MPEP 2153.02
Prior Art Exception Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) (Inventor-Originated Prior Public Disclosure Exception)

Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2022, Last Revised in February 2023

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2153.02    Prior Art Exception Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) to AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) (Inventor-Originated Prior Public Disclosure Exception) [R-07.2022]

[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(b)(1)(B) provides additional exceptions to the prior art provisions of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). These provisions except as prior art a disclosure of subject matter that occurs after the subject matter had been publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. Specifically, AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) provides that a disclosure which would otherwise qualify as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) (patent, printed publication, public use, sale, or other means of public availability) is excepted as prior art if: (1) the disclosure was made one year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention; and (2) the subject matter disclosed had been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor. The previous public disclosure of the subject matter by the inventor, a joint inventor, or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor typically will be a disclosure within the one-year grace period (i.e., a grace period inventor-originated disclosure). However, if the previous public disclosure of the subject matter was made outside the grace period, it would qualify as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) that could not be excepted under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A). MPEP § 2152.01 discusses the "effective filing date" of a claimed invention. MPEP § 2155.02 discusses the use of affidavits or declarations to show that the subject matter disclosed had, before such disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, and MPEP § 2155.03 discusses the use of affidavits or declarations to show that the disclosure was made, or that the subject matter had been previously publicly disclosed, by another obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor.

The exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) applies if the "subject matter disclosed [in the intervening disclosure] had, before such [intervening] disclosure, been publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor)." See 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B). The exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) focuses on the "subject matter" that had been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor). The subject matter in the prior disclosure being relied upon under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) must be the same "subject matter" as the subject matter previously publicly disclosed by the inventor for the exceptions in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) and 102(b)(2)(B) to apply. The exceptions in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) and 102(b)(2)(B) do not apply even if the only differences between the subject matter in the prior art disclosure that is relied upon under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and the subject matter previously publicly disclosed by the inventor are mere insubstantial changes, or only trivial or obvious variations. This guidance maintains the identical subject matter interpretation of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) and 102(b)(2)(B).

There is no requirement under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) that the mode of disclosure by the inventor or a joint inventor (or another who obtained the subject matter directly or indirectly from the inventor or joint inventor) be the same as the mode of disclosure of the intervening grace period disclosure (e.g., patenting, publication, public use, sale activity). There is also no requirement that the disclosure by the inventor or a joint inventor be a verbatim or ipsissimis verbis disclosure of the intervening grace period disclosure. See In re Kao, 639 F.3d 1057, 1066 98 USPQ2d 1799, 1806 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (subject matter does not change as a function of how one chooses to describe it). What is required for subject matter in an intervening grace period disclosure to be excepted under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) is that the same subject matter as in the intervening disclosure must have been previously publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or by another who obtained the subject matter therefrom).

The exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) applies to the subject matter in the intervening grace period disclosure being relied upon as prior art for a rejection under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) (an intervening disclosure) that was also publicly disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor (or by another who obtained the subject matter therefrom) before such intervening disclosure. The subject matter of an intervening grace period disclosure that is not in the inventor-originated prior public disclosure is available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). For example, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed A, B, and C, and a subsequent intervening grace period disclosure discloses A, B, C, and D, then D remains available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) even though the AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) exception applies such that A, B, and C are not prior art. In other words, the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) does not necessarily remove the entire disclosure in the intervening reference from being prior art.

In addition, if subject matter of an intervening grace period disclosure is simply a more general description of the subject matter in an inventor-originated prior public disclosure, the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) applies to such subject matter of the intervening grace period disclosure. To hold otherwise would unfairly deprive an inventor of a patent merely because a third party became aware of the inventor’s public disclosure and then publicized a genericized version of it. For example, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a species, and a subsequent intervening grace period disclosure discloses a genus (i.e., provides a more generic disclosure of the species), the intervening grace period disclosure of the genus is not available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). Conversely, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a genus, and a subsequent intervening grace period disclosure discloses a species, the intervening grace period disclosure of the species would be available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1). Likewise, if the inventor or a joint inventor had publicly disclosed a species, and a subsequent intervening grace period disclosure discloses an alternative species not also disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, the intervening grace period disclosure of the alternative species would be available as prior art under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) because the "subject matter disclosed" requirement of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) would not have been met.

Finally, AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) does not discuss "the claimed invention" with respect to either the subject matter disclosed by the inventor or a joint inventor, or the subject matter of the subsequent intervening grace period disclosure. The only inquiry with respect to the claimed invention is whether or not the subject matter in the prior art disclosure being relied upon anticipates or renders obvious the claimed invention. A determination of whether the exception in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) is applicable to subject matter in an intervening grace period disclosure does not involve a comparison of the subject matter of the claimed invention to either the subject matter in the inventor-originated prior public disclosure, or to the subject matter of the subsequent intervening grace period disclosure.

The one-year grace period in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(B) is extended to the next succeeding business day if the end of the one-year grace period otherwise falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday. Ex parte Olah, 131 USPQ 41 (Bd. App. 1960) and 35 U.S.C. 21(b). The provisions of 35 U.S.C. 21(b) still apply notwithstanding the provisions of 37 CFR 1.6(a)(2) and 37 CFR 1.10, which accord a filing date as of the date of deposit as Priority Mail Express® with the U.S. Postal Service in accordance with 37 CFR 1.10, and 37 CFR 1.6(a)(4), which accords a filing date as of the date of submission using the USPTO patent electronic filing system in accordance with the USPTO patent electronic filing system requirements.