Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 365(c), a regular national application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) and 37 CFR 1.53(b) may claim the benefit of the filing date of an international application which designates the United States without completing the requirements for entering the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371. See MPEP §§ 1895 and 1895.01. Thus, rather than submitting a national stage application under 35 U.S.C. 371, applicant may file a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part of an international (PCT) application under 35 U.S.C. 111(a). Such applications are often referred to as “bypass” applications. To claim the benefit of the filing date of an international application, the international application must designate the United States and be entitled to a filing date in accordance with PCT Article 11, and the later-filed application must be filed during the pendency (e.g., prior to the abandonment) of the international application.
The ability to take such action is based on provisions of the United States patent law. 35 U.S.C. 363 provides that “[a]n international application designating the United States shall have the effect, from its international filing date under article 11 of the treaty, of a national application for patent regularly filed in the Patent and Trademark Office.” 35 U.S.C. 371(d) indicates that failure to timely comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 371(c) “shall be regarded as abandonment of the application by the parties thereof.” It is therefore clear that an international application which designates the United States has the effect of a pending U.S. application from the international application filing date until its abandonment as to the United States. The first sentence of 35 U.S.C. 365(c) specifically provides that “[i]n accordance with the conditions and requirements of section 120,… a national application shall be entitled to the benefit of the filing date of a prior international application designating the United States.” The condition of 35 U.S.C. 120 relating to the time of filing requires the later application to be “filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application….”