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第三者による米国の情報提供制度に関するFinal Rule

特許業務法人HARAKENZO WORLD PATENT & TRADEMARK
2012年07月23日
(文責:新 井)

1. はじめに

第三者による情報提供制度(Preissuance Submissions By Third Parties)が America Invents Act (AIA) において成文化され、本情報提供の期間については、以下のように規定されました。

(A)許可通知の発送日、

(B) 出願公開日から6ヶ月、又は第132条に基づく1stOA発行日のいずれか遅い方であって、(A) (B)のいずれか早い日より前まで。


また、提供情報は、特許・刊行物に限られ、情報提供者は、利害関係者の明示が不要であり、例えば法律事務所や弁護士の名義でも情報提供が可能です。更に、特許出願と提供情報との関連性に関する簡潔な説明書等の提出が必要とされていました。


このたび、USPTOは、2012年7月17日に、官報において、第三者による情報提供制度の実施規則に対する変更(Final Rule)を公表しました。*1



2. Final Rule の留意点

本 Final Rule によれば、情報提供の対象は、2012年9月16日前またはその日以降にファイルされた全ての出願(non-provisional utility, design, and plant application, any continuing applicationを含む。)*2 であり、本 Final Rule の施行日は2012年9月16日です。


第三者は、paper filing 又は employ a new interface of the EFS-web system により情報提供を行うことが可能ですが、paper filingの場合には、以下の書類をタイムリーに提出しなければなりません。


  • (1) A list identifying the items being submitted;
  • (2) a concise description of the relevance of each item listed;
  • (3) a legible copy of each non-U.S. patent document listed;
  • (4) an English language translation of any non-English language item listed;
  • (5) a statement by the party making the submission that the submission complies with the statute and the rule; and
  • (6) the required fee.

なお、USPTOは、従前の第三者による情報提供を廃止すると共に、public use proceedingsを廃止します。



3. 官報の抜粋

SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is revising the rules of patent practice to implement the preissuance submissions by third parties provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). This provision provides a mechanism for third parties to contribute to the quality of issued patents by submitting to the Office, for consideration and inclusion in the record of a patent application, any patents, published patent applications, or other printed publications of potential relevance to the examination of the application. A preissuance submission may be made in any non-provisional utility, design, and plant application, as well as in any continuing application. A third-party preissuance submission must include a concise description of the asserted relevance of each document submitted, and must be submitted within a certain statutorily specified time period. The third party must submit a fee as prescribed by the Director, and a statement that the submission complies with the statutory provision. The Office has also revised the rules of patent practice to make related aspects of the existing protest rule more consistent with the new rule implementing the preissuance submissions by third parties provision. Further, the Office is eliminating the provision providing for public use proceedings.


Effective Date: The changes in this final rule take effect on September 16, 2012.
Applicability Date: The changes in this final rule apply to any application filed before, on, or after September 16, 2012.


Summary of Major Provisions: This final rule specifies the requirements for third parties to file a preissuance submission of patents, published patent applications, or other printed publications of potential relevance to the examination of an application.


The Office is also revising the rules of practice to eliminate the former practice for making third-party submissions in published patent applications and to eliminate the practice regarding public use proceedings.


Background: The AIA was enacted into law on September 16, 2011. This final rule changes the rules of practice to implement section 8 of the AIA, which provides a mechanism for third parties to submit to the Office, for consideration and inclusion in the record of a patent application, any patents, published patent applications, or other printed publications of potential relevance to the examination of the application. Section 8 of the AIA amends 35 U.S.C. 122 by adding 35 U.S.C. 122(e), which enumerates certain conditions that apply to a third-party preissuance submission to the Office in a patent application.


Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 122(e), preissuance submissions of patents, published patent applications, or other printed publications must be made in patent applications before the earlier of: (a) The date a notice of allowance under 35 U.S.C. 151 is given or mailed in the application; or (b) the later of (i) six months after the date on which the application is first published under 35 U.S.C. 122 by the Office, or (ii) the date of the first rejection under 35 U.S.C. 132 of any claim by the examiner during the examination of the application.


