On September 16, 2012, the USPTO will implement the Third Party Pre-Issuance Submissions provisions of the America Invents Act. Under these provisions, third parties may submit patents, published applications, or other printed publications that may be of relevance to pending patent applications. A timely third party submission must be filed before the earlier of (a) the mailing of the Notice of Allowance, (b) six months after first publication of the application, or (c) the mailing date of the first office action where a claim is rejected, whichever is earlier. The submission must include a certain information, such as a concise description of the relevance of each item listed. Third party submissions will not be avilable for post-issuance proceedings. There will be a fee for submitting documents.

For more information, visit the “AIA Implementation page(USPTO AIA Implementation)”:http://www.uspto.gov/aia_implementation/index.jsp of the USPTO

Author’s Note: as a third party, submitting publications under these provisions may be useful for influencing the prosecution of a competitor’s patent application. However, it is unclear how the third party’s comments in the submission may affect any future litigation between the parties.