MPEP 609.04(b)
Timing Requirements for an Information Disclosure Statement

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

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609.04(b)    Timing Requirements for an Information Disclosure Statement [R-07.2015]

The procedures and requirements under 37 CFR 1.97 for submitting an information disclosure statement are linked to four stages in the processing of a patent application:

  • (1)
    • (a) for national applications (not including CPAs), within three months of filing, or before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits, whichever is later;
    • (b) for international applications, within three months of the date of entry of the national stage as set forth in 37 CFR 1.491 or before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits in the national stage application, whichever is later;
    • (c) for continued examinations (i.e., RCEs filed under 37 CFR 1.114 ) and CPAs filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d), before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits;
    • (d) for international design applications, within three months of the date of publication of the international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3) or before first Office action on the merits, whichever is later;
  • (2) after the period in (1), but prior to the prosecution of the application closes, i.e., before the mailing of a final Office action, a Notice of Allowance, or an Ex parte Quayle action, whichever is earlier;
  • (3) after the period in (2) but on or before the date the issue fee is paid; and
  • (4) after the period in (3) and up to the time the patent application can be effectively withdrawn from issue under 37 CFR 1.313(c).

These procedures and requirements apply to applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) (utility), 161 (plants), 171 (designs), and 251 (reissue), as well as international applications entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371.

The requirements based on the time when the information disclosure statement is filed are summarized in MPEP § 609.01.

I.    INFORMATION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT FILED BEFORE FIRST ACTION ON THE MERITS OR WITHIN THREE (3) MONTHS OF ACTUAL FILING DATE, NATIONAL STAGE ENTRY DATE, OR PUBLICATION UNDER ARTICLE 10(3) OF THE HAGUE AGREEMENT (37 CFR 1.97(b))

An information disclosure statement will be considered by the examiner if filed within any one of the following time periods:

  • (A) for national applications (not including CPAs), within three months of the filing date of the national application or before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits;
  • (B) for international applications, within three months of the date of entry of the national stage as set forth in 37 CFR 1.491 or before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits;
  • (C) for RCEs and CPAs, before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits; or
  • (D) for international design applications, within three months of the date of publication of the international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3) or before first Office action on the merits, whichever is later

An information disclosure statement filed within one of these periods requires neither a fee nor a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e). An information disclosure statement will be considered to have been filed on the day it was received in the Office, or on an earlier date of mailing if accompanied by a properly executed certificate of mailing or facsimile transmission under 37 CFR 1.8, or if it is in compliance with the provisions of Priority Mail Express® delivery under 37 CFR 1.10. If the last day of the three months period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(b)(1) and (b)(2) falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a federal holiday within the District of Columbia, the IDS will be considered timely if filed on the next succeeding business day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a federal holiday. See 37 CFR 1.7(a). An Office action is mailed on the date indicated in the Office action.

It would not be proper to make final a first Office action in a continuing application or in an application after the filing of a RCE if the information submitted in the IDS during the time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(b) is used in a new ground of rejection.

A.    National Applications, International Applications, and International Design Applications

The term "national application" includes continuing applications (continuations, divisions, and continuations-in-part but not CPAs), so three months will be measured from the actual filing date of an application as opposed to the effective filing date of a continuing application. For international applications, the three months will be measured from the date of entry of the national stage. For international design applications, the three months will be measured from the date of publication of the international registration under Hague Agreement Article 10(3).

All information disclosure statements that comply with the content requirements of 37 CFR 1.98 and are filed within three months of the filing date, will be considered by the examiner, regardless of whatever else has occurred in the examination process up to that point in time. Thus, in the rare instance that a final Office action, a notice of allowance, or an Ex parte Quayle action is mailed prior to a date which is three months from the filing date, any information contained in a complete information disclosure statement filed within that three-month window will be considered by the examiner.

