MPEP 213
Right of Priority of Foreign Application

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

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213    Right of Priority of Foreign Application [R-08.2017]

Under certain conditions and on fulfilling certain requirements, an application for patent filed in the United States may be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of a prior application filed in a foreign country. The conditions are specified in 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) and (f), 172, 365(a) and (b), and 386(a) and (b), and 37 CFR 1.55.

35 U.S.C. 119  Benefit of earlier filing date; right of priority.

  • (a) An application for patent for an invention filed in this country by any person who has, or whose legal representatives or assigns have, previously regularly filed an application for a patent for the same invention in a foreign country which affords similar privileges in the case of applications filed in the United States or to citizens of the United States, or in a WTO member country, shall have the same effect as the same application would have if filed in this country on the date on which the application for patent for the same invention was first filed in such foreign country, if the application in this country is filed within 12 months from the earliest date on which such foreign application was filed. The Director may prescribe regulations, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), pursuant to which the 12-month period set forth in this subsection may be extended by an additional 2 months if the delay in filing the application in this country within the 12-month period was unintentional.
  • (b)
    • (1) No application for patent shall be entitled to this right of priority unless a claim is filed in the Patent and Trademark Office, identifying the foreign application by specifying the application number on that foreign application, the intellectual property authority or country in or for which the application was filed, and the date of filing the application, at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director.
    • (2) The Director may consider the failure of the applicant to file a timely claim for priority as a waiver of any such claim. The Director may establish procedures, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed claim under this section.
    • (3) The Director may require a certified copy of the original foreign application, specification, and drawings upon which it is based, a translation if not in the English language, and such other information as the Director considers necessary. Any such certification shall be made by the foreign intellectual property authority in which the foreign application was filed and show the date of the application and of the filing of the specification and other papers.
  • (c) In like manner and subject to the same conditions and requirements, the right provided in this section may be based upon a subsequent regularly filed application in the same foreign country instead of the first filed foreign application, provided that any foreign application filed prior to such subsequent application has been withdrawn, abandoned, or otherwise disposed of, without having been laid open to public inspection and without leaving any rights outstanding, and has not served, nor thereafter shall serve, as a basis for claiming a right of priority.
  • (d) Applications for inventors’ certificates filed in a foreign country in which applicants have a right to apply, at their discretion, either for a patent or for an inventor’s certificate shall be treated in this country in the same manner and have the same effect for purpose of the right of priority under this section as applications for patents, subject to the same conditions and requirements of this section as apply to applications for patents, provided such applicants are entitled to the benefits of the Stockholm Revision of the Paris Convention at the time of such filing.

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  • (f) Applications for plant breeder’s rights filed in a WTO member country (or in a foreign UPOV Contracting Party) shall have the same effect for the purpose of the right of priority under subsections (a) through (c) of this section as applications for patents, subject to the same conditions and requirements of this section as apply to applications for patents.

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37 C.F.R. 1.55  Claim for foreign priority.

