35 U.S.C. 103 (pre‑AIA): Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter

Taken from the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

Current Pre-AIA AIA Redline

Previous: §103 | Next: §104

35 U.S.C. 103 (pre‑AIA) Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter.

[Editor Note: Not applicable to any patent application subject to the first inventor to file provisions of the AIA (see 35 U.S.C. 100 (note) ). See 35 U.S.C. 103 for the law otherwise applicable.]

  • (a) A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 , if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.
  • (b)
    • (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a), and upon timely election by the applicant for patent to proceed under this subsection, a biotechnological process using or resulting in a composition of matter that is novel under section 102 and nonobvious under subsection (a) of this section shall be considered nonobvious if-
      • (A) claims to the process and the composition of matter are contained in either the same application for patent or in separate applications having the same effective filing date; and
      • (B) the composition of matter, and the process at the time it was invented, were owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) A patent issued on a process under paragraph (1)-
      • (A) shall also contain the claims to the composition of matter used in or made by that process, or
      • (B) shall, if such composition of matter is claimed in another patent, be set to expire on the same date as such other patent, notwithstanding section 154.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (1), the term "biotechnological process" means-
      • (A) a process of genetically altering or otherwise inducing a single- or multi-celled organism to-
        • (i) express an exogenous nucleotide sequence,
        • (ii) inhibit, eliminate, augment, or alter expression of an endogenous nucleotide sequence, or
        • (iii) express a specific physiological characteristic not naturally associated with said organism;
      • (B) cell fusion procedures yielding a cell line that expresses a specific protein, such as a monoclonal antibody; and
      • (C) a method of using a product produced by a process defined by subparagraph (A) or (B), or a combination of subparagraphs (A) and (B).
  • (c)
    • (1) Subject matter developed by another person, which qualifies as prior art only under one or more of subsections (e), (f), and (g) ofsection 102, shall not preclude patentability under this section where the subject matter and the claimed invention were, at the time the claimed invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.
    • (2) For purposes of this subsection, subject matter developed by another person and a claimed invention shall be deemed to have been owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person if —
      • (A) the claimed invention was made by or on behalf of parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made;
      • (B) the claimed invention was made as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the joint research agreement; and
      • (C) the application for patent for the claimed invention discloses or is amended to disclose the names of the parties to the joint research agreement.
    • (3) For purposes of paragraph (2), the term "joint research agreement" means a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.

(Amended Nov. 8, 1984, Public Law 98-622, sec. 103, 98 Stat. 3384; Nov. 1, 1995, Public Law 104-41, sec.1, 109 Stat. 3511; subsection (c) amended Nov. 29, 1999, Public Law 106-113, sec. 1000(a)(9), 113 Stat. 1501A-591 (S. 1948 sec. 4807); subsection (c) amended Dec. 10, 2004, Public Law 108-453, sec. 2, 118 Stat. 3596; amended Sept. 16, 2011, Public Law 112-29, sec. 20(j) (effective Sept. 16, 2012), 125 Stat. 284.)

(Public Law 112-29, sec. 14, 125 Stat. 284 (Sept. 16, 2011) provided that tax strategies are deemed to be within the prior art (see AIA § 14 ).)