Recent test takers report that question #24 from the October 2003 (PM) test is in the patent bar exam database.
This question concept is reported to be heavily tested.
ANSWER: The filing date of the nonprovisional application, (B), is the correct answer. See MPEP § 201.04(b), which states “[t]he [Uruguay Agreement Round Act] provides a mechanism to enable domestic applicants to quickly and inexpensively file provisional applications. Under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) applicants are entitled to claim the benefit of priority in a given application in the United States. The domestic priority period will not count in the measurement of the 20-year patent term. See 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3). Thus, domestic applicants are placed on the same footing with foreign applicants with respect to the patent term.” A provisional application is filed under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) and according to 35 U.S.C. § 154(a)(3), such a filing date is not taken into account in determining patent term. Therefore, (A) is incorrect. The fact pattern states that benefit was properly claimed in the international application to both the provisional application and the national application and that the national stage application filed under 35 U.S.C. § 371 claimed benefit to the filing date of the nonprovisional application under 35 U.S.C. § 120. According to 35 U.S.C. § 154(a)(2), where an application contains a reference to an earlier filed application or applications under 35 U.S.C. § 120, 121, or 365(c), the patent term ends 20 years from the date on which the earliest such application was filed; in this fact pattern that date would be (B), the filing date of the nonprovisional application. The filing date of the international application, (C), is not correct in view of 35 U.S.C. § 154(a)(2) since the international application claimed the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 120 to the filing date of the nonprovisional application. The date of commencement of the national stage in the United States, (D), is not correct, since the date of commencement of the national stage in the U.S. is not relevant in the determination of the patent term of a patent issuing form the national stage of the international application. Furthermore, as noted in (B) above, since the international application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §120 to the nonprovisional application, the patent term of the patent issuing from the national stage is measured from the filing date of the nonprovisional application. Finally, the issue date, (E), is not correct, because in 1994, 35 U.S.C. § 154 was amended to provide that for applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, the term of a patent begins on the date the patent issues and ends on the date that is twenty years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, of the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application or applications under 35 U.S.C. § 120, 121, or 365(c), twenty years from the filing date of the earliest of such application(s).