Test takers report a #22 from the October 2003 (AM) patent bar exam is in the current question pool.
22. Application Number A was published as U.S. Patent Application Publication Number B. A member of the public reviewed the listing of the file contents of the application on the Patent Application Information Retrieval system and determined that the application was still pending, that a final Office action was mailed, and that the application file is in the Technology Center where it is being examined. The member of the public does not have a power to inspect, but would like a copy of the final Office action as well as the other papers in the patent application. In accordance with the patent laws, rules and procedures as related in the MPEP, can a copy of these papers be obtained by the member of the public, and if so, how can the copy be obtained?
(A) No, a copy cannot be obtained because patent applications are maintained in confidence pursuant to 35 USC 122(a).
(B) No, a copy cannot be obtained because the patent application is still pending.
(C) Yes, a member of the public can go to the Technology Center and ask for the file for copying at a public photocopier.
(D) Yes, the member of the public can complete a “Request for Access to an Application Under 37 CFR 1.14(e)” and, without payment of a fee, order the file from the File Information Unit. Upon the Unit’s receipt of the application, the member of the public can use a public photocopier to make a copy.
(E) Yes, the member of the public can order a copy from the Office of Public Records, with a written request and payment of the appropriate fee.
ANSWER: (E) is the most correct answer. MPEP § 103, under the heading “Published U.S. Patent Applications” states that “If a patent application has been published pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 122(b), then a copy of the specification, drawings, and all papers relating to the file of that published application (whether abandoned or pending) may be provided to any person upon written request and payment of the fee.” (A), and (B) are not correct. 37 CFR § 1.14(c)(2). Once an application has been published, a copy is available to the public upon written request and payment of a fee. (C) and (D) are not correct. As stated in MPEP § 103, under the heading “Published U.S. Patent Applications,” if the published patent application is pending, the application file itself will not be available to the public for inspection.”