Likewise, an information disclosure statement will be considered if it is filed later than three months after the application filing date but before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits. An action on the merits means an action which treats the patentability of the claims in an application, as opposed to only formal or procedural requirements. An action on the merits would, for example, contain a rejection or indication of allowability of a claim or claims rather than just a restriction requirement (37 CFR 1.142 ) or just a requirement for additional fees to have a claim considered (37 CFR 1.16 ). Thus, if an application was filed on January 2 and the first Office action on the merits was not mailed until six months later on July 2, the examiner would be required to consider any proper information disclosure statement filed prior to July 2.

B.    RCE and CPA

The three-month window as discussed above does not apply to a RCE filed under 37 CFR 1.114 or a CPA filed under 37 CFR 1.53(d) (effective July 14, 2003, CPAs are only available for design applications). An IDS filed after the filing of a RCE will be considered if the IDS is filed before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits. A RCE is not the filing of an application, but merely the continuation of prosecution in the current application. After the mailing of a RCE, such application is treated as an amended application by the examiner and is subject to a short turnover time. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to file any IDS with the filing of a RCE. See MPEP § 706.07(h) for details on RCEs.

Similarly, an IDS filed in a CPA will be considered if the IDS is filed before the mailing date of a first Office action on the merits. Applicants are encouraged to file any IDS in a CPA as early as possible, preferably at the time of filing of the CPA request.

If an IDS cannot be filed before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits (generally within two months from the filing of the RCE or CPA), applicants may request a three-month suspension of action under 37 CFR 1.103(c) in an application at the time of filing of the RCE, or under 37 CFR 1.103(b) in a CPA, at the time of filing of the CPA. Where an IDS is mailed to the Office shortly before the expiration of a three-month suspension under 37 CFR 1.103(b) or (c), applicant is requested to make a courtesy call to notify the examiner as to the IDS submission.

II.    INFORMATION DISCLOSURE FILED AFTER I. ABOVE BUT BEFORE MAILING OF FINAL ACTION, NOTICE OF ALLOWANCE, OR AN EX PARTE QUAYLE ACTION (37 CFR 1.97(c))

An information disclosure statement will be considered by the examiner if filed after the period specified in subsection I. above, but prior to the date the prosecution of the application closes, i.e., before (not on the same day as the mailing date of any of the following:

a final action under 37 CFR 1.113, e.g., final rejection;

a notice of allowance under 37 CFR 1.311; or

an action that closes prosecution in the application, e.g., an Ex parte Quayle action,

whichever occurs first, provided the information disclosure statement is accompanied by either (1) a statement as specified in 37 CFR 1.97(e) (see the discussion in subsection V below); or (2) the fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p). If a final action, notice of allowance, or an Ex parte Quayle action is mailed in an application and later withdrawn, the application will be considered as not having had a final action, notice of allowance, or an Ex parte Quayle action mailed for purposes of considering an information disclosure statement.

An Ex parte Quayle action is an action that closes the prosecution in the application as referred to in 37 CFR 1.97(c). Therefore, an information disclosure statement filed after an Ex parte Quayle action must comply with the provisions of 37 CFR 1.97(d).

A.    Information is Used in a New Ground of Rejection

1.   Final Rejection is Not Appropriate

If information submitted during the period set forth in 37 CFR 1.97(c) with a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) is used in a new ground of rejection on unamended claims, the next Office action will not be made final since in this situation it is clear that applicant has submitted the information to the Office promptly after it has become known and the information is being submitted prior to a final determination on patentability by the Office.

2.   Final Rejection Is Appropriate

The information submitted with a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) can be used in a new ground of rejection and the next Office action can be made final, if the new ground of rejection was necessitated by amendment of the application by applicant. Where the information is submitted during this period with a fee as set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(p), the examiner may use the information submitted, and make the next Office action final whether or not the claims have been amended, provided that no other new ground of rejection which was not necessitated by amendment to the claims is introduced by the examiner. See MPEP § 706.07(a).