  • (a) In general. An applicant in a nonprovisional application may claim priority to one or more prior foreign applications under the conditions specified in 35 U.S.C. 119(a) through (d) and (f), 172, 365(a) and (b), and 386(a) and (b) and this section.
  • (b) Time for filing subsequent application. The nonprovisional application must be:
    • (1) Filed not later than twelve months (six months in the case of a design application) after the date on which the foreign application was filed, subject to paragraph (c) of this section (a subsequent application); or
    • (2) Entitled to claim the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) of a subsequent application that was filed within the period set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
  • (c) Delayed filing of subsequent application. If the subsequent application has a filing date which is after the expiration of the period set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, but within two months from the expiration of the period set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the right of priority in the subsequent application may be restored under PCT Rule 26bis.3 for an international application, or upon petition pursuant to this paragraph, if the delay in filing the subsequent application within the period set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section was unintentional. A petition to restore the right of priority under this paragraph filed on or after May 13, 2015, must be filed in the subsequent application, or in the earliest nonprovisional application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) to the subsequent application, if such subsequent application is not a nonprovisional application. Any petition to restore the right of priority under this paragraph must include:
    • (1) The priority claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) through (d) or (f), 365(a) or (b), or 386(a) or (b) in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(6) ), identifying the foreign application to which priority is claimed, by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing, unless previously submitted;
    • (2) The petition fee as set forth in § 1.17(m); and
    • (3) A statement that the delay in filing the subsequent application within the period set forth in paragraph (b)(1) of this section was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.
  • (d) Time for filing priority claim—
    • (1) Application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). The claim for priority must be filed within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application in an original application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. The claim for priority must be presented in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(6) ) and must identify the foreign application to which priority is claimed by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing. The time periods in this paragraph do not apply if the later-filed application is:
      • (i) An application for a design patent; or
      • (ii) An application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) before November 29, 2000.
    • (2) Application under 35 U.S.C. 371. The claim for priority must be made within the time limit set forth in the PCT and the Regulations under the PCT in an international application entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section.
  • (e) Delayed priority claim. Unless such claim is accepted in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph, any claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) through (d) or (f), 365(a) or (b), or 386(a) or 386(b) not presented in the manner required by paragraph (d) or (m) of this section during pendency and within the time period provided by paragraph (d) of this section (if applicable) is considered to have been waived. If a claim for priority is considered to have been waived under this section, the claim may be accepted if the priority claim was unintentionally delayed. A petition to accept a delayed claim for priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) through (d) or (f), 365(a) or (b), or 386(a) or 386(b) must be accompanied by:
    • (1) The priority claim under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) through (d) or (f), 365(a) or 386(b), or 386(a) or (b) in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(6) ), identifying the foreign application to which priority is claimed, by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing, unless previously submitted;
    • (2) A certified copy of the foreign application, unless previously submitted or an exception in paragraph (h), (i), or (j) of this section applies;
    • (3) The petition fee as set forth in § 1.17(m); and
    • (4) A statement that the entire delay between the date the priority claim was due under this section and the date the priority claim was filed was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.
  • (f) Time for filing certified copy of foreign application—
    • (1) Application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). A certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the application, or sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application, in an original application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) filed on or after March 16, 2013, except as provided in paragraphs (h), (i), and (j) of this section. The time period in this paragraph does not apply in a design application.
    • (2) Application under 35 U.S.C. 371. A certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the time limit set forth in the PCT and the Regulations under the PCT in an international application entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371. If a certified copy of the foreign application is not filed during the international stage in an international application in which the national stage commenced on or after December 18, 2013, a certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the later of four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) (§ 1.491(a) ), 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 foreign application, except as provided in paragraphs (h), (i), and (j) of this section.
    • (3) If a certified copy of the foreign application is not filed within the time period specified [in] paragraph (f)(1) of this section in an application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) or within the period specified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section in an international application entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371, and an exception in paragraph (h), (i), or (j) of this section is not applicable, the certified copy of the foreign application must be accompanied by a petition including a showing of good and sufficient cause for the delay and the petition fee set forth in § 1.17(g).
  • (g) Requirement for filing priority claim, certified copy of foreign application, and translation in any application.
    • (1) The claim for priority and the certified copy of the foreign application specified in 35 U.S.C. 119(b) or PCT Rule 17 must, in any event, be filed within the pendency of the application, unless filed with a petition under paragraph (e) or (f) of this section, or with a petition accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.17(g) which includes a showing of good and sufficient cause for the delay in filing the certified copy of the foreign application in a design application. If the claim for priority or the certified copy of the foreign application is filed after the date the issue fee is paid, the patent will not include the priority claim unless corrected by a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and § 1.323.
    • (2) The Office may require that the claim for priority and the certified copy of the foreign application be filed earlier than otherwise provided in this section:
      • (i) When the application is involved in an interference (see § 41.202 of this chapter) or derivation (see part 42 of this chapter) proceeding;
      • (ii) When necessary to overcome the date of a reference relied upon by the examiner; or
      • (iii) When deemed necessary by the examiner.
    • (3) An English language translation of a non-English language foreign application is not required except:
      • (i) When the application is involved in an interference (see § 41.202 of this chapter) or derivation (see part 42 of this chapter) proceeding;
      • (ii) When necessary to overcome the date of a reference relied upon by the examiner; or
      • (iii) When specifically required by the examiner.
    • (4) If an English language translation of a non-English language foreign application is required, it must be filed together with a statement that the translation of the certified copy is accurate.
