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To what extent may you respond to an office action? Can you add new matter? Can you re-write your patent completely if it is still in the same field of the original invention? Can you change the definition of your invention?

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To what extent may you respond to an office action?

You can traverse the Examiner's rejections, meaning arguing around them. Or you can amend the claims, usually to narrow the claimed invention and exclude what may be considered obvious from the prior art. Amendments to the claims must be supported by the original filing.

Can you add new matter?

No, you cannot add any new matter after the filing date. That is the strictest rule of the U.S. patent office. You must file a continuation-in-part or a new patent application to do so. However, changes to the specification are not always new matter. Some changes may be supported by the original filing. Such changes are usually limited to small informalities (e.g., spelling errors) that the Examiner has raised objections for. Note that if the original filing is ambiguous, it is generally not possible to later argue that a clarification is supported by the ambiguous filing.

Can you re-write your patent completely if it is still in the same field of the original invention? Can you change the definition of your invention?

No, both of these sound like they would be examples of adding new matter.

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  • If matter is ambiguous in nature but data is slightly limited applicant and inventor can file inventor declaration in form of an affidavit to support the result, but yes they cannot go beyond what already written. – Pushpak May 27 '15 at 4:56

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