MPEP 211.03
Time Period for Making a Claim for Benefit Under 37 CFR 1.78

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

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211.03    Time Period for Making a Claim for Benefit Under 37 CFR 1.78 [R-08.2017]

37 CFR 1.78 specifies: (A) a time period within which a benefit claim to a prior nonprovisional application, international application, international design application, or provisional application must be stated or it is considered waived; and (B) provisions for the acceptance of the unintentionally delayed submission of a claim to the benefit of a prior nonprovisional application, international application, international design application, or provisional application.

If the application is a utility or plant application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the benefit claim of the prior application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) must be made during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the later-filed application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior-filed application. If the application is a nonprovisional application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, the benefit claim must be made within the later of: (1) four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f); (2) four months from the date of the initial submission under 35 U.S.C. 371 to enter the national stage; or (3) sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. This time period is not extendable and a failure to submit the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and/or 120, where applicable, within this time period is considered a waiver of any benefit of such prior application(s) under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c), and 386(c) unless a petition to accept an unintentionally delayed benefit claim is granted. See MPEP § 211.04.

If the application is a design application, the claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) for the benefit of a prior-filed application must be submitted during the pendency of the later-filed application.

If an applicant includes a claim to the benefit of a prior application elsewhere in the application but not in the manner specified in 37 CFR 1.78 (e.g., if the benefit claim is not present in the proper place but is included in an oath or declaration, or the application transmittal letter, or in the first sentence(s) of the specification for an application filed on or after September 16, 2012) within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78, the Office will not require a petition and the petition fee under 37 CFR 1.17(m) to correct the benefit claim if the information concerning the benefit claim contained elsewhere in the application was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on the first filing receipt. This is because the application will have been scheduled for publication on the basis of such information concerning the benefit claim. Applicant must still submit the benefit claim in the manner specified in 37 CFR 1.78 (i.e., in an ADS in compliance with 37 CFR 1.76 (or for applications filed prior to September 16, 2012 by an amendment to the first sentence(s) of the specification or in an ADS in compliance with pre-AIA 37 CFR 1.76 ) to have a proper claim under 35 U.S.C. 120 or 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 to the benefit of a prior application. If, however, an applicant includes a benefit claim elsewhere in the application and the claim is not recognized by the Office as shown by its absence on the first filing receipt, the Office will require a petition and the petition fee under 37 CFR 1.17(m) to correct the benefit claim if the correction is sought after expiration of the time period set in 37 CFR 1.78. This is because the application will not have been scheduled for publication on the basis of the information concerning the benefit claim contained elsewhere in the application.

A petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the petition fee would not be required for correcting a timely submitted benefit claim for the following situations:

  • (A) Changing the relationship of the applications (e.g., changing from "continuation" or "divisional" to "continuation-in-part" or from "continuation-in-part" to "continuation" or "divisional");
  • (B) Changing the filing date of a prior-filed nonprovisional or provisional application; and
  • (C) Changing a benefit claim of a prior-filed provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 120 (e.g., "This application is a continuation of prior-filed provisional application No. ---") to a benefit claim of the same provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) (e.g., "This application claims the benefit of prior-filed provisional application No. ---") during the pendency of the later-filed application. Note, however: If the later-filed application has issued as a patent, the correction cannot be made by a certificate of correction and would not be effective in a reissue application because the term of a patent is measured from the prior application’s filing date and removing the benefit claim under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) would have the effect of lengthening the term of the patent.

If a benefit claim is filed after the required time period and without a petition as required by 37 CFR 1.78, the applicant should be informed that the benefit claim was not entered and that a petition needs to be filed using form paragraph 2.39.

¶ 2.39    35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, or 365(c), or 386(c) Benefit Claim is Untimely

The benefit claim filed on [1] was not entered because the required reference was not timely filed within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78. If the application is an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), the reference to the prior application must be submitted during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. If the application is a nonprovisional application entering the national stage from an international application under 35 U.S.C. 371, the reference to the prior application must be made during the pendency of the application and within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f), four months from the date of the initial submission under 35 U.S.C. 371 to enter the national stage, or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior application. If the application was filed before September 16, 2012, the reference must be included in the first sentence(s) of the specification following the title or in an application data sheet; if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012, the specific reference must be included in an application data sheet. For benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c), the reference must include the relationship (i.e., continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part) of the applications. See 37 CFR 1.78(a) for benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78(d) for benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c).

If applicant desires the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e), 120, 121, 365(c) or 386(c) based upon a previously filed application, applicant must file a petition for an unintentionally delayed benefit claim under 37 CFR 1.78(c) for benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) or under 37 CFR 1.78(e) for benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c). The petition must be accompanied by: (1) the reference required by 35 U.S.C. 120 or 119(e) and 37 CFR 1.78 to the prior application (unless previously submitted); (2) a petition fee under 37 CFR 1.17(m); and (3) a statement that the entire delay between the date the benefit claim was due under 37 CFR 1.78 and the date the claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional. The petition should be addressed to: Mail Stop Petition, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450.

Examiner Note:

1. Use this form paragraph only for original applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) on or after November 29, 2000 and for national stage applications under 35 U.S.C. 371. DO NOT use for design applications.

2. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the amendment or paper containing the benefit claim.

3. Do not use this form paragraph if the reference to the prior application was previously submitted within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.78, but not in the location of the application as required by 37 CFR 1.78 (e.g., if the reference was submitted in an oath or declaration or the application transmittal letter), and the information concerning the benefit claim was recognized by the Office as shown by its inclusion on the first filing receipt. In this situation, the petition under 37 CFR 1.78 and the petition fee under 37 CFR 1.17(m) are not required. Applicant is still required to submit the reference in compliance with 37 CFR 1.78 by filing an amendment to the first sentence(s) of the specification (only if the application was filed before September 16, 2012) or an ADS. The reference is required in the ADS if the application was filed on or after September 16, 2012. See MPEP § 210, subsection I and MPEP § 211.03.