III.    INFORMATION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT FILED AFTER II. ABOVE BUT PRIOR TO PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE (37 CFR 1.97(d))

An information disclosure statement will be considered by the examiner if filed on or after the mailing date of any of the following: a final action under 37 CFR 1.113; a notice of allowance under 37 CFR 1.311; or an action that closes prosecution in the application, e.g., an Ex parte Quayle action, but before or simultaneous with payment of the issue fee, provided the statement is accompanied by:

These requirements are appropriate in view of the late stage of prosecution when the information is being submitted, i.e., after the examiner has reached a final determination on the patentability of the claims presented for examination. Payment of the fee (37 CFR 1.17(p) ) and submission of the appropriate statement (37 CFR 1.97(e) ) are the essential elements for having information considered at this advanced stage of prosecution, assuming the content requirements of 37 CFR 1.98 are satisfied.

Form paragraph 6.52 may be used to inform the applicant that the information disclosure statement is being considered.

¶ 6.52    Information Disclosure Statement Filed After Prosecution Has Been Closed

The information disclosure statement (IDS) submitted on [1] was filed after the mailing date of the [2] on [3]. The submission is in compliance with the provisions of 37 CFR 1.97. Accordingly, the information disclosure statement is being considered by the examiner.

Examiner Note:

1. In bracket 1, insert the date the IDS was filed.

2. In bracket 2, insert --final Office action--, --Notice of Allowance--, or an --Ex parte Quayle action-- as appropriate.

The requirements of 37 CFR 1.97 provide for consideration by the Office of information which is submitted within a reasonable time, i.e., within three months after an individual designated in 37 CFR 1.56(c) becomes aware of the information or within three months of the information being cited in a communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application. This undertaking by the Office to consider information would be available throughout the pendency of the application until the point where the patent issue fee was paid.

If an applicant chose not to comply, or could not comply, with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.97(d), the applicant may file a RCE under 37 CFR 1.114, or a continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b) (or 37 CFR 1.53(d) if the application is a design application) to have the information considered by the examiner. If the applicant files a continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b), the parent application could be permitted to become abandoned by not paying the issue fee required in the Notice of Allowance. If the prior application is a design application, the filing of a continued prosecution application under 37 CFR 1.53(d) automatically abandons the prior application. See the discussion in MPEP § 609.02.

IV.    INFORMATION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT FILED AFTER PAYMENT OF ISSUE FEE

After the issue fee has been paid on an application, it is impractical for the Office to attempt to consider newly submitted information. Information disclosure statements filed after payment of the issue fee in an application will not be considered but will merely be placed in the application file. See MPEP § 609.05(b). The application may be withdrawn from issue at this point, pursuant to 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) or 1.313(c)(3) so that the information can be considered in the application upon the filing of a RCE under 37 CFR 1.114 or in a continuing application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) (or 37 CFR 1.53(d) if the application is a design application). In this situation, a RCE, or a CPA (if the prior application is a design application), or a continuing application filed under 37 CFR 1.53(b) could be filed even though the issue fee had already been paid. See MPEP § 1308. Applicants are encouraged to file the petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) with a RCE, or the petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3) with a CPA or continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b), by EFS-Web (see MPEP § 502.05) or facsimile transmission to the Office of Petitions (see MPEP § 502.01, subsection I.B. and § 17.0 for the facsimile number). Alternatively, petitions to withdraw from issue may be hand-carried to the Office of Petitions (see MPEP § 502). The Office cannot ensure that any petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c) will be acted upon prior to the date of patent grant. Applicants considering filing a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c) are encouraged to call the Office of Petitions to determine whether sufficient time remains before the patent issue date to consider and grant a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c). If a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3) is being filed by facsimile transmission, the petition need not be accompanied by the information disclosure statement if the size of the statement makes its submission by facsimile impracticable, but the petition should indicate that an IDS will be filed in the continuing application if it does not accompany the petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3). The IDS should be filed before the mailing of a first Office action on the merits. If a design CPA is being filed and the IDS cannot be filed within this time period, applicants may request a three-month suspension of action under 37 CFR 1.103(b) at the time of filing of the design CPA. See the discussion above in paragraph I.B. If a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) is being filed, the RCE must be accompanied by a proper submission in order for the RCE to be in compliance with 37 CFR 1.114. Therefore, the IDS must accompany the RCE and the petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2) if the IDS is the submission for the RCE.

