When you have successfully applied for a patent at the patent office, your work doesn’t end. There might be a possibility that there is any error left in the application and the patent examiner examines it. He will send you an office letter in that case and you will have to work again and respond to it.
There are various possibilities of office action such as pre-existing inventions similar to your invention, insufficient information provided, or any other issue which leads to the rejection of the patent application.
So, office action is basically an official statement issued by the USPTO to bring in the errors in the claims because of which you cannot get the patent grant.
Types of Office action
There are two types of office actions that the applicant may receive.
Non-Final Office Action
Non-final office action is the official document that is issued for the first time after the applicant has applied for the patent. In this, the examiner reviews the application and revokes the claims that the applicant has asked for. There might be patentability issues for the same, unreasonable claims, or insufficient data.
Final Office Action
Final office action is the office action that is not issued for the first time, it means you have received the letter atleast twice. It would mean that the patent examiner was not satisfied with your response to the first office action and want you to make more amendments. The patent examiner has a lot of work to do, a lot of applications to review, and the final office action is the result of problems again left in the application after non-final office action or new iterations required.
A reply to the office action should be properly written by the applicant in order to make his justification. The applicant can either correct the points that are aroused by the patent examiner, or he can counter the points and can make his statement about why it is correct. But an elaborative and complete reply to the action is essential in order to improve the chances of getting patent approval.
Also read: Patent Drawings: Why do you Need Them?
Deadline for reply
There is a time limit given with each type of office letter and it also creates a difference between the two actions. In most cases, the deadline to reply is 6 months, after that the application will be made invalid and no further process will be taken off. Usually, after a period of 2-3 months, late fees is applicable along with the reply.
You can avoid office action!
Office action can not be completely avoided but its chances can be reduced by being extremely careful at the time of preparing the patent application. You can do a proper search by the professional to make sure that your invention is unique and no prior-art exists for the same. A well-presented patent application with a proper explanation of the invention and clear patent drawings will help. Patent drawings virtually represent how your invention looks like and improve the scope of getting patent approval. A clear patent application properly researches prior-arts and a complete description of the invention can be really helpful to avoid the action from the USPTO.
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