  • (h) Certified copy in another U.S. patent or application. The requirement in paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section for a certified copy of the foreign application will be considered satisfied in a reissue application if the patent for which reissue is sought satisfies the requirement of this section for a certified copy of the foreign application and such patent is identified as containing a certified copy of the foreign application. The requirement in paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section for a certified copy of the foreign application will also be considered satisfied in an application if a prior-filed nonprovisional application for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) contains a certified copy of the foreign application and such prior-filed nonprovisional application is identified as containing a certified copy of the foreign application.
  • (i) Foreign intellectual property office participating in a priority document exchange agreement. The requirement in paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section for a certified copy of the foreign application to be filed within the time limit set forth therein will be considered satisfied if:
    • (1) The foreign application was filed in a foreign intellectual property office participating with the Office in a bilateral or multilateral priority document exchange agreement (participating foreign intellectual property office), or a copy of the foreign application was filed in an application subsequently filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office that permits the Office to obtain such a copy;
    • (2) The claim for priority is presented in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(6) ), identifying the foreign application for which priority is claimed, by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing, and the applicant provides the information necessary for the participating foreign intellectual property office to provide the Office with access to the foreign application;
    • (3) The copy of the foreign application is received by the Office from the participating foreign intellectual property office, or a certified copy of the foreign application is filed, within the period specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section; and
    • (4) The applicant files in a separate document a request that the Office obtain a copy of the foreign application from a participating intellectual property office that permits the Office to obtain such a copy where, although the foreign application was not filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office, a copy of the foreign application was filed in an application subsequently filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office that permits the Office to obtain such a copy. The request must identify the participating intellectual property office and the subsequent application by the application number, day, month, and year of its filing in which a copy of the foreign application was filed. The request must be filed within the later of sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application, four months from the actual filing date of an application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) (§ 1.491(a) ), or four months from the date of the initial submission under 35 U.S.C. 371 to enter the national stage, or the request must be accompanied by a petition under paragraph (e) or (f) of this section.
  • (j) Interim copy. The requirement in paragraph (f) of this section for a certified copy of the foreign application to be filed within the time limit set forth therein will be considered satisfied if:
    • (1) A copy of the original foreign application clearly labeled as "Interim Copy," including the specification, and any drawings or claims upon which it is based, is filed in the Office together with a separate cover sheet identifying the foreign application by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing, and stating that the copy filed in the Office is a true copy of the original application as filed in the foreign country (or intellectual property authority);
    • (2) The copy of the foreign application and separate cover sheet are filed within the later of sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application, four months from the actual filing date of an application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), four months from the date on which the national stage commenced under 35 U.S.C. 371(b) or (f) (§ 1.491(a) ), four months from the date of the initial submission under 35 U.S.C. 371 to enter the national stage, or with a petition under paragraph (e) or (f) of this section; and
    • (3) A certified copy of the foreign application is filed within the period specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section.
  • (k) Requirements for certain applications filed on or after March 16, 2013.If a nonprovisional application filed on or after March 16, 2013, other than a nonprovisional international design application, claims priority to a foreign application filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date as defined in § 1.109 that is on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within the later of four months from the actual filing date of the nonprovisional application, four months from the date of entry into the national stage as set forth in § 1.491 in an international application, sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application, or the date that a first claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, is presented in the nonprovisional application. An applicant is not required to provide such a statement if the applicant reasonably believes on the basis of information already known to the individuals designated in § 1.56(c) that the nonprovisional application does not, and did not at any time, contain a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013.
  • (l) Inventor's certificates. An applicant in a nonprovisional application may under certain circumstances claim priority on the basis of one or more applications for an inventor's certificate in a country granting both inventor's certificates and patents. To claim the right of priority on the basis of an application for an inventor's certificate in such a country under 35 U.S.C. 119(d), the applicant, when submitting a claim for such right as specified in this section, must include an affidavit or declaration. The affidavit or declaration must include a specific statement that, upon an investigation, he or she is satisfied that to the best of his or her knowledge, the applicant, when filing the application for the inventor’s certificate, had the option to file an application for either a patent or an inventor’s certificate as to the subject matter of the identified claim or claims forming the basis for the claim of priority.
  • (m) Time for filing priority claim and certified copy of foreign application in an international design application designating the United States. In an international design application designating the United States, the claim for priority may be made in accordance with the Hague Agreement and the Hague Agreement Regulations. In a nonprovisional international design application, the priority claim, unless made in accordance with the Hague Agreement and the Hague Agreement Regulations, must be presented in an application data sheet (§ 1.76(b)(6) ), identifying the foreign application for which priority is claimed, by specifying the application number, country (or intellectual property authority), day, month, and year of its filing. In a nonprovisional international design application, the priority claim and certified copy must be furnished in accordance with the time period and other conditions set forth in paragraph (g) of this section.
  • (n) Applications filed before September 16, 2012. Notwithstanding the requirement in paragraphs (d)(1), (e)(1), and (i)(2) of this section that any priority claim be presented in an application data sheet (§ 1.76 ), this requirement in paragraphs (d)(1), (e)(1), and (i)(2) of this section will be satisfied by the presentation of such priority claim in the oath or declaration under § 1.63 in a nonprovisional application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) before September 16, 2012, or resulting from an international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 before September 16, 2012. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to any priority claim submitted for a petition under paragraph (c) of this section to restore the right of priority to a foreign application.
  • (o) Priority under 35 U.S.C. 386(a) or (b). The right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 386(a) or (b) with respect to an international design application is applicable only to nonprovisional applications, international applications, and international design applications filed on or after May 13, 2015, and patents issuing thereon.
  • (p) Time periods in this section. The time periods set forth in this section are not extendable, but are subject to 35 U.S.C. 21(b) (and § 1.7(a) ), PCT Rule 80.5, and Hague Agreement Rule 4(4).

