MPEP 2136.02
Content of the Prior Art Available Against the Claims

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

Previous: §2136.01 | Next: §2136.03

2136.02    Content of the Prior Art Available Against the Claims [R-08.2017]

Editor Note: This MPEP section is not applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2150 et seq. for examination of applications subject to those provisions.]

I.    A 35 U.S.C. 102(e) REJECTION MAY RELY ON ANY PART OF THE PATENT OR APPLICATION PUBLICATION DISCLOSURE

Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the entire disclosure of a U.S. patent, a U.S. patent application publication, or an international application publication having an earlier effective U.S. filing date (which will include certain international filing dates) can be relied on to reject the claims. Sun Studs, Inc. v. ATA Equip. Leasing, Inc., 872 F.2d 978, 983, 10 USPQ2d 1338, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 1989). See MPEP § 706.02(a).

II.    REFERENCE MUST ITSELF CONTAIN THE SUBJECT MATTER RELIED ON IN THE REJECTION

When a U.S. patent, a U.S. patent application publication, or an international application publication is used to reject claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e), the disclosure relied on in the rejection must be present in the issued patent or application publication. It is the earliest effective U.S. filing date (which will include certain international filing dates) of the U.S. patent or application publication being relied on as the critical reference date and subject matter not included in the patent or application publication itself can only be used when that subject matter becomes public. Portions of the patent application which were canceled are not part of the patent or application publication and thus cannot be relied on in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over the issued patent or application publication. Ex parte Stalego, 154 USPQ 52 (Bd. App. 1966). Similarly, subject matter that is disclosed in an abandoned, unpublished parent application but was not carried over into the child patent or application publication may not be relied on as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e). In re Klesper, 397 F.2d 882, 886, 158 USPQ 256, 258 (CCPA 1968). See MPEP § 901.02 for more information on availability of abandoned applications as prior art. Likewise, subject matter which is disclosed in a parent application, but not included in the child continuation-in-part (CIP) cannot be relied on in a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over the issued or published CIP. In re Lund, 376 F.2d 982, 153 USPQ 625 (CCPA 1967) (The examiner made a pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) rejection over an issued U.S. patent which was a continuation-in-part (CIP). The parent application of the U.S. patent reference contained an example II which was not carried over to the CIP. The court held that the subject matter embodied in the canceled example II could not be relied on as of either parent or child filing date. Thus, the use of example II subject matter to reject the claims under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) was improper.).

Where a U.S. patent claims benefit to a provisional application, at least one claim of the patent must be supported by the disclosure of the relied upon provisional application in compliance withpre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, in order for the patent to be usable as prior art under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e) as of the relied upon provisional application’s filing date. See MPEP § 2136.03, subsection III.

III.    THE SUPREME COURT HAS AUTHORIZED 35 U.S.C. 103 REJECTIONS BASED ON PRE-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e)

U.S. patents may be used as of their filing dates to show that the claimed subject matter is anticipated or obvious. Obviousness can be shown by combining other prior art with the U.S. patent reference in a 35 U.S.C. 103 rejection. Hazeltine Research v. Brenner, 382 U.S. 252, 147 USPQ 429 (1965). Similarly, certain U.S. application publications and certain international application publications may also be used as of their earliest effective U.S. filing dates (which will include certain international filing dates) to show that the claimed subject matter would have been anticipated or obvious.

See MPEP § 706.02(1)(1) through § 706.02(l)(3) for additional information on rejections under 35 U.S.C. 103 and evidence of common ownership or a joint research agreement.