Beginning on December 3, 2022, trademark applicants will have three months (with a possible three-month extension), instead of the current six months, to respond to office actions issued during the examination of a trademark application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This change only applies to office actions issued on or after December 3.
By shortening the response time, the USPTO intends to:
- Decrease the time it takes to get a registration
- Provide the flexibility to request additional time to respond to more complex office actions
This new response period will not apply to post-registration office actions on December 3, 2022. Changes to the post-registration response period will be implemented on October 7, 2023.
Read the Federal Register Notice to learn more about these changes.
My Trademark Was Rejected: What Do I Do?
After filing a trademark application, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may decide to halt the progress of your application and document the reasons for doing so in an official letter known as an Office Action. Critically, Office Actions are not necessarily final rejections and if the legal issues, whether procedural or substantive, are addressed in your response to the Office Action, your trademark application will proceed. Obviously, having a trademark lawyer with a deep understanding of trademark law and experience in filing office actions is essential. As trademark law is complex, there are a variety of prospective reasons Trademark applications may be rejected. Procedural reasons usually involve relatively minor issues (the name of the applicant is incorrect, bits of necessary information are missing or in conflict etc.) while substantive reasons are often more challenging to overcome and require legal arguments to overcome to the trademark examiners objections.
How To Respond To A Trademark Office Action: First Analyze Your Original Trademark Application for Defects
A trademark may be a word, slogan, logo, sound, motion – any symbol which when attached to a good or service, distinguishes the good/service from competitors and enables consumers to immediately recognize the source of the good/service sold. In order to file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the applicant must provide various pieces of information within the application including;
- The contact information of the applicant
- The legal status of the applicant (a person or business entity)
- The nature of the trademark (is it a word, design, slogan, or sound/motion trademark)
- The description of the Trademark
- The class of goods/services to which the Trademark will be assigned
- A description of the goods/services
- A specimen showing use of the goods/services in commerce
- A statement of first use of the trademark, both generally, and in commerce
- An indication that the Application is an Intent-to-Use if the mark has not yet been used in commerce
After the entire trademark application has been filled out, the applicant submits it along with the required fee (typically $250 or $350 per class of goods) and waits anywhere from 3-5 months to hear back from the USPTO with either a confirmation that the trademark is acceptable or with a Trademark Office Action, detailing why the trademark is unacceptable and the corrective measures that must be taken to amend the trademark application. The Trademark Examiner will have reviewed all of the information you provided when filling out the application (and you should too!) in order to make this determination and based on his/her findings, will either preliminarily accept or reject the application.
Why Did My Trademark Get Rejected?
What most people don’t fully appreciate about the USPTO is that there are real live trademark examiners going through each and every application and while they do their best to create uniformity across all decisions (to either accept or refuse trademark applications), ultimately, the examiners are just people and two different trademark examiners might very well reach different conclusions about the viability of the same trademark application.
If the trademark examiner determines that the trademark application does not comply with trademark law, he/she will issue a Trademark Office Action.
Principally, there are two main types of office actions; Procedural Trademark Office Actions and Substantive Trademark Office Actions.
Procedural Trademark Office Actions
Procedural Trademark Office Actions are those which require the applicant to make fairly simple amendments to the application and typically involves things like fixing incorrect information about the applicant (perhaps the company is an LLC even though the application is listed as a Corporation), and/or “disclaiming” the rights to one of the words in the trademark.
Examples of Procedural Office Actions:
- Disclaimer: If a part of the trademark is excessively “generic” or “descriptive” given the goods/services sold under the trademark application, the USPTO will require the applicant to “disclaim” the rights to that specific word in order to allow the rest of the trademark application to proceed. For example, a Pizza shop owner with the prospective trademark AbaDaba Pizza would need to disclaim the rights to the word, “Pizza” in order for the trademark application to proceed.
- Specimen Refusal: When filing a trademark application, the applicant must provide a “specimen” illustrating how the mark is actually being used in conjunction with the sale of the designated goods/services. If the specimen does not demonstrate “Use in Commerce”, it will be rejected.
- Class Refusal: When an applicant submits a trademark application, he/she must specifically designate a USPTO Class that catalogs the nature of the goods/services sold under the trademark. For example, a person who intends to sell T-SHIRTS would designate CL 025. In the event that the applicant selects the wrong class of goods, the USPTO will reject the application.
