways to get permission to file abroad: 1) file a petition for a foreign filing license; or 2) wait six months after filing an application. A retroactive license may be pursued if an unlicensed foreign filing has occurred through error and without deceptive intent. In order to obtain a retroactive license, the applicant must provide a list of countries the application has been filed. A foreign filing license may be revoked by the PTO, and foreign filings that occurred prior to the revocation need not be abandoned.