MPEP 216.01
Perfecting Claim for Priority Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or (f) After Issuance of a Patent

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

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216.01    Perfecting Claim for Priority Under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or (f) After Issuance of a Patent [R-08.2017]

35 U.S.C. 119  Benefit of Earlier Filing Date; Right of Priority.

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  • (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.

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

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  • (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 (b), or 386(a) or 386(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.

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The failure to perfect a claim to foreign priority prior to issuance of the patent may be cured via a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323, provided the requirements of 37 CFR 1.55 are met, or by filing a reissue application.

Except in certain situations, a certificate of correction can generally be used to perfect a claim to foreign priority where a petition under 37 CFR 1.55(e) to accept an unintentionally delayed priority claim is filed with a request for a certificate of correction in an issued patent. In situations where further examination would be required, the petition should not be granted. For example, further examination would be required where grant of the petition would cause the patent to be subject to a different statutory framework, e.g., where the foreign application has a pre-March 16, 2013 filing date in a patent that was examined under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA. In such situations, the filing of a reissue application with a petition for an unintentionally delayed priority claim would be required.

I.    PERFECTING PRIORITY CLAIM VIA CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION

Effective May 13, 2015, 37 CFR 1.55(g) provides that the claim for priority and the certified copy of the foreign application must be filed within the pendency of the application, unless filed with a petition under 37 CFR 1.55(e), (f), or (g) as appropriate. 37 CFR 1.55(g) eliminates the need in many instances to file a reissue application in order to perfect a claim for foreign priority. Specifically,

  • (A) Where the priority claim required under 37 CFR 1.55 was timely filed in the application but was not included on the patent because the requirement under 37 CFR 1.55 for a certified copy was not satisfied, the patent may be corrected to include the priority claim via a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323, accompanied by a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.55(f) or, in the case of a design application, a grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.55(g). In this situation, a petition under 37 CFR 1.55(e) to accept an unintentionally delayed priority claim is not needed. A grantable petition under 37 CFR 1.55(f) or (g) must include the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(g) and a showing of good and sufficient cause for the delay in filing the certified copy of the foreign application; and
  • (B) Where a priority claim under 37 CFR 1.55 was not timely made, 37 CFR 1.55(g) allows the priority claim and the certified copy required under 37 CFR 1.55 to be filed pursuant to a petition under 37 CFR 1.55(e) even if the application is not pending (e.g., a patented application) in situations where the correction sought would not require further examination.

37 CFR 1.55(h) provides that the requirement for a certified copy of the foreign application will 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 the prior-filed nonprovisional application is identified as containing a certified copy of the foreign application. Thus, applicant may request a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323 where the prior-filed nonprovisional application is identified as containing a certified copy of the foreign application and where the priority claim was timely made in the application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) and the certified copy of the foreign application was timely filed in the parent application.

As an example of when a request to issue a certificate of correction may be used in order to perfect a claim to foreign priority benefits, see In re Van Esdonk, 187 USPQ 671 (Comm’r Pat. 1975). In In re Van Esdonk, a claim to foreign priority benefits had not been filed in the application prior to issuance of the patent. However, the application was a continuation of an earlier application in which the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) or (f) had been satisfied. Accordingly, the Commissioner held that the "applicants’ perfection of a priority claim under 35 U.S.C. 119 in the parent application will satisfy the statute with respect to their continuation application."

Although In re Van Esdonk involved the patent of a continuation application filed under former 37 CFR 1.60, it is proper to apply the holding of that case in similar factual circumstances to any patented application having benefits under 35 U.S.C. 120. This is primarily because a claim to foreign priority benefits in a continuing application, where the claim has been perfected in the parent application, constitutes in essence a mere affirmation of the applicant’s previously expressed desire to receive benefits under 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) or (f) for subject matter common to the foreign, parent, and continuing applications.

In summary, a certificate of correction under 35 U.S.C. 255 and 37 CFR 1.323 may be requested and issued in order to perfect a claim for foreign priority benefit in a patent if (1) the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) or (f) had been satisfied in the patented application or in a parent application prior to issuance of the patent, (2) the requirements of 37 CFR 1.55 are met, and (3) the correction sought would not require further examination.

II.    PERFECTING PRIORITY CLAIM VIA REISSUE

As an alternative to requesting a certificate of correction, a claim to foreign priority benefits can be perfected by way of a reissue application in accordance with the rationale set forth in Brenner v. State of Israel, 400 F.2d 789, 158 USPQ 584 (D.C. Cir. 1968). In circumstances where a claim to foreign priority benefits cannot be perfected via a certificate of correction because the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 119(a) -(d) or (f) had not been satisfied in the patented application, or its parent, prior to issuance, and the requirements of 37 CFR 1.55 are not met, or where the correction sought would require further examination (e.g., where the foreign application has a pre-March 16, 2013 filing date in a patent that was examined under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA) the claim to foreign priority benefits can be perfected only by way of a reissue application. Note that 37 CFR 1.55(h) provides that the requirement 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 for a certified copy of the foreign application and such patent is identified as containing a certified copy of the foreign application.