37 CFR 1.496 Examination of international applications in the national stage.
National stage applications having paid therein the search fee as set forth in § 1.492(b)(1) and examination fee as set forth in § 1.492(c)(1) may be amended subsequent to the date of commencement of national stage processing only to the extent necessary to eliminate objections as to form or to cancel rejected claims. Such national stage applications will be advanced out of turn for examination.
An international application which enters the national stage will be forwarded to the appropriate Technology Center (TC) for examination in turn based on the date of entry into the national stage. See MPEP § 1893.01(a). This is commonly referred to as the “35 U.S.C. 371(c)” date of the application.
If an international preliminary examination report (IPER) prepared by the United States International Preliminary Examining Authority or a written opinion on the international application prepared by the United States International Searching Authority states that the criteria of novelty, inventive step (non-obviousness), and industrial applicability, as defined in PCT Article 33(1) – (4) have been satisfied for all of the claims presented in the application entering the national stage, the national stage search fee is reduced and the national stage examination fee is reduced. See 37 CFR 1.492(b)(1) and 37 CFR 1.492(c)(1). Such applications may be amended only to the extent necessary to eliminate objections as to form or cancel rejected claims, and they will be advanced out of turn for examination. See MPEP § 708 for a discussion of the order of examination of applications by examiners.
Once the national stage application has been taken up by the examiner, prosecution proceeds in the same manner as for a domestic application with the exceptions that:
- (A) the international filing date (or, if appropriate, the priority date) is the date to keep in mind when searching the prior art; and
- (B) unity of invention proceeds as under 37 CFR 1.475.