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Applying for a patent in the United States involves completing a lengthy set of steps. Once you choose a specific patent type and submit the proper forms, your application may still require additional scrutiny. One of the final steps in the patent process is for the application to undergo examination by an appointed patent application examiner.

This is one of the most crucial aspects of the patent application process. If the examiner identifies some part of the application that he or she believes is either incomplete or otherwise problematic, you must address these issues appropriately before the application will be ultimately approved.

You should be mindful to communicate with the examiner clearly, and to understand and abide by the various timelines that the application demands. If you do not respond to an examiner’s concerns in the appropriate time, the patent process may stall out permanently.

Your application may be rejected twice and resubmitted. If your application is rejected after the second resubmission, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB),

It is usually easiest to navigate these matters with the assistance of an experienced patent law attorney. With proper guidance, you can ensure that you fully understand the process. Your attorney also serves as a buffer between you and the examiner. In most cases, once an attorney represents you in the application, the Patent Office and the PTAB generally only communicate directly with the attorney, giving you time to focus on more pressing issues and protecting you from jeopardizing your patent’s approval.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, “Patent process overview,” accessed Nov. 17, 2017