Question #2 from the April 2003 (AM) patent bar exam is reported by exam takers as a question in the current exam database.
2. A registered practitioner filed in the USPTO a client’s utility patent application on December 30, 2002. The application was filed with a request for nonpublication, certifying that the invention disclosed in the U.S. application has not and will not be the subject of an application in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires eighteen month publication. Subsequently, the client files an application in Japan on the invention and some recent improvements to the invention. The improvements are not disclosed or supported in the utility application. Japan is a country that requires eighteen month publication. Two months after filing the application in Japan, and before filing any other papers in the USPTO, the client remembers that a nonpublication request was filed and informs the practitioner about the application that was filed in Japan. Which of the following courses of action is in accordance with the USPTO rules and the procedures set forth in the MPEP?
(A) The application is abandoned because the practitioner did not rescind the nonpublication request and provide notice of foreign filing within 45 days of having filed the application in Japan. The applicant must now file a petition and fee to revive under 37 CFR 1.137(b).
(B) The application is abandoned because the applicant did not rescind the nonpublication request before filing the application in Japan. The applicant must now file a petition and fee to revive under 37 CFR 1.137(b).
(C) The applicant should file an amendment to the specification of the U.S. application, adding the recent improvements to the disclosure in the specification.
(D) The application is abandoned because the applicant did not rescind the nonpublication request by notifying the Office under 37 CFR 1.213(c) within the appropriate time. The applicant must now file a petition and fee to revive under 37 CFR 1.137(b).
(E) The applicant could today notify the USPTO of the foreign filing. It is not necessary to file a petition and fee to revive for the application to continue to be examined in the USPTO.
ANSWER: (A) and (D) are accepted as the correct answers. Regarding answer (A), see 35 U.S.C. § 122(b)(2)(B)(iii); 37 CFR § 1.213; MPEP § 901.03 for information on nonpublication requests. See 37 CFR § 1.137(f); MPEP § 711.03(c), under the heading “3. Abandonment for Failure to Notify the Office of a Foreign Filing After Submission of a Non-Publication Request.” (D) was also accepted because the statement characterizes the status of the application as being abandoned, though the application has not necessarily attained abandoned status. The course of action postulated in (D) is a proper reply if the application was abandoned. Accordingly, (D) was accepted as a correct answer under these circumstances. (B) is incorrect. The notice of foreign filing can be filed as late as 45 days after the foreign filing before the U.S. application becomes abandoned. (C) is incorrect. See MPEP § 608.04(a). The improvements would constitute new matter and new matter cannot be added to the disclosure of an application after the filing date of the application. (E) is not correct. The applicant was required to provide notice of foreign filing within 45 days of filing in Japan, and two months have passed. As a result, a petition to revive under 37 CFR § 1.137(b) is required for examination to continue. Also see 37 CFR § 1.137(f).