MPEP 215.02(a)
Timeliness Requirement – Met By Priority Document Exchange

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

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215.02(a)    Timeliness Requirement – Met By Priority Document Exchange [R-07.2015]

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

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  • (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.

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37 CFR 1.55(i) provides that the requirement in 37 CFR 1.55(f) and (g) for a certified copy of the foreign application to be filed within the time limit set forth in 37 CFR 1.55(f) and (g) will be considered satisfied if the Office receives a copy of the priority document through the priority document exchange program during the pendency of the application and before the patent is granted. 37 CFR 1.55(i) specifically provides that this requirement for a timely filed certified copy of the foreign application 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); (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 including the information necessary for the participating foreign intellectual property office to provide the Office with access to the foreign application; and (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 time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.55(g)(1) ).

37 CFR 1.55(i) also provides that if the foreign application was not filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office, but 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 applicant must also file a request in a separate document that the Office obtain a copy of the foreign application from the participating intellectual property office. This request must identify the participating intellectual property office and the application number and filing date of the subsequent application in which a copy of the foreign application was filed, and be filed within the later of sixteen months from the filing date of the prior foreign application or four months from the actual filing date of an application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), within four months from the later of the date of commencement (37 CFR 1.491(a) ) or the date of the initial submission under 35 U.S.C. 371 in an application entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371, or with a petition under 37 CFR 1.55(e) or (f). Applicants can use Form PTO/SB/38 (Request to Retrieve Electronic Priority Application(s)) to file such a request.

The Office website provides information concerning the priority document exchange program ( www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/international- protection/electronic-priority-document-exchange-pdx ). See also MPEP § 215.01. This information includes the intellectual property offices that participate in the priority document exchange program, as well as the information necessary for each participating foreign intellectual property office to provide the Office with access to the foreign application. The Office appreciates that an applicant may discover that the Office will not receive a copy of a foreign application through the priority document exchange program until after the expiration of the time frame specified in 37 CFR 1.55(f). In this situation, an applicant who otherwise meets the conditions of 37 CFR 1.55(i) may satisfy the requirement of 37 CFR 1.55(i)(3) by filing a certified copy of the foreign application in the Office within the pendency of the application and before the patent is granted.

Note that the Office cannot obtain a copy of a design application to which priority is claimed, or a foreign application to which priority is claimed in a design application, through the priority document exchange program. In addition, note that the Office can obtain a PCT application to which priority is claimed through the priority document exchange program for PCT applications filed in a limited number of PCT Receiving Offices (currently, RO/DK (Denmark), RO/FI (Finland), RO/IB (International Bureau), and RO/SE (Sweden)).

Applicants continue to bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the priority document is filed during the pendency of the application and before the patent is issued. Accordingly, applicants are encouraged to check as necessary to confirm receipt by the Office of appropriate documents. Priority documents retrieved from a participating foreign intellectual property office will bear the document description: ‘‘Priority documents electronically retrieved by USPTO from a participating IP Office.’’ Furthermore, 37 CFR 1.55(i)(4) provides that, under specified conditions, if the foreign application was not filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office, the applicant can file a request in a separate document 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. Applicants can use Form PTO/SB/38 (Request to Retrieve Electronic Priority Application(s)) to file such a request. If the Office receives a copy of the foreign application from the participating foreign intellectual property office within the pendency of the application and before the patent is granted, the applicant need not file a certified paper copy of the foreign application. As a specific example, Germany is not currently a participating foreign intellectual property office, however a DE application may be retrieved via the priority document exchange program if it is identified in the claim for priority on the application data sheet, a subsequent application filed in the European Patent Office (EPO) or the Japan Patent Office (JPO) contains a certified copy of the DE application, and the applicant timely files a separate request for the Office to obtain from the EPO or JPO a copy of the certified copy of the DE application, wherein the request identifies the DE application and the subsequent EP or JP application by their application number, country, day, month, and year of their filing.

The Office treats a proper priority claim under 37 CFR 1.55 to an application filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office as a request that the Office obtain a copy of the foreign application from the participating intellectual property office. A separate written request may be used when the applicant wishes the Office to retrieve a foreign application from a foreign intellectual property office that becomes a participating foreign intellectual property office after the foreign priority has been claimed, so long as the time period set in 37 CFR 1.55(f) has not expired. A separate written request is required in the situation where the foreign application is not originally filed in a participating office, but a certified copy of the foreign application was filed in an application subsequently filed in a participating foreign intellectual property office.