MPEP 724.06
Handling of Petitions To Expunge Information or Copy of Papers in Application File

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

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724.06    Handling of Petitions To Expunge Information or Copy of Papers in Application File [R-07.2015]

37 C.F.R. 1.59 Expungement of information or copy of papers in application file.

  • (a)
    • (1) Information in an application will not be expunged, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section or § 41.7(a) or § 42.7(a) of this title.
    • (2) Information forming part of the original disclosure (i.e., written specification including the claims, drawings, and any preliminary amendment present on the filing date of the application) will not be expunged from the application file.
  • (b) An applicant may request that the Office expunge information, other than what is excluded by paragraph (a)(2) of this section, by filing a petition under this paragraph. Any petition to expunge information from an application must include the fee set forth in § 1.17(g) and establish to the satisfaction of the Director that the expungement of the information is appropriate in which case a notice granting the petition for expungement will be provided.
  • (c) Upon request by an applicant and payment of the fee specified in § 1.19(b), the Office will furnish copies of an application, unless the application has been disposed of (see §§ 1.53(e), (f) and (g) ). The Office cannot provide or certify copies of an application that has been disposed of.

37 CFR 1.59 provides that information, other than the original disclosure of the application, may be expunged from the file wrapper provided a petition to expunge under 37 CFR 1.59(b) and the required fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(g) are filed, and further that petitioner has established to the satisfaction of the Director that the return of the information is appropriate. Expungement of information that was originally submitted to the Office under MPEP § 724.02, or that should have been submitted in a sealed envelope as discussed in MPEP § 724.02, is appropriate when the petitioner complies with items (A)-(E) set forth in MPEP § 724.05, paragraph I, and the examiner or other appropriate Office official who is responsible for considering the information has determined that the information is not material to patentability. Expungement of information that was inadvertently submitted to the Office is appropriate provided that items (A)-(F) set forth in MPEP § 724.05, paragraph II, are satisfied. See also MPEP § 724.

Where the information to be expunged was not submitted pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or as part of an Information Disclosure Statement, the petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision.

The decision on the petition to expunge should be held in abeyance until the application is allowed or an Ex parte Quayle action, or a Notice of Abandonment is mailed, at which time the petition will be decided. However, where it is clear that the information was submitted in the wrong application, then the decision on the petition should not be held in abeyance. See MPEP § 724.05, paragraph III. In a pending application that has not been allowed or in which an Ex parte Quayle action has not been mailed, the examiner may not have finally considered what is material to a decision of patentability of the claims. Petitioner may be notified that the decision on the petition under 37 CFR 1.59(b) to expunge information in an application will be held in abeyance and be decided upon allowance of the application, or the mailing of an Ex parte Quayle action or a Notice of Abandonment using form paragraph 7.204.

¶ 7.204    Petition Under 37 CFR 1.59(b) To Expunge Information: Decision Held in Abeyance

In re Application of [1] : Appl. No.: [2] : RESPONSE TO PETITION Filed: [3] : UNDER 37 CFR 1.59 For: [4] :

This is a response to the petition under 37 CFR 1.59(b), filed [5], to expunge information from the above identified application.

The decision on the petition will be held in abeyance until allowance of the application or mailing of an Ex parte Quayle action or a Notice of Abandonment, at which time the petition will be decided.

Petitioner requests that a document entitled [6], filed [7], be expunged from the record. Petitioner states either: (A) that the information contains trade secret material, proprietary material and/or material that is subject to a protective order which has not been made public; or (B) that the information submitted was unintentionally submitted and the failure to obtain its return would cause irreparable harm to the party who submitted the information or to the party in interest on whose behalf the information was submitted, and the information has not otherwise been made public. The petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(g) has been paid.

The decision on the petition is held in abeyance because prosecution on the merits is not closed. Accordingly, it is not appropriate to make a final determination of whether or not the material requested to be expunged is "material," with "materiality" being defined as any information which the examiner considers as being important to a determination of patentability of the claims. Thus, the decision on the petition to expunge must be held in abeyance at this time.

During prosecution on the merits, the examiner will determine whether or not the identified document is considered to be "material." If the information is not considered by the examiner to be material, the information will be removed from the official file.

Examiner Note:

1. A Technology Center Director decides this petition only if the information was submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement.

2. The petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision if:

(a) the information was not submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement. Information which is part of the original disclosure (specification including any claims, drawings, and any preliminary amendment present on the filing date of the application) cannot be expunged under 37 CFR 1.59. Some papers entered into the application file, e.g., arguments made in an amendment, may be expunged under appropriate circumstance, however, the petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision; or

(b) the petition is also accompanied by a petition under 37 CFR 1.183 requesting waiver of one of the requirements explicitly set forth in 37 CFR 1.59 (e.g., requesting expungement of part of the original disclosure).

3. This decision is printed with the USPTO letterhead.

4. In bracket 6, clearly identify the document which petitioner requests to expunge. For example, refer to the author and title of the document.

5. Mail with PTO-90C cover sheet.

When an application has been allowed, an Ex parte Quayle action has been mailed, or an application is abandoned, a petition to expunge should be decided by a TC Director (see MPEP § 1002.02(c)). At this time a determination must be made as to whether the information in question is material. Form paragraph 7.205 should be used to grant a petition to expunge, whereas form paragraphs 7.206 - 7.213 should be used to dismiss such a petition.

