I have two questions regarding the functioning of the patent application examination process. Hopefully someone can shed some light.
If a patent application has been filed but not yet published, does it show up in the database used by the examiner for his/her search for prior art?
In other words, can a filed but not yet published patent application be included as a reference?
Is it possible that a citation is made to a patent whose priority date is subsequent to the priority date of the patent under examination?
I thought that the priority date is used as a time threshold to look for prior art. Yet, I found examples that contradict this statement. For instance, patent US8056257, whose priority date is 21 November 2006 cites patent US7838425 whose priority date is 16 June 2008.
How can an invention not-yet-made be defined as prior art? Even allowing for a one-year grace period between actual invention and filing of the application, the two dates in this example are time-incoherent. Am I getting the priority story completely wrong?