[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2131–MPEP § 2138 for examination of applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]
AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A) provides that a grace period disclosure shall not be prior art to a claimed invention under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) if the disclosure was made by the inventor or a joint inventor. An applicant may show that a disclosure was made by the inventor or a joint inventor by way of an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.130(a) (an affidavit or declaration of attribution). See In re Katz, 687 F.2d 450, 455, 215 USPQ 14, 18 (CCPA 1982) and MPEP § 718. Where the authorship of the prior art disclosure includes the inventor or a joint inventor named in the application, an “unequivocal” statement from the inventor or a joint inventor that the inventor or joint inventor (or some specific combination of named inventors) invented the subject matter of the disclosure, accompanied by a reasonable explanation of the presence of additional authors, may be acceptable in the absence of evidence to the contrary. See In re DeBaun, 687 F.2d 459, 463, 214 USPQ 933, 936 (CCPA 1982). However, an affidavit or declaration under 37 CFR 1.132 that is only a naked assertion of inventorship and that fails to provide any context, explanation or evidence to support that assertion is insufficient to show that the relied-upon subject matter was the inventor’s own work. See EmeraChem Holdings, LLC v. Volkswagen Grp. of Am., Inc., 859 F.3d 1341, 123 USPQ2d 1146 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (finding that a declaration submitted by inventor Campbell insufficient to establish that he and Guth (now deceased) were inventors of the subject matter disclosed in a patent naming Campbell, Guth, Danziger, and Padron because “[n]othing in the declaration itself, or in addition to the declaration, provides any context, explanation, or evidence to lend credence to the inventor’s bare assertion” and more than twenty years had passed since the alleged events occurred. Id. at 1345; 123 USPQ2d at 1149.). See also Ex parte Kroger, 219 USPQ 370 (Bd. App. 1982) (affirming rejection notwithstanding declarations by the alleged actual inventors as to their inventorship in view of a nonapplicant author submitting a letter declaring the nonapplicant author’s inventorship). This is similar to the current process for disqualifying a publication as not being by “others” discussed in MPEP § 2132.01, except that AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1)(A) requires only that the disclosure be by the inventor or a joint inventor.