Avoid Public Disclosure

An invention that has been known or used by others or described in a printed publication is unpatentable subject matter and will be rejected during prosecution with a prior art rejection. The U.S. currently has a one year grace period in which the inventor may make disclosures during which the patentee must file a patent application. Many foreign countries do not allow any grace period.

Examples of public disclosures include public use, public sale, a publication, a patent or any combination of these. The disclosure does not have to be the exact invention but anything obviously close will bar the applicant from receiving a patent if it is before the one year time period.

The threat from a public disclosure that occurred before filing does not go away once a patent issues. Any time during the enforcement period of a patent (20 years from the filing date), any person can cite prior art to the United States Patent and Trademark Office that they believe effects the patentability of the invention and may request an ex parte re-examination of the patent. An ex-parte re-examination may result in part or all of the claims being unpatentable and unenforceable.


Note: The danger of Public Disclosure is changing with the America Invents Act. See the text of the House Bill HR 1249 and the Section Summary from the USPTO.


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Sample Patent, Trademark & Copyright Inventory Forms

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37 CFR § 1.53 Application number, filing date, and completion of application

Using Slogans (Taglines), Model Numbers as Trademarks

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Difference between Provisional and Nonprovisional Patent Application

Opposition Pleadings    UDRP Elements    Loss of Trademark Rights

How To Answer A Trademark Cease and Desist Letter

Shop Rights  What is a Small or Micro Entity?

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Converting Provisional to Nonprovisional Patent Application (or claiming benefit of)

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How To Show Acquired Distinctiveness Under 2(f)

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Trademark Attorney for Overcoming Office Actions

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