Filing an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS)
When filing a patent application, you have a legal obligation to disclose all information known to you that is material to the “patentability” of your device, product, idea, etc. These disclosures must be formally conveyed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in accordance with 35 C.F.R. §1.56. You may be asking, “what exactly constitutes material information for my patent application?” Well, the governing standard is that any information that a reasonable patent application examiner would consider important in assessing whether to grant the application is deemed to be material. It is also important to understand that this disclosure duty is ongoing from the moment you file the application all the way to the issuance of the U.S. Patent.
Limitation of Disclosure Requirement
It is worth noting that the disclosure requirement set forth in 35 C.F.R. §1.56 only obligates an applicant to disclose material information that is “actually known” to the applicant and does not require a search to be conducted. This is an important, and necessary, limitation since the USPTO wants to avoid disclosures that are based purely on conjecture or speculation.
Satisfying the Duty to Disclose
The duty of disclosure is satisfied when you submit an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) to the USPTO listing relevant patents, patent applications, and other published documents or information. Depending on the nature of the disclosure, a copy of the document may also need to be provided to the USPTO.
Ramifications Associated with Failing to Disclose Material Information
The ramifications from failing to comply with the duty of disclose can be quite severe. For example, if it is determined that you willfully failed to provide material information to the USPTO, it can result in a later ruling of “unequitable conduct” that ultimately renders your issued patent unenforceable. If that was not bad enough, when there is evidence of willful failure to disclose, it exposes you to being sued for damages in federal court.
If you are applying for a patent or currently own a patent and, at some point, you discover material information that should have been disclosed to the USPTO, you can request a “supplemental examination” which affords the opportunity to consider, reconsider, or correct information believed to be relevant to the patent. The ability to request a supplemental examination is available at any point during the period of enforceability for the patent.
There are various benefits associated with a request for supplemental examination. Once your supplemental examination materials are filed with the USPTO, a review will be undertaken, and you will usually get a response from the federal agency within three months. The response will typically come in the form of a certificate indicating whether the information you provided raises a “substantial new question of patentability.” If that is the case, an ex parte, re-examination of the patent will be required. If not, the request ends there. Another benefit associated with a request for supplemental examination is that a patent cannot be deemed unenforceable based solely on information that was considered, reconsidered, or corrected during a supplemental examination, so you can have a level of confidence during this process that you will not, sua sponte, lose your patent protections.
Contact an Experienced Patent Attorney in Los Angeles Today
As you can see, the process of applying for a patent is complex, time-intensive, and involves an array of different rules and regulations. Hence, it is in your best interest to retain the services of a patent in attorney Los Angeles such as the highly reputable professionals at Omni Legal Group. Omni Legal Group is a premier Patent, Trademark, and Copyright law firm located in Los Angeles. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Omni Legal Group at 855.433.2226 or visit www.OmniLegalGroup.com to learn more.