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14. What is an office action?

Once the application is submitted to the PTO it will be initially examined by a PTO Examiner. This process usually takes between 12 and 36 months for a utility patent application, less for a design application. At that time the Examiner will issue a first office action which cites the findings of the examination. It is not uncommon for the Examiner to initially reject all of the claims of the application. If the applicant and Patent Attorney or Patent Agent disagree with the rejection, it then becomes the job of the patent attorney or agent to argue against the rejections, and if required, modify (amend) the application to hopefully result in the allowance of a patent. Sometimes the amendment results in a second office action which must also be responded to by the attorney or agent. The PTO requires that office actions be responded to within three months or late charges will apply.




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