MPEP 1126: Applications That Publish After the Patent Issues.
An interesting practice note we thought we’d share. Per MPEP 1126:
The publication fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.18(d) must be paid in each application published (or scheduled to be published) under 35 U.S.C. 122(b) before a patent will be granted on the application. . . .
Applicant is required to pay the publication fee to avoid abandonment of the application even if the application has not yet been published at the time when the publication fee is due. The Office will continue with the pre-grant publication process until a patent actually issues. This is because there are many instances in which the Office mails a notice of allowance in an application but the application does not issue as a patent in regular course. Therefore, the Office will not discontinue the pre-grant publication process until a patent has actually issued. Since the Office cannot discontinue the pre-grant publication process during the last two to four weeks of the publication process, this will result in a few applications being issued as patents and subsequently being published as patent application publications. The Office will refund the publication fee (if paid) if the application is not published as a patent application publication, but will not refund the publication fee if the application is published as a patent application publication, even if it is published after the patent issues
Accordingly, applicant may file a request for a refund of the publication fee after 4 weeks from the issue date of the patent if the application did not publish. A request for refund filed before 4 weeks from the issue date is premature and will be disregarded. Requests for a refund of the publication fee should be directed to the Pre-Grant Publication Division of the Office of Publications at Mail Stop PGPUB.