- Multiple-Class Requirement: When an applicant chooses to draft his/her own description of the goods/services sold under the trademark, he may inadvertently include items which actually belong in more than one class. In this case, the USPTO will reject the application and require the applicant to submit part of the description in an additional Class/es
- Legal Entity Errors: In the event that the legal entity designated in the application does not match the actual nature of the business entity, the USPTO will reject the trademark and issue an Office Action.
It is worth spending a bit more time covering Disclaimers as they frequently appear in trademark office actions. The purpose of the disclaimer is very often misunderstood but is nevertheless a powerful way to obtain trademark protection on marks that would otherwise not be admissible due to descriptive or generic prohibitions (descriptive and generic marks are not eligible for trademark protection). Imagine for the moment that you plan on launching a new BBQ restaurant and want to call it, Sebastian’s BBQ. Naturally, you should not be able to stop another person from using the word BBQ in his restaurant name (that wouldn’t be fair!) and but you should be able to obtain proprietary rights to the use of the word BBQ, ALONG with the word, Sebastian’s. Thus the fundamental purpose of the disclaimer statement is to concede that other businesses also have the to use the disclaimed word (e.g. BBQ) in their trademarks. If you did not disclaim one of the words in your trademark application when it was initially submitted, the trademark office action may require you to add a disclaimer statement to your application. More specifically, you may have to provide a response to an office action, which includes a Disclaimer Statement if your desired trademark is;
- An Informational Word
- Laudatory (words which describe how great something is)
- A Well-Known Symbol
- Deceptively Misdescriptive
This is not necessarily a full and comprehensive list but covers the meta-idea of the types of things, which need to be disclaimed. Critically, in the event that the applicant voluntarily provides a disclaimer but did not need to issue the disclaimer, the disclaimer may be withdrawn.
Substantive Trademark Office Actions
Substantive Trademark Office Actions are more challenging to overcome than procedural trademark office actions and require the applicant to provide a written response, which answers the substantive problems outlined by the USPTO trademark examiner.
Section 2(d): Likelihood of Confusion Refusal
Perhaps the most common type of substantive trademark office action is the Section 2(d) Likelihood of Consumer Confusion Refusal. Here, the trademark examiner has searched the USPTO database for registered trademarks and has discovered a trademark (or several trademarks) with a sufficiently similar set of goods/services to the applicant’s so as to (conceivably) cause consumer confusion and therefore render the newly applied for trademark inadmissible. Importantly, for a consumer confusion rejection to be triggered, the trademark examiner does not need to show that the marks are identical but rather that they are simply confusingly similar. You might very well be wondering, who’s to say what qualifies as “Confusingly Similar”? That is a very good question and the job of the trademark attorney who files the response to your trademark office action will make the case that consumer confusion would not arise for reasons xyz.
How to Respond to a Trademark Office Action 2(d) Refusal
Remember, there are two steps that must be made to marshal the Likelihood of Consumer Confusion Refusal; The first is that the trademark itself is sufficiently similar to an existing trademark and the second step is that the associated goods/services of the two marks are sufficiently similar. Can you poke a hole in either of these charges? For instance, it may be true that the marks are very similar but the goods/services are really not all that related. Thus, a good response to a trademark office action anchored in a Likelihood of Confusion refusal will articulate how/why the marks differ and how/why the goods/services are distinguished and unrelated so that consumer confusion will not occur. In the event that such an argument cannot reasonably be made, the applicant has two additional recourses to consider.
The first is simply to alter the goods/services initially applied for in the trademark application and restrict them to a very narrow application. The second option (though a more challenging route) is to obtain consent from the cited trademark registrant to use the trademark and agree that no likelihood of confusion exists. Here, the applicant will submit a consent agreement, which states the registrant’s consent to use of the mark and his belief that no consumer confusion exists.
