Do US Patent App's Go Public...?

Maybe there’s someone out there who can explain this link to the US Patent Rules which implies that US patent applications are printed after a period of 18 months? I seem to recall the European and/or Japanese patent offices originated this practice. Here’s a link to the MPEP, the US Patent Examiner’s bible:

Am I understanding correctly, and if so, can a published patent application now be cited as a reference in a rejection? - Jinx :confused:

Getting past the initial shock of the opening lines of the Patent Rule, I read on to learn that this seems to be directed at patent applications which are also filed abroad…where it is common to publish applications after 18 months. :cool:

Hmm…can I hear me now? :smiley:

  • Jinx

No, incorrect! (I’m arguing with myself here.) Re-reading this rule, it is saying patent applications get published after 18 months UNLESS a written request not to publish is submitted. You are also swearing that you will not file this same application in a foreign country or under multilateral international agreement (PCT).

Maybe some attorney or recent applicant may come along to clarify further…

  • Jinx

Yup, that’s how it works now. It’s been that way for a few years. This was part of “patent harmonization”, in which the U.S. patent system became more like patent systems of the rest of the world (the move from a patent term of seventeen years from issue to a term of twenty years from filing was another part of this). A small advantage to the applicant is that if the patent eventually issues the owner of the patent rights may be able to collect retroactive royalties from infringers who knew of its publication.