What is an Office Action?
1. What is an administrative office action (or a simple office action)?
Administrative office actions are letters from the USPTO informing you that there is an error, something missing, or insufficient information about your mark or service/product. Some examples as to why you may have gotten an administrative office action is that there may have been a missing signature or disclaimer(s) in your application, the wrong kind of photos were submitted when showing your trademark in use, or there was an incorrect classification of your goods and services. In order to correct this, you must provide more information about your mark/correct the mistakes that the USPTO. For any office action, you have 6 months to respond before your application is considered “abandoned”.
2. What is a substantive office action (or a complex office action)?
Substantive office actions are received when the USPTO determines that your mark was not fit for approval on legal grounds. The USPTO could say that your mark is confusingly similar to an existing mark or your mark is too descriptive among other reasons. In these cases, you need to write a brief refuting the examining attorney's arguments with proper legal grounds. There is no guarantee that you can completely avoid receiving office actions, but you can minimize your likelihood of getting one by doing thorough trademark research before filing an application.