Section 2(e): Descriptiveness Refusal
Remember, Trademark rights exist along a spectrum of distinctiveness. The more distinct the trademark, the more eligible for trademark protection (and the greater the strength of that protection). The less distinct the trademark (either due to genericism or descriptiveness), the less eligible for trademark protection. When a Trademark Office Action is anchored in a Descriptiveness Refusal, the trademark examiner is alleging that the trademark merely describes the nature of the goods/services outlined in the application and is therefore not sufficiently distinct to warrant exclusive trademark rights. For example, a company that sells light bulbs would not be able to obtain a trademark on “Bright Lights” because the trademark, Bright Lights, is describing the product that the company is selling.
How to Respond to a Trademark Office Action 2(e) Refusal
Principally, the trademark attorney responding to the office action will need to make a case that the mark is not, in fact, descriptive of the goods/services listed in the trademark application. Typically, the response to the office action will argue that while the trademark may seem descriptive, it is in fact only suggestive and therefore is eligible for trademark protection. The difference between a suggestive trademark and a descriptive trademark is rather hazy but centrally, suggestive trademarks require more thought and imagination from the observer of the trademark to hypothesize the goods/services sold while descriptive trademarks require much less imagination. This is a powerful argument indeed if articulated properly.
Even if the trademark is absolutely descriptive, the applicant still has several routes of recourse available to him. The first is claiming that the trademark has obtained secondary meaning, or acquired distinctiveness, under Section 2(f). Here, the response to the trademark office action will concede that the trademark is descriptive however, the argument will suggest that the trademark has been used with such regularity and frequency that this otherwise descriptive mark has accrued secondary meaning. That is to say, the trademark has acquired distinctness in the eyes of the consumer and now serves as a unique source identifier for the company using it. It is not always easy to establish secondary meaning.
Secondly, the applicant also has the option of amending the trademark application to the Supplemental register. The Supplemental register is the second tier Trademark Register (in contrast to the principal register) and is designed to allow descriptive trademarks to be listed that would otherwise not immediately qualify to be listed on the Principal Register. While not as powerful as a trademark listed on the Principal Register, trademarks that are listed in the Supplemental Register still allow the registrant to use the registration symbol ®, bring suit in federal court to stop infringement, use the registration as a preliminary basis for registration in other countries, and protect against the registration of confusingly similar trademarks that would otherwise be barred by the likelihood of confusion test.
Notably, marks that are Generic, or wording and designs that are the common name of the goods/services listed in the application are never eligible for trademark registration and cannot be listed on the supplemental register.
Embrace the Supplemental Register
In the event that the USPTO issues a trademark office action based on 2(e), Merely Descriptive grounds and fighting the office action is not an option, it may be prudent to request to amend the trademark application from the Principal Register to the Supplemental Register. The Supplemental Register is admittedly the less desirable of the two Registers and is available for those marks which are not yet sufficiently distinct to qualify for eligibility on the Principal Register.
While trademarks which are published on the tier-2 Register still protect against later-filed competitor trademarks, the protections afforded by the Supplemental Register are not as robust or comprehensive. Fundamentally, Applicants should consider the Supplemental Register as a “layover station” upon which to park one’s trademark until secondary meaning has been achieved and the trademark which was otherwise “descriptive”, is now sufficiently distinct.
Key Advantages of the Supplemental Register Include:
- The Trademark registrant is entitled to use the ® next to the mark
- The registered Trademark is afforded protection against the secondary registration of a competitor mark under the Section 2(d), Likelihood of Confusion, doctrine
- The Trademark owner maintains the right to obtain registration in foreign countries on the basis of the Mark
- The owner of the Trademark may bring suit in federal court on grounds of trademark infringement
Finally, please note that registration on the Supplemental Register is available only to those trademarks which are presently “in use” (and not filed under an Intent-to-Use, 1(b) Application).
Miscellaneous Trademark Office Actions
Trademark Office Actions will often also be rooted in problems that are neither quite substantive nor explicitly procedural but rather some sort of hybrid of the two. Specimen refusals are a good example of this. Remember, when filing a trademark office action, the applicant must demonstrate to the USPTO that the mark is being used in commerce (unless filing an Intent-to-Use application). In order to demonstrate that the trademark is being used in commerce, the applicant must submit a specimen, or record of proof that that quite literally shows the mark being used in commerce. A quick note on the Use In Commerce requirement – the USPTO has never come out with an exact number of sales that must be made before the applicant can claim that there is “Use” however trademark doctrine does call for “Bona Fide” use, rather than “token” use. For example, selling a single T-shirt to a friend would constitute token use rather than Bona Fide use and would therefore not qualify as “Use in Commerce.” Conversely, selling 1000 T-Shirts to different customers across the country is illustrative of Bona Fide use and therefore would satisfy the Use in Commerce Requirement.
