MPEP Section 1128, Availability of Published Applications
This document contains one section of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (the "M.P.E.P."), Eighth Edition, Fifth Revision (August 2006). This page was last updated in July 2007. You may return to the section index to find a particular section. Alternatively, you may search the MPEP use the search box that appears on the bottom of every page of BitLaw--be sure to restrict your search to the MPEP in the pop-up list.
1128 Availability of Published Applications [R-2]
37 CFR 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) for international applications) may be available in the following situations:
(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 application that has been published as a patent application publication 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 (h) 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(iv) Unpublished abandoned applications (including provisional applications) that are identified or relied upon. The file contents of an unpublished, abandoned application may be made available to the public if the application is identified in a U.S. patent, a statutory invention registration, a U.S. patent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, or an international patent application publication of an international application that was published in accordance with PCT Article 21(2). 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, or 365 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, or an international patent application that was published in accordance with PCT Article 21(2). 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)).
I. ELECTRONIC ACCESS
Patent application publications are available electronically on the USPTO web site (www.uspto.gov). Any member of the public may obtain status information concerning any published application via the Office's Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. See MPEP § 1730. Published applications that have been scanned into the Image File Wrapper (IFW) system may be available electronically via PAIR.
II. COPIES OF PUBLISHED APPLICATIONS
Any member of the public may submit a request under 37 CFR 1.14(a)(1)(ii) or (iii) and the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.19(b) to the Office of Public Records or electronically on the USPTO web site (www.uspto.gov) for:
(A) a copy of the complete file wrapper and contents of, or a copy of a specific paper in, any published application, provided that no redacted copy was timely submitted for publication; or
(B) an appropriately redacted copy of the file wrapper and contents of, or a copy of a specific paper in, any published application for which a redacted copy was timely submitted for publication.
III. PHYSICAL ACCESS TO PUBLISHED APPLICATIONS
Any member of the public cannot obtain physical access to any pending published application because permitting physical inspection of pending published applications would interfere with the Office's ability to act on the applications. Any member of the public may, however, physically inspect (subject to the same conditions that apply to inspection of patented files) the file of any abandoned published application, provided that no redacted copy was timely submitted for publication, through the File Information Unit (FIU). See MPEP § 1730.
IV. STATUS INFORMATION
Any member of the public may obtain status information concerning any published application via the Office's PAIR system or contact the FIU. See MPEP § 1730. Status information is defined to include identification of whether the application has been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b), as well as whether the application is pending, abandoned, or patented, and the application number. Status information may also be provided when the application is referred to by its application number in a U.S. patent application publication as well as a U.S. patent or a published international application. The public may obtain continuity data for applications that have been published as a U.S. patent application publication or as a U.S. patent. See also MPEP § 102.<>