All individuals covered by 37 CFR 1.56 (reproduced in MPEP § 2001.01) have a duty to disclose to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office all material information they are aware of regardless of the source of or how they become aware of the information. See Brasseler, U.S.A. I, L.P. v. Stryker Sales Corp., 267 F.3d 1370, 1383, 60 USPQ2d 1482, 1490 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (“Once an attorney, or an applicant has notice that information exists that appears material and questionable, that person cannot ignore that notice in an effort to avoid his or her duty to disclose.”). Materiality controls whether information must be disclosed to the Office, not the circumstances under which or the source from which the information is obtained. If material, the information must be disclosed to the Office. The duty to disclose material information extends to information such individuals are aware of prior to or at the time of filing the application or become aware of during the prosecution thereof.
Individuals covered by 37 CFR 1.56 may be or become aware of material information from various sources such as, for example, co-workers, trade shows, communications from or with competitors, potential infringers, or other third parties, related foreign applications (see MPEP § 2001.06(a)), prior or copending United States patent applications (see MPEP § 2001.06(b)), related litigation and/or post-grant proceedings (see MPEP § 2001.06(c)) and preliminary examination searches.