Proper Specimen for Goods
Remember, the USPTO wants to see that your mark is really being used as a source identifier and you therefore need to show your mark tethered to a good in a meaningful way so that consumers come to associate your trademark with the good. Proper specimens for goods include:
- Product tags/labels which, show the trademark prominently displayed
- Product packaging which, show the trademark prominently displayed
- An image of the product itself with the trademark prominently displayed
- A screenshot of an e-commerce page of the applicant’s website or a screenshot of an Amazon page which prominently displays the trademark near the product sold
Proper Specimens for Services
Providing a specimen for a trademark application that covers a service may seem a little more abstract (there is no product to attach the good to) but the USPTO still offers a variety of options of appropriate specimens. Proper specimens for services include:
- Letterheads on advertising material specifically referencing the designated service
- Internet Advertising
- Print Advertising
The trademark examiner might determine that the submitted specimen does not sufficiently show how the trademark is used in commerce and in order to respond to a trademark office action anchored in a specimen refusal, the applicant will need to submit an additional specimen (of the sort previously mentioned), which does illustrate the mark being used in commerce. A very common problem is that the applicant has submitted a trademark in the application, which actually differs from the representation of the trademark as it is used in commerce. Similarly, applicants often mistakenly submit a mock-up of the “proof” (perhaps an image of what a product’s packaging may look like in the future with the trademark) but not actual evidence of that packaging being sold in commerce. Lastly, applicants very often submit what they believe to be a proper specimen showing the trademark being used, as a trademark, but in fact, the mark is (in the opinion of the trademark examiner) perceived by consumers to be informational in nature. That is to say, the trademark examiner may argue that the trademark does not quite operate as a trademark – it does not serve as a source identifier. Instead, the “trademark” is somehow descriptive.
How to Respond to a Specimen Refusal
First and foremost, the applicant should review the list of acceptable specimens listed above and make sure that the substitute specimen is acceptable. Next, when responding to the office action, the applicant should offer a clear and thorough explanation of what precisely the newly submitted specimen consists of and how in fact it is being used in commerce. The applicant should focus on the nexus between the specimen (proof of use) and the goods/services listed in the application – if the nexus is not strong enough, the specimen will not be accepted. Ultimately, an acceptable specimen must provide evidence that the mark is used in connection specifically with the goods/service listed, serve as a functional source identifier, and provide a matching trademark to the one listed in the application.
Amendments to Goods/Services
Similar to Trademark Office Actions based on unacceptable specimens, many Trademark Office Actions are sent to address problems with the Goods/Services listed. Specifically, in the event that the trademark examiner believes that the trademark is indefinite, vague, or excessively broad, the application will be rejected. Generally, the trademark examiner will provide an explanation as to why the identification of the Goods/Services is unacceptable along with a suggestion of how to amend the Goods/Services. Trademark Attorneys want to make sure that the listed Goods/Services are written in “plain english” and if the description of the Goods/Services consists of industry jargon that is so idiosyncratic as to make the description non-understandable, the examining trademark attorney will request an amendment.
“Failure to Function as a Trademark” Office Action
The “Failure to Function As a Trademark” Office Action is considered to be somewhat of an exotic reason cited to halt the progress of a trademark application but more and more, examining attorneys at the USPTO have indeed been rejecting applications because of this very issue.
What is the standard for Failure To Function as a Trademark?
Slogans and other terms that are considered to be merely informational in nature, or to be common laudatory phrases or commonly expressed concepts or sentiments that would ordinarily be used in business or in the particular trade or industry, are not registrable. In re Texas With Love, LLC, 2020 USPQ2d 11290
Principally, when a trademark does not actually serve as a brand identifier, which is to say, the “trademark” does not function in such a way as to allow the end-consumer to understand who the source-company is which is providing the good/service to which the “trademark” is attached, the mark is not actually operating in the capacity of a trademark. In many ways, this is simply another variation of the “descriptiveness” refusal. Why does this matter? Remember, trademarks tell consumers which company has produced or manufactured a particular product (i.e., who the source of the product is) so the consumer is better situated to decide if he/she feels comfortable purchasing the product based on the reputation of the company behind the product.