35 U.S.C. 122(e) also requires a concise description of the asserted relevance of each document submitted, a fee as prescribed by the Director, and a statement by the person making the third-party preissuance submission that the submission was made in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 122(e).


This final rule implements 35 U.S.C. 122(e) in a new rule, 37 CFR 1.290, and revises the rules of practice in title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) concerning other related third-party practices. This final rule eliminates 37 CFR 1.99, which provided for third party submissions of patents, published patent applications, or printed publications in published patent applications, but did not permit an accompanying concise description of the relevance of each submitted document and limited the time period for such submissions to up to two months after the date of the patent application publication or the mailing of a notice of allowance, whichever is earlier.


By contrast, new 35 U.S.C. 122(e) and 37 CFR 1.290 permit third parties to submit the same types of documents, but with an accompanying concise description of relevance of each document submitted, and provide third parties with the same or more time to file preissuance submissions with the Office when compared with former 37 CFR 1.99. Third-party submissions under 37 CFR 1.290 provide an enhanced opportunity for third parties to identify and describe potentially relevant publications to the Office.


This final rule also eliminates the public use proceeding provisions of 37 CFR 1.292. Because section 6 of the AIA makes available a post-grant review proceeding in which prior public use may be raised, the pre-grant public use proceeding previously set forth in 37 CFR 1.292 is no longer necessary.


Additionally, information on prior public use may continue to be submitted by third parties via a protest in a pending application when the requirements of 37 CFR 1.291 have been met, and utilization of 37 CFR 1.291 will promote Office efficiency with respect to treatment of these issues. Such requests for a public use proceeding under 37 CFR 1.292 were very rare, and the few public use proceedings conducted each year were a source of considerable delay in the involved applications and seldom led to the rejection of claims on the basis of public use.


In the notice of proposed rulemaking, the Office proposed to permit third party submissions directed to reissue applications. See Changes to Implement the Preissuance Submissions by Third Parties Provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 77 FR 448, 449 and 451 (Jan. 5, 2012). After reviewing the public comments received and revisiting this proposal, the Office has decided not to adopt its previously proposed position. Instead, the Office will continue to maintain its position that a reissue application is a postissuance proceeding, as set forth in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) § 1441.01 (8th ed. 2001) (Rev. 8, July 2010) (‘‘a reissue application is a post-issuance proceeding’’).


Accordingly, a preissuance submission under 35 U.S.C. 122(e) is not permitted to be filed in a reissue application since 35 U.S.C. 122(e) is limited to preissuance submissions by third parties in patent applications. Third parties who have a need to submit information in a reissue application are advised to avail themselves of the protest provisions of 37 CFR 1.291. See MPEP § 1441.01 (providing that ‘‘the prohibition against the filing of a protest after publication of an application under 35 U.S.C. 122(c) is not applicable to a reissue application’’).


Third-party submissions also are not permitted in reexamination proceedings because reexamination proceedings are post-issuance proceedings. See 35 U.S.C. 302 and 35 U.S.C. 311.


Implementation: A third-party submission under 37 CFR 1.290 may be made in any non-provisional utility, design, or plant application, as well as in any continuing application. These submissions may not be made in reissue applications or reexamination proceedings.
The Office has developed a dedicated Web-based interface to permit thirdparty submissions under new 37 CFR 1.290 to be filed electronically. Third parties can access the preissuance submissions Web-based interface by selecting the preissuance submissions filing option in the Office’s electronic filing system—Web (EFS-Web).


Additionally, third-party submissions may be filed in paper via first-class mail, United States Postal Service (USPS) Express Mail service pursuant to 37 CFR 1.10, or delivery by hand. Facsimile transmission of third-party submissions is not permitted. See 37 CFR 1.6(d)(3).




以 上



*1 LINK: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-07-17/pdf/2012-16710.pdf
*2 今回のFinal Rule において、Reissue Application及びPatent Reexaminationについては情報提供の対象から除外されました。Protest provisions (37 C.F.R. § 1.291) will provide a similar mechanism for patent reissue.

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