MPEP 714.03
Amendments Not Fully Responsive, Action To Be Taken

This is the Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 08.2017, Last Revised in January 2018

Previous: §714.02 | Next: §714.03(a)

714.03    Amendments Not Fully Responsive, Action To Be Taken [R-07.2015]

37 C.F.R. 1.135 Abandonment for failure to reply within time period.

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  • (c) When reply by the applicant is a bona fide attempt to advance the application to final action, and is substantially a complete reply to the non-final Office action, but consideration of some matter or compliance with some requirement has been inadvertently omitted, applicant may be given a new time period for reply under § 1.134  to supply the omission.

An examiner may treat an amendment not fully responsive to a non-final Office action by:

  • (A) accepting the amendment as an adequate reply to the non-final Office action to avoid abandonment under 35 U.S.C. 133 and 37 CFR 1.135;
  • (B) notifying the applicant that the reply must be completed within the remaining period for reply to the non-final Office action (or within any extension pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) ) to avoid abandonment; or
  • (C) setting a new time period for applicant to complete the reply pursuant to 37 CFR 1.135(c).

The treatment to be given to the amendment depends upon:

  • (A) whether the amendment is bona fide;
  • (B) whether there is sufficient time for applicant’s reply to be filed within the time period for reply to the non-final Office action; and
  • (C) the nature of the deficiency.

Where an amendment substantially responds to the rejections, objections, or requirements in a non-final Office action (and is a bona fide attempt to advance the application to final action) but contains a minor deficiency (e.g., fails to treat every rejection, objection, or requirement), the examiner may simply act on the amendment and issue a new (non-final or final) Office action. The new Office action may simply reiterate the rejection, objection, or requirement not addressed by the amendment (or otherwise indicate that such rejection, objection, or requirement is no longer applicable). This course of action would not be appropriate in instances in which an amendment contains a serious deficiency (e.g., the amendment is unsigned or does not appear to have been filed in reply to the non-final Office action). Where the amendment is bona fide but contains a serious omission, the examiner should: A) if there is sufficient time remaining for applicant’s reply to be filed within the time period for reply to the non-final Office action (or within any extension pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) ), notify applicant that the omission must be supplied within the time period for reply; or B) if there is insufficient time remaining, issue an Office action setting a 2-month time period to complete the reply pursuant to 37 CFR 1.135(c). In either event, the examiner should not further examine the application on its merits unless and until the omission is timely supplied.

If a new time period for reply is set pursuant to 37 CFR 1.135(c), applicant must supply the omission within this new time period for reply (or any extensions under 37 CFR 1.136(a) thereof) in order to avoid abandonment of the application. The applicant, however, may file a continuing application during this period (in addition or as an alternative to supplying the omission), and may also file any further reply as permitted under 37 CFR 1.111.

Where there is sufficient time remaining in the period for reply (including extensions under 37 CFR 1.136(a) ), the applicant may simply be notified that the omission must be supplied within the remaining time period for reply. This notification should be made, if possible, by telephone, and, when such notification is made by telephone, an interview summary record (see MPEP § 713.04) must be completed and entered into the file of the application to provide a record of such notification. When notification by telephone is not possible, the applicant must be notified in an Office communication that the omission must be supplied within the remaining time period for reply. For example, when an amendment is filed shortly after an Office action has been mailed, and it is apparent that the amendment was not filed in reply to such Office action, the examiner need only notify the applicant (preferably by telephone) that a reply responsive to the Office action must be supplied within the remaining time period for reply to such Office action.

The practice set forth in 37 CFR 1.135(c) does not apply where there has been a deliberate omission of some necessary part of a complete reply; rather, 37 CFR 1.135(c) is applicable only when the missing matter or lack of compliance is considered by the examiner as being "inadvertently omitted." For example, if an election of species has been required and applicant does not make an election because he or she believes the requirement to be improper, the amendment on its face is not a "bona fide attempt to advance the application to final action" (37 CFR 1.135(c) ), and the examiner is without authority to postpone decision as to abandonment. Similarly, an amendment that would cancel all of the claims in an application and does not present any new or substitute claims is not a bona fide attempt to advance the application to final action. The Office will not enter such an amendment. See Exxon Corp. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 265 F.3d 1249, 60 USPQ2d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2001). If there is time remaining to reply to the non-final Office action (or within any extension of time pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) ), applicant will be notified to complete the reply within the remaining time period to avoid abandonment. Likewise, once an inadvertent omission is brought to the attention of the applicant, the question of inadvertence no longer exists. Therefore, a second Office action giving another new (2-month) time period to supply the omission would not be appropriate under 37 CFR 1.135(c).