Do you feel “better” sitting in a BMW than in a Kia? If so, that may very well due to the biases and assumptions you carry about each company and consequently, the likelihood you would be willing to purchase a product provided by each respective company.
Similarly, Trademarks are concerned with protecting the company from nefarious competitors trading off of the good will of the company’s brand by using a trademark that is the same or even sufficiently similar while selling similar products, usually of inferior quality.
Therefore, a strong trademark must clearly identify who the source of the product or service is. A failure to function refusal means that the mark in question has not met that standard. The mark is not capable of indicating who manufactures or sells the product or service in question.
What are Examples of Trademarks that Fail to Function?
While it may be hard to immediately conceptualize what trademarks fall into the Fail to Function category, simply reframe this question by focusing on whether it is obvious if the proposed trademark allows you to understand, in a specific way, the source-company behind the trademark. As we will see, this can be very difficult indeed when trademark applicants attempt to protect religious, social, or environmental messages. Similarly, messages that merely provide information about the product/service sold under the banner of the trademark will nearly always fail to function as a trademark. Phrases and slogans which attempt to induce the observer to take a certain action are likewise very often ineligible for trademark protection. Simply, none of these messages (and therefore not “trademarks”) help identify the source of the product or service.
Here are a few examples of words and phrases that would very likely be rejected due to failure to function as a trademark:
- I love you
- God bless you
- Keep it in the family
- Fight hard
- Have a nice day
- Fast headache relief
- Wait here
- Wave goodbye
- John 3:16
- Technology is bad
- Vote today
- Drive safely
- Once a Marine, Always a Marine
- Taco Tuesday
These phrases can easily be confused by consumers as directional, supportive, inspirational, or factual messages. There’s nothing that indicates to the observer of these messages which company is behind the phrase and therefore, an examining attorney would almost certainly reject these trademarks. Of course, If the trademark applicant disagrees with the examining attorney’s assessment, then it would be up to the applicant to prove the mark in question is, in fact, capable of acting as a source identifier. Reversals of refusals based on failure to function are rare, but do happen. Perhaps one of the more famous instances of an overturn of such a rejection is the SAY YES TO WHAT’S NEXT trademark for goods in CL 016; 025; 041.
Initially, the trademark examining attorney rejected the application because the trademark was deemed a “commonplace message or expression that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well recognized sentiment”. The applicant filed an office action response which did not manage to sway the examining attorney and ultimately, the applicant appealed the examining attorney’s decision with the TTAB (which handles trademark oppositions). Ultimately, the TTTAB held in favor of the Applicant because there was not sufficient evidence that the market would “not perceive the mark as trademark” and the examining attorney did not provide sufficient proof that the trademark was so common or widespread that the “consuming public would view it as a common place expression or sentiment”. The moral of the story is that with enough perseverance, trademark office actions can be won!
Response Deadlines: When You Need to File a Response to the Trademark Office Action
Keep Your Eyes on the Six Month Mark
The USPTO is a stickler for being on time. In the event that the Trademark examiner issues an office action, the applicant must submit a response to the office action, accounting for ALL of the stated legal issues, within six months of the issuance of the action. In Office Actions that raise both procedural and substantive issues, this can be particularly confusing. Please discuss each issue carefully with a trademark lawyer to get a sense of the scope of the response needed and how much preparation will be required to draft and submit the response.
The USPTO is not entirely unforgiving and if you happen to miss the 6-month period, you may be able to request an extension of time to submit your response. You can expect the USPTO to charge an extra fee for granting this time allowance.
What Happens if I Don’t Respond to a Trademark Office Action?
The USPTO will automatically render your trademark Abandoned if you do not respond to your trademark office action within 6 months of its issuance. In the event that your trademark goes Abandoned and you are still interested in keeping your trademark, you will need to file a brand new trademark application. More importantly, if your trademark goes abandoned, you will lose your priority date which you received upon initial filing your trademark application.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Trademark Office Action?
