MPEP 2154.02(b)
Prior Art Exception Under AIA

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2015, Last Revised in November 2015

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2154.02(b)    Prior Art Exception Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) (Inventor or Inventor-Originated Prior Public Disclosure Exception) [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2131-MPEP § 2138 for examination of applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]

AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) provides additional exceptions to the prior art provisions of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). These exceptions disqualify subject matter that was effectively filed by another after the subject matter had been publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor.

Specifically, AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) provides that a disclosure which would otherwise qualify as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) (a U.S. patent, U.S. patent application publication, or WIPO published application (“U.S. patent document”)) may be disqualified as prior art if the subject matter disclosed had been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. The previous public disclosure of the subject matter by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor must itself be a public disclosure (i.e., be either an inventor disclosure by the inventor or a joint inventor or be an inventor-originated disclosure by another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor). If a previous public disclosure by the inventor or which originated with the inventor is not within the grace period of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1), it would qualify as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), and could not be disqualified under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1). MPEP § 2155.02 discusses the use of affidavits or declarations to show that the subject matter disclosed had, before such disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, and MPEP § 2155.03 discusses the use of affidavits or declarations to show that another who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor.

Similar to the previous discussion of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B), the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) applies if the “subject matter disclosed [in the intervening disclosure] had, before such [intervening] disclosure was effectively filed under subsection (a)(2), been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor.” The exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) focuses on the “subject matter” that had been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor). There is no requirement under 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) that the mode of prior disclosure by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor) be the same as the mode of disclosure of the intervening U.S. patent document(e.g., patenting, publication, public use, sale activity). There is also no requirement that the prior disclosure by the inventor or a joint inventor be a verbatim or ipsissimis verbis disclosure of the intervening U.S. patent document. What is required for subject matter in the intervening U.S. patent document to be excepted under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) is that the subject matter must have been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor).

The exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) applies only to the subject matter in the intervening U.S. patent document being relied upon for a rejection under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) that was also publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor) before the date the subject matter relied upon was effectively filed. The subject matter of an intervening U.S. patent document that was not previously publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or by another who obtained the subject matter from the inventor or joint inventor) is available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). For example, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed elements A, B, and C, and a subsequent intervening U.S. patent document discloses elements A, B, C, and D, then only element D of the intervening U.S. patent document is available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2).

In addition, if subject matter of an intervening U.S. patent document is simply a more general description of the subject matter previously publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor), the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) applies to such subject matter of the intervening U.S. patent document. For example, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a species, and a subsequent intervening U.S. patent document discloses a genus (i.e., provides a more generic disclosure of the species), the disclosure of the genus in the intervening U.S. patent document is not available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Conversely, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a genus, and a subsequent intervening U.S. patent document discloses a species, the disclosure of the species in the subsequent intervening U.S. patent document would be available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2). Likewise, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a species, and a subsequent intervening U.S. patent document discloses an alternative species not also disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, the disclosure of the alternative species in the intervening U.S. patent document would be available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2).

Finally, AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) does not discuss “the claimed invention” with respect to either the subject matter disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, or the subject matter of the subsequent intervening U.S. patent document. Any inquiry with respect to the claimed invention is whether or not the subject matter in the prior art disclosure being relied upon anticipates or renders obvious the claimed invention. A determination of whether the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2)(B) is applicable to subject matter in an intervening U.S. patent document does not involve a comparison of the subject matter of the claimed invention to either the subject matter disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, or to the subject matter of the subsequent intervening U.S. patent document.