Alternatively, for example, a petition pursuant to 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1) could be filed if applicant states that one or more claims are unpatentable. This statement that one or more claims are unpatentable over the information must be unequivocal. A statement that a serious question as to patentability of a claim has been raised, for example, would not be acceptable to withdraw an application from issue under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1). Form paragraph 13.09 may be used.

¶ 13.09    Information Disclosure Statement, Issue Fee Paid

Applicant’s information disclosure statement of [1] was filed after the issue fee was paid. Information disclosure statements filed after payment of the issue fee will not be considered, but will be placed in the file. However, the application may be withdrawn from issue in order to file a request for continued examination (RCE) under 37 CFR 1.114 upon the grant of a petition under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(2), or a continuing application under 37 CFR 1.53(b) (or a continued prosecution application (CPA) under 37 CFR 1.53(d) if the CPA is for a design patent and the prior application of the CPA is a design application filed under 35 U.S.C. chapter 16) upon the grant of a petition filed under the provisions of 37 CFR 1.313(c)(3). Alternatively, the other provisions of 37 CFR 1.313 may apply, e.g., a petition to withdraw the application from issue under the provisions of 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1) may be filed together with an unequivocal statement by the applicant that one or more claims are unpatentable over the information contained in the statement. The information disclosure statement would then be considered upon withdrawal of the application from issue under 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1).

Examiner Note:

1. For information disclosure statements submitted after the issue fee has been paid, use this form paragraph with form PTOL-90 or PTO-90C.

2. In bracket 1, insert the filing date of the IDS.

If an application has been withdrawn from issue under one of the provisions of 37 CFR 1.313(c)(1)-(3), it will be treated as though no notice of allowance had been mailed and the issue fee had not yet been paid with regard to the time for filing information disclosure statements. Petitions under 37 CFR 1.313(c) should be directed to the Office of Petitions in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy. See MPEP § 1308.

V.    STATEMENT UNDER 37 CFR 1.97(e)

A statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) must state either

  • (1) that each item of information contained in the information disclosure statement was first cited in any communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application not more than three months prior to the filing of the statement, or
  • (2) that no item of information contained in the information disclosure statement was cited in a communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application, and, to the knowledge of the person signing the statement after making reasonable inquiry, no item of information contained in the information disclosure statement was known to any individual designated in 37 CFR 1.56(c) more than three months prior to the filing of the statement.

A statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) can contain either of two statements. One statement is that each item of information in an information disclosure statement was first cited in any communication, such as a search report, from a patent office outside the U.S. in a counterpart foreign application not more than three months prior to the filing date of the statement. Applicant would not be able to make a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) where an item of information was first cited by a foreign patent office, for example, a year before the filing of the IDS, in a communication from that foreign patent office, and the same item of information is once again cited by another foreign patent office within three months prior to the filing of the IDS in the Office. Similarly, applicant would not be able to make a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) where an item of information was cited in an examination report and the same item of information was previously cited more than three months prior to the filing of the IDS in the Office, in a search report from the same foreign patent office. Under this statement, it does not matter whether any individual with a duty of disclosure actually knew about any of the information cited before receiving the search report.

The date on the communication by the foreign patent office begins the three-month period in the same manner as the mailing of an Office action starts a three-month shortened statutory period for reply. If the communication contains two dates, the mailing date of the communication is the one which begins the three-month period. The date which begins the three-month period is not the date the communication was received by a foreign associate or the date it was received by a U.S. registered practitioner. Likewise, the statement will be considered to have been filed on the date the statement was received in the Office, or on an earlier date of mailing or transmission if accompanied by a properly executed certificate of mailing or facsimile transmission under 37 CFR 1.8, or if it is in compliance with the provisions for Priority Mail Express® delivery under 37 CFR 1.10.

The term counterpart foreign patent application means that a claim for priority has been made in either the U.S. application or a foreign application based on the other, or that the disclosures of the U.S. and foreign patent applications are substantively identical (e.g., an application filed in the European Patent Office claiming the same U.K. priority as claimed in the U.S. application).

