724.04 Office Treatment and Handling of Materials Submitted Under MPEP § 724.02 [R-07.2015]
The exact methods of treating and handling materials submitted under MPEP § 724.02 will differ slightly depending upon whether the materials are submitted in an original application subject to the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 122 or whether the submission is made in a reissue application or reexamination file open to the public under 37 CFR 1.11(b) or (d). Prior to publication, an original application is not open to the public under 35 U.S.C. 122(a). After the application has been published under 35 U.S.C. 122(b)(1), copies of the file wrapper of the pending application are available to any member of the public who has filed a request under 37 CFR 1.14(a)(1)(ii) or (a)(1)(iii). See MPEP § 103.
If the application file and contents are available to the public pursuant to 37 CFR 1.11 or 1.14, any materials submitted under MPEP § 724.02 will only be released to the public with any other application papers if no petition to expunge (37 CFR 1.59) was filed prior to the mailing of a notice of allowability or notice of abandonment, or if a petition to expunge was filed and the petition was denied. Prior to the mailing of the notice of allowability or notice of abandonment, the examiner will review the patent application file and determine if a petition to expunge is in the application file but not acted upon. If the application is being allowed, if the materials submitted under MPEP § 724.02 are found not to be material to patentability, the petition to expunge will be granted and the materials will be expunged. If the materials are found to be material to patentability, the petition to expunge will be denied and the materials will become part of the application record and will be available to the public upon issuance of the application as a patent. With the mailing of the notice of abandonment, if a petition to expunge has been filed, irrespective of whether the materials are found to be material to patentability, the petition to expunge will be granted and the materials expunged.
Upon receipt of the submission, the transmittal letter and the envelope or container will be date stamped and brought to the attention of the examiner or other Office employee responsible for evaluating the submission. The receipt of the transmittal letter and envelope or container will be noted on the “Contents” of the application or reexamination file. In addition, the face of the application or reexamination file will have the notation placed thereon to indicate that trade secret, proprietary, or protective order material has been filed. The location of the material will also be specified. The words “TRADE SECRET MATERIALS FILED WHICH ARE NOT OPEN TO PUBLIC” on the face of the file are sufficient to indicate the presence of trade secret material. Similar notations will be made for either proprietary or protective order materials.