MPEP 2152.02(e)
Otherwise Available to the Public

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

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2152.02(e)    Otherwise Available to the Public [R-11.2013]

[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only 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 § 2131-MPEP § 2138 for examination of applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]

AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) provides a "catch-all" provision, which defines a new additional category of potential prior art not provided for in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102. Specifically, a claimed invention is not entitled to a patent if it was "otherwise available to the public" before its effective filing date. This "catch-all" provision permits decision makers to focus on whether the disclosure was "available to the public," rather than on the means by which the claimed invention became available to the public or whether a disclosure constitutes a "printed publication" or falls within another category of prior art as defined in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). The availability of the subject matter to the public may arise in situations such as a student thesis in a university library (see, e.g., In re Cronyn, 890 F.2d 1158, 13 USPQ2d 1070 (Fed. Cir. 1989); In re Hall, 781 F.2d 897, 228 USPQ 453 (Fed. Cir. 1986); In re Bayer, 568 F.2d 1357, 196 USPQ 670 (CCPA 1978) and MPEP § 2128.01, subsection I.); a poster display or other information disseminated at a scientific meeting (see, e.g., In re Klopfenstein, 380 F.3d 1345, 72 USPQ2d 1117 (Fed. Cir. 2004), Massachusetts Institute of Technology v. AB Fortia, 774 F.2d 1104, 227 USPQ 428 (Fed. Cir. 1985) and MPEP § 2128.01, subsection IV.); subject matter in a laid-open patent application or patent (see, e.g., In re Wyer, 655 F.2d 221, 210 USPQ 790 (CCPA 1981); see also Bruckelmyer v. Ground Heaters, Inc., 445 F.3d 1374, 78 USPQ2d 1684 (Fed. Cir. 2006)); a document electronically posted on the Internet (see, e.g., Voter Verified, Inc. v. Premier Election Solutions, Inc., 698 F.3d 1374, 104 USPQ2d 1553 (Fed. Cir. 2012), In re Lister, 583 F.3d 1307, 92 USPQ2d 1225 (Fed. Cir. 2009), SRI Int'l, Inc. v. Internet Sec. Sys., Inc., 511 F.3d 1186, 85 USPQ2d 1489 (Fed. Cir. 2008), and MPEP § 2128); or a commercial transaction that does not constitute a sale under the Uniform Commercial Code (see, e.g., Group One, Ltd. v. Hallmark Cards, Inc., 254 F.3d 1041, 59 USPQ2d 1121 (Fed. Cir. 2001) and MPEP § 2133.03(e)(1)). Even if a document or other disclosure is not a printed publication, or a transaction is not a sale, either may be prior art under the "otherwise available to the public" provision of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), provided that the claimed invention is made sufficiently available to the public.