An office action is a written notification of any USPTO decision to applicant(s) about a patent application filed by the applicant. The office action consists of a cover page, a summary and a detailed letter from the US PTO examiner who examined the patent application.
The first page of the office action is the cover page. The cover page comprises the application number of the patent application, the filing date, name of the first inventor, mailing date of the office action, name of the examiner who has examined the patent application and address of the applicant or the attorney. The cover page also indicates an art unit to which the examiner works. The USPTO groups the examiners based on technologies. These groups are termed as technology centers. Each technology center is further divided into art units. The USPTO classification system allocates a specific type of invention to each of the art unit.
The summary page of the office action is the office action summary form PTOL-326. The summary form comprises the time period for reply, status of the office action, disposition of claims, application papers and priority under 35 U.S.C. 119. The usual period set for reply is the shortened statutory period which is about 1 month to 3 months. Extensions of time are available for filing the reply to the office action within the next 3 months after the shortened statutory period. The status of the office action indicates whether the examiner has declared the office action as non final or final. The disposition of claims indicates the current status of the claims of the patent application. The application papers indicate the status of the specification and/or drawings of the patent application.
The detailed description of the office action may comprise objections, claim rejections, election/restrictions if required, response to amendments if applicable and allowable subject matter if allowable. The examiner may object claims/specification/drawings that do not comply with 35 USC 112. The examiner may reject claims that do not comply with 35 USC 101, 102, 103, 132. 1. The objection may be overcome by filing necessary corrections in the response. The rejections may be overcome by providing substance to an argument based on the type of rejection.