Communications from foreign patent offices in foreign applications sometimes include a list of the family of patents corresponding to a particular patent being cited in the communication. The family of patents may include a United States patent or other patent in the English language. Some applicants submit information disclosure statements to the PTO which list and include copies of both the particular patent cited in the foreign patent office communication and the related United States or other English language patent from the family list. Since this is to be encouraged, the United States or other English language patent will be construed as being cited by the foreign patent office for purposes of a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e)(1). The examiner should consider the United States or other English language patent if 37 CFR 1.97 and 37 CFR 1.98 are complied with.

If an information disclosure statement includes a copy of a dated communication from a foreign patent office which clearly shows that the statement is being submitted within three months of the date on the communication, the copy of the dated communication from the foreign patent office by itself will not be accepted as the required statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e)(1) since it would not be clear from the dated communication whether the information in the IDS was "first cited" in any communication from a foreign patent office not more than three months prior to the filing of the IDS as required by 37 CFR 1.97(e)(1).

In the alternative, a statement can be made if no item of information contained in the information disclosure statement was cited in a communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application and, to the knowledge of the person signing the statement after making reasonable inquiry, neither was it known to any individual having a duty to disclose more than three months prior to the filing of the statement. If an inventor of the U.S. application is also a named inventor of one of the items of information contained in the IDS, the 37 CFR 1.97(e)(2) statement cannot be made for that particular item of information, and if made, will not be accepted.

The phrase "after making reasonable inquiry" makes it clear that the individual making the statement has a duty to make reasonable inquiry regarding the facts that are being stated. The statement can be made by a registered practitioner who represents a foreign client and who relies on statements made by the foreign client as to the date the information first became known. A registered practitioner who receives information from a client without being informed whether the information was known for more than three months, however, cannot make the statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e)(2) without making reasonable inquiry. For example, if an inventor gave a publication to the attorney prosecuting an application with the intent that it be cited to the Office, the attorney should inquire as to when that inventor became aware of the publication and should not submit a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e)(2) to the Office until a satisfactory response is received. The statement can be based on present, good faith knowledge about when information became known without a search of files being made.

A statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) need not be in the form of an oath or a declaration under 37 CFR 1.68. A statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) by a registered practitioner or any other individual that the statement was filed within the three-month period of either first citation by a foreign patent office or first discovery of the information will be accepted as dispositive of compliance with this provision in the absence of evidence to the contrary. For example, a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) could read as follows:

I hereby state that each item of information contained in this Information Disclosure Statement was first cited in any communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application not more than three months prior to the filing of this statement.,

or

I hereby state that no item of information in the Information Disclosure Statement filed herewith was cited in a communication from a foreign patent office in a counterpart foreign application, and, to my knowledge after making reasonable inquiry, no item of information contained in this Information Disclosure Statement was known to any individual designated in 37 CFR 1.56(c) more than three months prior to the filing of this Information Disclosure Statement.

An information disclosure statement may include two lists and two statements, similar to the above examples, in situations where some of the information listed was cited in a communication from a foreign patent office not more than three months prior to filing the statement and some was not, but was not known more than three months prior to filing the statement.

A copy of the foreign search report need not be submitted with the statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e), but an individual may wish to submit an English-language version of the search report to satisfy the requirement for a concise explanation where non-English language information is cited. The time at which information was known to any individual designated in 37 CFR 1.56(c) is the time when the information was discovered in association with the application even if awareness of the materiality came later. The Office wishes to encourage prompt evaluation of the relevance of information and to have a date certain for determining if a statement under 37 CFR 1.97(e) can properly be made. A statement on information and belief would not be sufficient. Examiners should not remind or otherwise make any comment about an individual’s duty of candor and good faith. Questions about the adequacy of any statement received in writing by the Office should be directed to the Office of Patent Legal Administration.

VI.    EXTENSIONS OF TIME (37 CFR 1.97(f))

No extensions of time for filing an information disclosure statement are permitted under 37 CFR 1.136(a) or (b). If a bona fide attempt is made to comply with the content requirements of 37 CFR 1.98, but part of the required content is inadvertently omitted, additional time may be given to enable full compliance.