Access to Relevant Prior Art Initiative

October 25, 2018

The USPTO announced today a new program called the Access to Relevant Prior Art Initiative.  According to the USPTO, “this initiative is envisioned to potentially reduce the burden on applicants with complying with the duty of disclosure.”  Under this program, the USPTO will use “electronic resources to provide examiners with information (e.g. prior art, search reports, etc,) from applicant’s other applications as early as possible to increase patent examination quality and efficiency. These other applications could have the same or substantially the same disclosure (e.g., domestic parent and counterpart foreign applications) as the U.S. application being examined.”  Phase 1 of the program, limited to certain art units and to references from immediate U.S. parent applications, will start November 1, 2018 .  For applications that fall under the new initiative, applicants will receive a “Notice of Imported Citations” reporting the application’s inclusion in the Initiative and listing the citations from the immediate parent application that have been imported into the application.  We will monitor the implementation of this new procedure and provide more feedback as the USPTO reveals more information.  But initially, we note that this initiative is a step in the right direction to reduce the burden and cost of U.S. patent applicants.