MPEP 1449.02
Interference in Reissue

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in Januay 2018

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1449.02    Interference in Reissue [R-08.2017]

[Editor Note: This section is only applicable to reissue applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g). See MPEP § 2159 et seq.]

37 C.F.R. 41.8 Mandatory notices.

  • (a) In an appeal brief (§§ 41.37, 41.67, or 41.68 ) or at the initiation of a contested case (§ 41.101 ), and within 20 days of any change during the proceeding, a party must identify:
    • (1) Its real party-in-interest, and
    • (2) Each judicial or administrative proceeding that could affect, or be affected by, the Board proceeding.
  • (b) For contested cases, a party seeking judicial review of a Board proceeding must file a notice with the Board of the judicial review within 20 days of the filing of the complaint or the notice of appeal. The notice to the Board must include a copy of the complaint or notice of appeal. See also §§ 1.301 to 1.304 of this title.

37 C.F.R. 41.202 Suggesting an interference.

  • (a) Applicant. An applicant, including a reissue applicant, may suggest an interference with another application or a patent. The suggestion must:
    • (1) Provide sufficient information to identify the application or patent with which the applicant seeks an interference,
    • (2) Identify all claims the applicant believes interfere, propose one or more counts, and show how the claims correspond to one or more counts,
    • (3) For each count, provide a claim chart comparing at least one claim of each party corresponding to the count and show why the claims interfere within the meaning of § 41.203(a),
    • (4) Explain in detail why the applicant will prevail on priority,
    • (5) If a claim has been added or amended to provoke an interference, provide a claim chart showing the written description for each claim in the applicant’s specification, and
    • (6) For each constructive reduction to practice for which the applicant wishes to be accorded benefit, provide a chart showing where the disclosure provides a constructive reduction to practice within the scope of the interfering subject matter.

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  • (c) Examiner. An examiner may require an applicant to add a claim to provoke an interference. Failure to satisfy the requirement within a period (not less than one month) the examiner sets will operate as a concession of priority for the subject matter of the claim. If the interference would be with a patent, the applicant must also comply with paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(6) of this section. The claim the examiner proposes to have added must, apart from the question of priority under 35 U.S.C. 102(g):
    • (1) Be patentable to the applicant, and
    • (2) Be drawn to patentable subject matter claimed by another applicant or patentee.

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In appropriate circumstances, a reissue application subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g) (first to invent) may be placed into interference with a patent or pending application. A patentee may thus seek to provoke an interference with a patent or pending application by filing a reissue application, if the reissue application includes an appropriate reissue error as required by 35 U.S.C. 251. Reissue error must be based upon applicant error; a reissue cannot be based solely on the error of the Office for failing to declare an interference or to suggest copying claims for the purpose of establishing an interference. See In re Keil, 808 F.2d 830, 1 USPQ2d 1427 (Fed. Cir. 1987); In re Dien, 680 F.2d 151, 214 USPQ 10 (CCPA 1982); In re Bostwick, 102 F.2d 886, 888, 41 USPQ 279, 281 (CCPA 1939); and In re Guastavino, 83 F.2d 913, 916, 29 USPQ 532, 535 (CCPA 1936). See also Slip Track Systems, Inc. v. Metal Lite, Inc., 159 F.3d 1337, 48 USPQ2d 1055 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (Two patents issued claiming the same patentable subject matter, and the patentee with the earlier filing date requested reexamination of the patent with the later filing date (Slip Track’s patent). A stay of litigation in a priority of invention suit under 35 U.S.C. 291, pending the outcome of the reexamination, was reversed. The suit under 35 U.S.C. 291 was the only option available to Slip Track to determine priority of invention. Slip Track could not file a reissue application solely to provoke an interference proceeding before the Office because it did not assert that there was any error as required by 35 U.S.C. 251 in the patent.). A reissue application can be employed to provoke an interference if the reissue application:

  • (A) adds copied claims which are not present in the original patent;
  • (B) amends claims to correspond to those of the patent or application with which an interference is sought; or
  • (C) contains at least one error (not directed to provoking an interference) appropriate for the reissue.

In the first two situations, the reissue oath/declaration must assert that applicant erred in failing to include claims of the proper scope to provoke an interference in the original patent application, and must include an identification of the claims added to provoke the interference. Furthermore, the subject matter of the copied or amended claims in the reissue application must be supported by the disclosure of the original patent under 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph. See In re Molins, 368 F.2d 258, 261, 151 USPQ 570, 572 (CCPA 1966) and In re Spencer, 273 F.2d 181, 124 USPQ 175 (CCPA 1959).

A reissue applicant cannot present added or amended claims to provoke an interference, if the claims were deliberately omitted from the patent in a reissue application filed before September 16, 2012. If there is evidence that the claims were not inadvertently omitted from the original patent, e.g., the subject matter was described in the original patent as being undesirable, the reissue application may lack proper basis for the reissue. See In re Bostwick, 102 F.2d at 889, 41 USPQ at 282 (CCPA 1939) (reissue lacked a proper basis because the original patent pointed out the disadvantages of the embodiment that provided support for the copied claims).

The issue date of the patent, or the publication date of the application publication (whichever is applicable under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 135(b) ), with which an interference is sought must be less than 1 year before the presentation of the copied or amended claims in the reissue application. See pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 135(b) and MPEP § 715.05 and MPEP Chapter 2300. If the reissue application includes broadened claims, the reissue application must be filed within two years from the issue date of the original patent. See 35 U.S.C. 251 and MPEP § 1412.03.

In a reissue application subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103, an examiner may, pursuant to 37 CFR 41.202(c), require a reissue applicant to add a claim to provoke an interference, unless the reissue applicant cannot present the added claim to provoke an interference based upon the provisions of the reissue statute and rules, e.g., if the claim was deliberately omitted from the patent and the reissue application was filed before September 16, 2012, or if the claim enlarges the scope of the claims of the original patent and was not "applied for within two years from the grant of the original patent." Failure to satisfy the requirement within a time period (not less than one month) that the examiner sets will operate as a concession of priority for the subject matter of the claim. If the interference would be with a patent, the reissue applicant must also comply with 37 CFR 41.202(a)(2) through (a)(6). The claim the examiner proposes to have added must, apart from the question of priority under 35 U.S.C. 102(g), be patentable to the reissue applicant, and be drawn to patentable subject matter claimed by another applicant or patentee.

I.    REISSUE APPLICATION FILED WHILE PATENT IS IN INTERFERENCE

If a reissue application is filed while the original patent is in an interference proceeding, the reissue applicant must promptly notify the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the filing of the reissue application within 20 days from the filing date. See 37 CFR 41.8 and MPEP Chapter 2300.