Once an applicant has filed a response to the non-final Office Action, the examiner may then either:
(i) Issue a notice of allowance;
(ii) Raise some new objections and issue a second Non-Final Office Action; or
(iii) Maintain at least some of the objections which were raised in the first Office Action in which case the Office Action is likely to be indicated as being a “Final” Office Action. An applicant is relatively restricted in the scope of amendment which they can make when filing a response to a Final Office Action.
If fairly substantial amendments are made in the response to Final Office Action, the examiner may refuse to consider the amendments on the grounds that the amendments raise new issues. In such circumstances an applicant may proceed further with the application by either:
(i) filing a Request for Continued Examination (“RCE”); or
(ii) filing a notice of appeal. RCE provides have at least two further opportunities to amend the claims and/or to present arguments for the examiner’s consideration.