Law - Response/Amendment Before Final

Prosecution of a patent application involves responding to Office actions by the Examiner. In general, the applicant has a single opportunity to amend the specification, drawings and/or claims of an application and be assured that the Examiner will "enter" and consider the amendment. That opportunity follows the mailing of the first Office action on the merits of the application, which action is generally termed a "non-final action." The applicant must respond to a non-final Office action within a specified time. If the Office action contains one or more defects, the applicant is given one month after the mailing date of the Office action within which to point out the defect(s) to the Examinier and request that the period for response be reset. Submitting such a request does not automatically mean that a complete response does not have to be filed. The response or amendment must generally be filed no later than 3 months after the mailing date of the non-final action, unless a different period for response is stipulated in the Office action. The period of response may be extended by up to 5 months by payment of extension fees, however, in no event can the response or amendment be filed later than 6 months after the mailing date of the non-final Office action.

The position of the USPTO on this issue is described in the following section(s) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP):

MPEP 710 - Period for Response
MPEP 710.06 - Situations When Response Period Is Reset or Restarted

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