712.02 Unsigned Response
The examining attorney should treat an unsigned response as an incomplete response, and should either call the applicant to obtain permission to enter an examiner’s amendment from an authorized party (if appropriate), or issue a notice of incomplete response granting the applicant 30 days, or to the end of the six-month response period set forth in the previous Office action, whichever is longer, to perfect the response, pursuant to 37 C.F.R. §2.65(a)(2). See TMEP §718.03(b). To issue a notice of incomplete response, the examining attorney should use the “Examiner’s Non-Responsive Amendment” (or, if appropriate, “SU – Examiner’s Non-Responsive Amendment”) selection for a response to a nonfinal action or the “Examiner’s Action Continuing a Final Refusal – 30-day Letter” (or, if appropriate, “SU – Examiner’s Action Continuing a Final Refusal – 30-day Letter”) selection if the response is to a final action. In either instance, the notice of incomplete response must not include a six-month response clause.
If the applicant is not represented by a qualified practitioner and the response does not require a signed verification (see TMEP §§804–804.05), the applicant or a person with legal authority to bind a juristic applicant (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership) may either request that the amendment(s) be entered through an examiner’s amendment or submit a properly signed copy of the response. If the applicant is represented by a qualified practitioner, that practitioner must submit the response or request entry of an examiner’s amendment. A duplicate of the original response can be submitted through TEAS (using the response to Office action form) or a properly signed copy of the original document can be submitted by fax (unless it is excluded by 37 C.F.R. §2.195(d)). In a TEAS Plus or TEAS RF application, the response must be filed through TEAS or the application will lose TEAS Plus or TEAS RF status (see TMEP §§819.02(b), 820.02(b)). The examining attorney must defer action on the merits of the response until the applicant files a properly signed response.
The substitute response must be personally signed by a qualified practitioner or, if the applicant is not represented by a qualified practitioner, by the individual applicant or someone with legal authority to bind a juristic applicant (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership). 37 C.F.R. §§2.62(b), 2.193(e)(2), and 11.18(a); see TMEP §§611.03(b).
If an applicant fails to submit a properly signed response within the time granted under 37 C.F.R. §2.65(a)(2), the examining attorney must hold the application abandoned for failure to file a complete response. See TMEP §718.03. In this situation, the applicant cannot file a petition to revive under 37 C.F.R. §2.66. The applicant’s recourse is to file a petition to the Director to reverse the examining attorney’s holding of abandonment under 37 C.F.R. §2.146. See TMEP §1713.02.