Implementation of Public Law 112-211, 126 Stat. 1527 (titles I and title II of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act (PLTIA)), necessitated changes to the procedural requirements relating to claims for priority to an earlier-filed foreign application and to the submission of a certified copy of the priority document. The conditions for claiming priority to an earlier-filed foreign application are summarized below:

  • (A) The foreign application must be one filed in "a foreign country which affords similar privileges in the case of applications filed in the United States or to citizens of the United States or in a WTO member country." See MPEP § 213.01.
  • (B) The foreign application must have been filed by the same applicant as the applicant in the United States, or by applicant's legal representatives or assigns. Consistent with longstanding Office policy, this is interpreted to mean that the U.S. and foreign applications must name the same inventor or have at least one joint inventor in common. See MPEP § 213.02.
  • (C) The application, or its earliest parent United States application under 35 U.S.C. 120, must have been filed in a "recognized" country (see MPEP § 213.01) within 12 months from the date of the earliest foreign filing unless the right of priority has been restored (see MPEP § 213.03). However, the period of 12 months specified in this section is 6 months in the case of designs pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 172. See MPEP §§ 1504.10 and 2920.05(d).
  • (D) The foreign application must be for the same invention as the application in the United States.
  • (E) For an original application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) (other than a design application), the claim for priority must be presented 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 foreign application. This time period is not extendable. See MPEP § 214.01.
  • (F) For applications entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 from an international application, the claim for priority must be made and a certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the time limit set forth in the PCT Articles and Regulations.
  • (G) For a nonprovisional international design application, the priority claim, unless made in accordance with the Hague Agreement and the Hague Agreement Regulations, must be presented in an application data sheet during the pendency of the application. See 37 CFR 1.55(m). In addition, the right of priority under 35 U.S.C. 386(a) or (b) with respect to an international design application can only be claimed in a nonprovisional, international, or international design application filed on or after May 13, 2015. See 37 CFR 1.55(o).
  • (H) In the case where the basis of the claim is an application for an inventor's certificate, the requirements of 37 CFR 1.55(l) must also be met. See MPEP § 213.05.
  • (I) A certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.55. See MPEP § 215.02 et seq. for applications filed on or after March 16, 2013, and MPEP § 215.03 for applications filed before March 16, 2013. The claim for priority and the certified copy of the foreign application must, in any event, be filed within the pendency of the application and before the patent is granted. See MPEP § 213.04.
  • (J) If a nonprovisional application (other than a nonprovisional international design application) filed on or after March 16, 2013, claims priority to a foreign application filed prior to March 16, 2013, and also contains, or contained at any time, a claim to a claimed invention that has an effective filing date (as defined in 35 U.S.C. 100(i) ) on or after March 16, 2013, the applicant must provide a statement to that effect within a specified time period. See 37 CFR 1.55(k) and MPEP § 210, subsection III.

Applicant may be informed of possible priority rights under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) and (f) by using the wording of form paragraph 2.18.

¶ 2.18    Right of Priority Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) and (f)

Applicant is advised of possible benefits under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) and (f), wherein an application for patent filed in the United States may be entitled to claim priority to an application filed in a foreign country.