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The Patent Process

The general patent process has several parts.  The process begins with the filing of an application. This can be a provisional or nonprovisional application. Only nonprovisional applications are reviewed by the Patent and Trademark Office. The nonprovisional application is then referred to an examiner. During this period, the applicant may file other documents or amendments to the application prior to the issuance of the first office action. Generally, the first office action rejects most of the claims in application for obviousness or lack of novelty. The examiner is required to state reasons for each rejection and highlight any prior art references that disqualify the application for a patent. The burden for showing that an application does not qualify for a patent rests with the patent examiner. The applicant may contest the rejection or acquiesce.  Acquiescence ends patent prosecution.  If the applicant contests, the applicant may amend the application or if the applicant does not believe continued prosecution will be success the applicant may file an appeal with the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.  Upon final rejection of a patent application, the applicant’s only options are to file a continuation, which is essentially a new version of the patent application and resets the examination process, or appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.  Upon successful prosecution, the applicant is issued a patent for the invention

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