What is a bypass application?
A PCT application that designates the US has the effect of a pending US application from the international application filing date [see 35 USC 363]. Therefore, it is possible to file a PCT bypass application, which is basically a continuing application (e.g., continuation, divisional, CIP) based on such a pending US application [see MPEP 1895]. “Bypass” in the name of this application has the connotation of bypassing the conventional national stage application filed under 35 USC 371.
Can new matter be added to a US application based on a PCT application?
Yes, an applicant may file a US continuation-in-part (CIP) application based on an international PCT application that designates the United States [see 35 USC 365(c) and 35 USC 120]. This CIP is also known as a bypass CIP which is distinguishable from a bypass continuation that does not add new matter. As always, new matter added in the CIP will obtain the later priority date of the CIP filing date.
What is the deadline for filing a bypass application?
Since the continuing application must be copending with the prior international application, the continuing application must be filed before the expiration of 30 months from the priority date of the international application.
Timing of PCT Publication as Prior Art
Under the 1-year grace period for an inventor’s own prior disclosure [35 USC 102(b)(1)(A)], a CIP should be filed within 12 months of the PCT publication date. Otherwise, the applicant’s own PCT publication may serve as prior art under 35 USC 102(a)(1).
This 1-year deadline is only critical for a CIP, and not for a continuation which finds full support in the PCT application and thus has an earlier priority date going back to at least as early as the international filing date, if not earlier.
Required Documents for Bypass Applications
If the bypass continuing application claims priority to a foreign priority document, a certified copy of the foreign priority application will need to be submitted unless the foreign country is part of the PDX exchange program.
An IDS must also be filed in a bypass application.
What are differences between a US national stage application and a bypass application?
MPEP 1896 sets forth differences between these two types of US applications, including filing date, priority requirements and unity of invention (stricter standard – national stage) versus US restriction practice (looser standard – bypass application).