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What types of official USPTO letters are there?

The government would not be government without paperwork. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is no exception. When an inventor initiates registering for a patent, the bureaucratic wheels begin turning. What follows can become complicated and time consuming. Specific actions are required at different points, often with deadlines attached, and failure to meet the conditions can be costly. An experienced attorney can help keep things on track.

Types of letters in the USPTO quiver

Over the course of the patenting process, examiners can employ several types of official letters. These include:

  • Office Action: This letter lets an applicant know about issues with the application. If the application has been rejected, the letter should say why. Alternatively, the letter might indicate gaps in the application and list what needs to be done to correct the situation. Most of the time, you have six months from the date of issuance to respond. If you miss the deadline, the application is abandoned, there's no registration and you forfeit the application fee.
  • Examiner's Amendment: This is a follow-up letter in cases where an applicant or his or her duly authorized agent amends an application by phone or email. An examiner will send an amendment letter to confirm the details. Response isn't needed unless there's disagreement about the change.
  • Priority Action: This is like an Office Action but carries a bit more weight. It is sent after an examiner consults directly with an applicant about problems with the application. Like the Office Action letter, it might explain a registration denial or list steps to take to correct issues. You must respond to Priority Action letters within six months of issuance.
  • Suspension Letter: Examiners may suspend action on an application for a host of reasons. No applicant response is required, though you can track the issue and seek to have the suspension lifted if documented issues are resolved.
  • Suspension Inquiry Letter: USPTO will send this after the initial Suspension Letter (usually at the six-month mark) as part of a standard review to see where things stand. Here again, response from the applicant is required within six months.

What's clear from this is that protection of patent rights is something that requires attention to detail on the part of the inventor and his or her legal representative.

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