MPEP 716.09
Sufficiency of Disclosure

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

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716.09    Sufficiency of Disclosure [R-11.2013]

See MPEP § 2164 - § 2164.08(c) for guidance in determining whether the specification provides an enabling disclosure in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph.

Once the examiner has established a prima facie case of lack of enablement, the burden falls on the applicant to present persuasive arguments, supported by suitable proofs where necessary, that one skilled in the art would have been able to make and use the claimed invention using the disclosure as a guide. In re Brandstadter, 484 F.2d 1395, 179 USPQ 286 (CCPA 1973). Evidence to supplement a specification which on its face appears deficient under 35 U.S.C. 112 must establish that the information which must be read into the specification to make it complete would have been known to those of ordinary skill in the art. In re Howarth, 654 F.2d 103, 210 USPQ 689 (CCPA 1981) (copies of patent specifications which had been opened for inspection in Rhodesia, Panama, and Luxembourg prior to the U.S. filing date of the applicant were not sufficient to overcome a rejection for lack of enablement under 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph).

Affidavits or declarations presented to show that the disclosure of an application is sufficient to one skilled in the art are not acceptable to establish facts which the specification itself should recite. In re Buchner, 929 F.2d 660, 18 USPQ2d 1331 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (Expert described how he would construct elements necessary to the claimed invention whose construction was not described in the application or the prior art; this was not sufficient to demonstrate that such construction was well-known to those of ordinary skill in the art.); In re Smyth, 189 F.2d 982, 90 USPQ 106 (CCPA 1951).

Affidavits or declarations purporting to explain the disclosure or to interpret the disclosure of a pending application are usually not considered. In re Oppenauer, 143 F.2d 974, 62 USPQ 297 (CCPA 1944). But see Glaser v. Strickland, 220 USPQ 446 (Bd. Pat. Int. 1983) which reexamines the rationale on which In re Oppenauer was based in light of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Board stated as a general proposition "Opinion testimony which merely purports to state that a claim or count, is ‘disclosed’ in an application involved in an interference... should not be given any weight. Opinion testimony which purports to state that a particular feature or limitation of a claim or count is disclosed in an application involved in an interference and which explains the underlying factual basis for the opinion may be helpful and can be admitted. The weight to which the latter testimony may be entitled must be evaluated strictly on a case-by-case basis."