There is unfortunately no set price for responding to an office action and depending on whether or not the office action is Procedural or Substantive in nature, the cost may range from only a few hundred dollars to several thousand. The most complicated and time-intensive types of office actions to respond to are those which are based on a Likelihood of Confusion rejection and a Descriptiveness rejection. The simplest types of office actions to respond to are those which simply require an adjustment to the goods/services and/or a disclaimer requirement.
How to File a Response to a trademark Office Action
Step 1: Speak With Someone at the USPTO
The USPTO has quite a good team of administrators and associates who can answer certain fundamental questions surrounding your application. Notably, they cannot and indeed will not offer any sort of legal advice but if you have any technical or administrative issues, they can typically point you in the right direction. For any substantive questions, please speak with your trademark lawyer who can if need be, contact the trademark examining attorney on your behalf.
Step 2: Contact a Trademark Lawyer
Trademark office actions can be complex and you should first speak with a top trademark lawyer to discuss the nature of the legal objections raised in your trademark office action. It may very well be the case that the trademark attorney feels that he can clear it all up with a quick (and persuasive) phone call to the examiner.
Step 3: File the Response to the Trademark Office Action through TEAS
Fortunately, the USPTO relies on a fairly efficient, online platform called the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to manage the various correspondences surrounding the issuance and response to the trademark office action. Assuming your application is eligible to be processed through TEAS, your trademark lawyer will be filing all correspondences through it.
Final Office Actions
The USPTO only provides a limited number of opportunities for a trademark applicant to correct a trademark application. A “Non-Final Office Action” marks the first such opportunity the applicant has to cure the specified defects (whether they be Procedural or Substantive) while a “Final Office Action” is one where the trademark application is in a final review and depending on the acceptability of the response, will mean either the publication or final rejection of the trademark. The final office action will include all of the legal problems associated with the application, including a response to any previous rebuttals the applicant provided to preceding office actions and represents the examining attorney’s unwillingness to budge and approve the application. A Final Office Action represents THE LAST OPPORTUNITY to respond to the outstanding legal issues before the mark Abandons.
In the event that you receive a Final Trademark Office Action, there a couple of options available to you. The first and perhaps most straightforward path forward to is to sit down with an experienced trademark attorney and determine why your previous responses to the Office Action did not suffice. Did you miss a relatively straightforward direction to correct a description of the goods/services? Did the examining attorney require you to amend the Class and you failed to pay the additional filing fee? These types of procedural issues sometimes slip through the crack and are relatively simple to fix. If you are missing a simple procedural amendment, it shouldn’t be too difficult to satisfy the outstanding issues and have your mark proceed to publication.
In the event that your trademark application was rejected due to a substantive issue, such as a 2(d) Likelihood of Confusion issue or a 2(e) Descriptiveness problem, and you have already submitted a rebuttal to the original office action unsuccessfully, you may very well want to fortify the evidentiary record of your case with an additional argument by submitting a Request for Reconsideration and then submit an appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). Fundamentally, the purpose of the Request for Reconsideration is to increase the strength of your case in preparation of its final review by the TTAB.
PRO TIP: Experienced trademark attorneys will simultaneously file a notice of appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ( TTAB) which will present the applicant with an additional opportunity to appeal in the event that the Final Office Action stands.
Trademark Office Action Response Check List
Guidelines for Responding to Trademark Office Actions
Remember, every single office action is unique and is responsive to specific issues that are problematic to the particular trademark application. Fundamentally, there are two types of trademark office actions; Substantive Trademark Office Actions and Procedural Trademark Office Actions. Make sure your response to the trademark office action accounts for both.
- Read the Office Action Very Carefully
- Discuss the Office Action With a Trademark Lawyer
- Ensure the Response to the Office Action Deals With Both the Substantive and Procedural Problems
- File a Response to the Office Action Within the 6-Month Period
Can I Appeal if the Trademark Examiner Rejects My Office Action Response?
Yes. The initial rejection of a trademark office action response is not final and the applicant may choose to submit an additional set of explanations to convince the examiner why the application should proceed to publication. However, in many instances, it may be rather obvious that the trademark examiner will simply not budge (this is especially true for Llikelihood of Confusion and Descriptiveness rejections) and it may make more sense to simply file a new trademark application under a new name. Still, as a final recourse, applicants may submit an appeal to a final office action directly to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) for an in-depth proceeding with an administrative review.