37 CFR 1.135(c) authorizes, but does not require, an examiner to give the applicant a new time period to supply an omission. Thus, where the examiner concludes that the applicant is attempting to abuse the practice under 37 CFR 1.135(c) to obtain additional time for filing a reply (or where there is sufficient time for applicant’s reply to be filed within the time period for reply to the non-final Office action), the examiner need only indicate by telephone or in an Office communication (as discussed above) that the reply must be completed within the period for reply to the non-final Office action or within any extension pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a) to avoid abandonment.

The practice under 37 CFR 1.135(c) of giving applicant a time period to supply an omission in a bona fide reply does not apply after a final Office action. Amendments after final are approved for entry only if they place the application in condition for allowance or in better form for appeal. Otherwise, they are not approved for entry. See MPEP § 714.12 and § 714.13. Thus, an amendment should be denied entry if some point necessary for a complete reply under 37 CFR 1.113 (after final) was omitted, even if the omission was through an apparent oversight or inadvertence. Where a submission after a final Office action (e.g., an amendment under 37 CFR 1.116 ) does not place the application in condition for allowance, the period for reply under 37 CFR 1.113 continues to run until a reply under 37 CFR 1.113 (i.e., a notice of appeal or an amendment that places the application in condition for allowance) is filed. The nature of the omission (e.g., whether the amendment raises new issues, or would place the application in condition for allowance but for it being unsigned or not in compliance with 37 CFR 1.121 ) is immaterial. The examiner cannot give the applicant a time period under 37 CFR 1.135(c) to supply the omission; however, applicant may obtain additional time under 37 CFR 1.136(a) to file another or supplemental amendment in order to supply the omission.

When a reply to a final Office action substantially places the application in condition for allowance, an examiner may request that the applicant (or representative) authorize an examiner’s amendment to correct the omission and place the application in condition for allowance, in which case the date of the reply is the date of such authorization (and not the date the incomplete reply was filed). An examiner also has the authority to enter the reply, withdraw the finality of the last Office action, and issue a new Office action, which may be a non-final Office action, a final Office action (if appropriate), or an action closing prosecution on the merits in an otherwise allowable application under Ex parte Quayle, 25 USPQ 74, 1935 C.D. 11, 435 OG 213 (Comm’r Pat. 1935) (if appropriate). These courses of action, however, are solely within the discretion of the examiner. It is the applicant’s responsibility to take the necessary action in an application under a final Office action to provide a complete reply under 37 CFR 1.113.

Where there is an informality as to the fee in connection with an amendment to a non-final Office action presenting additional claims, the applicant is notified by the technical support staff. See MPEP §§ 607 and 714.10.

Form paragraph 7.95, and optionally form paragraph 7.95.01, should be used where a bona fide reply to a non-final Office action is not fully responsive.

¶ 7.95    Bona Fide, Non-Responsive Amendments

The reply filed on [1] is not fully responsive to the prior Office action because of the following omission(s) or matter(s): [2]. See 37 CFR 1.111. Since the above-mentioned reply appears to be bona fide, applicant is given a TIME PERIOD of TWO (2) MONTHS from the mailing date of this notice within which to supply the omission or correction in order to avoid abandonment. EXTENSIONS OF THIS TIME PERIOD MAY BE GRANTED UNDER 37 CFR 1.136(a).

Examiner Note:

This practice does not apply where there has been a deliberate omission of some necessary part of a complete reply, or where the application is subject to a final Office action. Under such cases, the examiner has no authority to grant an extension if the period for reply has expired. See form paragraph 7.91.

¶ 7.95.01    Lack of Arguments in Response

Applicant should submit an argument under the heading "Remarks" pointing out disagreements with the examiner’s contentions. Applicant must also discuss the references applied against the claims, explaining how the claims avoid the references or distinguish from them.

Examiner Note:

1. This form paragraph must be preceded by form paragraph 7.95.

2. This form paragraph is intended primarily for use in pro se applications.