¶ 7.205    Petition Under 37 CFR 1.59(b) To Expunge Information Granted

In re Application of [1] : Appl. No.: [2] : DECISION ON PETITION Filed: [3] : UNDER 37 CFR 1.59 For: [4] :

This is a decision on the petition under 37 CFR 1.59(b), filed [5], to expunge information from the above identified application.

The petition is granted.

Petitioner requests that a document entitled [6], filed [7], be expunged from the record. Petitioner states that either (A) that the information contains trade secret material, proprietary material and/or material that is subject to a protective order which has not been made public; or (B) that the information submitted was unintentionally submitted and the failure to obtain its return would cause irreparable harm to the party who submitted the information or to the party in interest on whose behalf the information was submitted, and the information has not otherwise been made public. The petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.17(g) has been paid.

The information in question has been determined by the undersigned to not be material to the examination of the instant application.

Applicant is required to retain the expunged material(s) for the life of any patent which issues on the above-identified application.

The expunged material has been removed from the official file.

Enclosure: [8]

Examiner Note:

1. A Technology Center Director decides this petition only if the information was submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement. Furthermore, a petition to expunge may not be granted unless the application has been allowed or is abandoned, or an Ex Parte Quayle action has been mailed.

2. The petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision if:

(a) the information was not submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement. Information which is part of the original disclosure (specification including any claims, drawings, and any preliminary amendment present on the filing date of the application) cannot be expunged under 37 CFR 1.59. Some papers entered into the application file, e.g., arguments made in an amendment, may be expunged under appropriate circumstance, however, the petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision; or

(b) the petition is also accompanied by a petition under 37 CFR 1.183 requesting waiver of one of the requirements explicitly set forth in 37 CFR 1.59 (e.g., requesting expungement of part of the original disclosure).

3. This decision is printed with the USPTO letterhead.

4. In brackets 6 and 8, clearly identify the expunged document. For example, refer to the author and title of the document.

5. Mail with PTO-90C cover sheet.

¶ 7.206    Petition Under 37 CFR 1.59(b) To Expunge Information Dismissed

In re Application of [1] : Appl. No.: [2] : DECISION ON PETITION Filed: [3] : UNDER 37 CFR 1.59 For: [4] :

This is a decision on the petition under 37 CFR 1.59(b), filed [5], to expunge information from the above identified application.

The petition is dismissed.

Petitioner requests that a document entitled [6], filed [7], be expunged from the record.

"Materiality" is defined as any information which the examiner considers as being important to a determination of patentability of the claims.

The petition is deficient because: [8]

Examiner Note:

1. A Technology Center Director decides this petition only if the information was submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement. However, the petition should not be granted until the application has been allowed or abandoned, or an Ex parte Quayle action has been mailed.

2. The petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision if:

(a) the information was not submitted either pursuant to MPEP § 724.02 or in an information disclosure statement. Information which is part of the original disclosure (specification including any claims, drawings, and any preliminary amendment present on the filing date of the application) cannot be expunged under 37 CFR 1.59. Some papers entered into the application file, e.g., arguments made in an amendment, may be expunged under appropriate circumstance, however, the petition should be sent to the Office of Petitions for decision; or

(b) the petition is also accompanied by a petition under 37 CFR 1.183 requesting waiver of one of the requirements explicitly set forth in 37 CFR 1.59 (e.g., requesting expungement of part of the original disclosure).

3. This decision is printed with the USPTO letterhead.

4. In bracket 6, clearly identify the document which petitioner requests to expunge. For example, refer to the author and title of the document.

5. This form paragraph must be followed with one or more of form paragraphs 7.207 through 7.213.

¶ 7.207    Petition To Expunge, Conclusion, Lacks Fee

the petition was not accompanied by the required fee under 37 CFR1.17(g).

¶ 7.208    Petition to Expunge, Conclusion, Material to Determination of Patentability

the information that petitioner requests to expunge is considered to be material to the determination of patentability because [1].

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, provide an explanation of basis for conclusion that information is material to the determination of patentability.

¶ 7.209    Petition To Expunge, Conclusion, Information Made Public

the information has been made public. [1]

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, provide explanation of basis for conclusion that information has been made public.

¶ 7.210    Petition to Expunge, Conclusion, No Commitment to Retain Information

the petition does not contain a commitment on the part of petitioner to retain the information to be expunged for the period of any patent with regard to which such information is submitted.

¶ 7.211    Petition to Expunge, Conclusion, No Clear Statement That Information is Trade Secret, Proprietary, and/or Subject to Protective Order, or that Submission Was Unintentional

the petition does not contain a clear statement that the information requested to be expunged is either: (1) a trade secret, proprietary, and/or subject to a protective order; or (2) was unintentionally submitted and failure to obtain its return would cause irreparable harm to the party who submitted the information or to the party in interest on whose behalf the information was submitted. [1]

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, indicate whether any such statement was provided and, if so, explain why such statement is not clear.

¶ 7.212    Petition to Expunge, Conclusion, No Clear Identification of Information to be Expunged

the petition does not clearly identify the information requested to be expunged. [1]

Examiner Note:

In bracket 1, explain why the identification of the information requested to be expunged is not clear.

¶ 7.213    Petition to Expunge, Conclusion, No Statement That Petition Is Submitted By, or on Behalf of, Party in Interest Who Originally Submitted the Information

the petition does not contain a statement that the petition is being submitted by, or on behalf of, the party in interest who originally submitted the information.