MPEP 1878.01(a)
Prior Art for Purposes of the Written Opinion and the International Preliminary Examination Report

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

Previous: §1878.01 | Next: §1878.01(a)(1)

1878.01(a)    Prior Art for Purposes of the Written Opinion and the International Preliminary Examination Report [R-07.2015]

PCT Article 33.

The International Preliminary Examination

*****

  • (6) The international preliminary examination shall take into consideration all the documents cited in the international search report. It may take into consideration any additional documents considered to be relevant in the particular case.

PCT Rule 64

Prior Art for International Preliminary Examination

64.1 Prior Art

  • (a) For the purposes of Article 33(2) and (3), everything made available to the public anywhere in the world by means of written disclosure (including drawings and other illustrations) shall be considered prior art provided that such making available occurred prior to the relevant date.
  • (b) For the purposes of paragraph (a), the relevant date shall be:
    • (i) subject to items (ii) and (iii), the international filing date of the international application under international preliminary examination;
    • (ii) where the international application under international preliminary examination claims the priority of an earlier application and has an international filing date which is within the priority period, the filing date of such earlier application, unless the International Preliminary Examining Authority considers that the priority claim is not valid;
    • (iii) where the international application under international preliminary examination claims the priority of an earlier application and has an international filing date which is later than the date on which the priority period expired but within the period of two months from that date, the filing date of such earlier application, unless the International Preliminary Examining Authority considers that the priority claim is not valid for reasons other than the fact that the international application has an international filing date which is later than the date on which the priority period expired.

64.2 Non-Written Disclosures

In cases where the making available to the public occurred by means of an oral disclosure, use, exhibition or other non-written means ("non-written disclosure") before the relevant date as defined in Rule 64.1(b) and the date of such non-written disclosure is indicated in a written disclosure which has been made available to the public on a date which is the same as, or later than, the relevant date, the non-written disclosure shall not be considered part of the prior art for the purposes of Article 33(2) and (3). Nevertheless, the international preliminary examination report shall call attention to such non-written disclosure in the manner provided for in Rule 70.9.

64.3 Certain Published Documents

In cases where any application or any patent which would constitute prior art for the purposes of Article 33(2) and (3) had it been published prior to the relevant date referred to in Rule 64.1 was published on a date which is the same as, or later than, the relevant date but was filed earlier than the relevant date or claimed the priority of an earlier application which had been filed prior to the relevant date, such published application or patent shall not be considered part of the prior art for the purposes of Article 33(2) and (3). Nevertheless, the international preliminary examination report shall call attention to such application or patent in the manner provided for in Rule 70.10.

The above provisions apply mutatis mutandis to the written opinion of the International Searching Authority. See PCT Rule 43bis.1(b).

The relevant date for the purpose of considering prior art is defined in PCT Rule 64.1(b) as:

  • (A) the international filing date (subject to (B) and (C));
  • (B) where the international application claims the priority of an earlier application and has an international filing date which is within the priority period, the filing date of such earlier application, unless the Authority considers that the priority claim is not valid;
  • (C) where the international application claims the priority of an earlier application and has an international filing date which is later than the date on which the priority period expired but within the period of two months from that date, the filing date of such earlier application, unless the Authority considers that the priority claim is not valid for reasons other than the fact that the international application has an international filing date which is later than the date on which the priority period expired.

When a potentially relevant document has been published between a claimed priority date of the application and its international filing date, the examiner is required to consider whether the claimed priority date is valid for the purposes of determining the "relevant date" of the claims in the international application. For international applications filed on or after April 1, 2007, a priority date should not be considered invalid merely because the international application was not filed prior to the date of expiration of the priority period, provided that the international application is filed within the period of two months from the date of expiration of the priority period. Note that if there is time left for the applicant to perfect, correct or add a priority claim but there is insufficient time for the examiner to make a proper determination as to whether the priority claim is valid, due to the need to issue a timely written opinion by the International Searching Authority, the "relevant date" for the purposes of the written opinion will be based on the claimed priority date. See Chapter 11 of the International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines, which may be obtained from WIPO’s website (www.wipo.int/pct/en/texts/gdlines.html ). In cases where any application or any patent which would constitute prior art for the purpose of international preliminary examination as to novelty and inventive step (nonobviousness) was published on or after the relevant date of the international application under consideration but was filed earlier than the relevant date or claimed the priority of an earlier application which was filed prior to the relevant date, the published application or patent is not to be considered part of the prior art for the purpose of international preliminary examination as to novelty and inventive step. Nevertheless, these documents are to be listed on Form PCT/ISA/237, PCT/IPEA/408, or PCT/IPEA/409, as appropriate under the heading "CERTAIN PUBLISHED DOCUMENTS".

In determining whether there is inventive step, account should be taken of what the applicant acknowledges in his/her description as known. Such acknowledged prior art should be regarded as correct and used during preliminary examination where appropriate.

For oral or nonwritten disclosure, see PCT Rules 64.2 and 70.9.