The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently launched a revamped version of its After Final Consideration Pilot. The changes are the result of feedback collected during the agency’s Request for Continued Examination (RCE) outreach program.
Like its predecessor, the goal of AFCP 2.0 is to reduce patent pendency by reducing the number of RCE and encouraging increased collaboration between the applicant and the examiner to effectively advance the prosecution of the application. To accomplish these goals, the pilot program specifically authorizes additional time for examiners to search and/or consider responses after final rejection.
However, there are several changes to the process. As detailed in the Federal Register Notice, the main differences between AFCP and AFCP 2.0 include:
• An applicant must request to participate in AFCP 2.0;
• A response after final rejection under AFCP 2.0 must include an amendment to at least one independent claim; and
• The examiner will request an interview with the applicant to discuss a response, if the response did not result in a determination that all pending claims are in condition for allowance.
AFCP 2.0 will run until September 30, 2013, unless further extended by the USPTO. There is no additional fee required to request consideration of an amendment after final rejection under AFCP 2.0, but any necessary existing fee, e.g., the fee for an extension of time, must still be paid.
For more information about AFCP 2.0 and the benefits of other ongoing USPTO pilot programs, we encourage you to contact us today by phone or email to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.
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