Patent Law Updates | New Statutes, Regulations and Rules
June 22, 2012
USPTO Extends After Final Consideration Pilot to Sept. 30, 2012
Extension of After Final Consideration Pilot
USPTO No. 12-37, 6/20/2012
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has extended its After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) to Sept. 30, 2012. Originally scheduled to end on June 16, 2012, the extension of the AFCP will give more stakeholders the opportunity to have their patent applications given enhanced consideration after a final rejection.
The extension will also enable the USPTO to gather additional data to evaluate the pilot and identify best practices for compact prosecution.
The AFCP is one of the USPTO’s ongoing efforts to increase collaboration between examiners and stakeholders and to encourage compact prosecution. Originally launched on March 25, 2012, the pilot has shown an increase in allowance rates for applications after final rejection.
The After Final Consideration Pilot is part of the USPTO’s on-going efforts towards compact prosecution and increased collaboration between examiners and stakeholders.
“Compact prosecution is one of our top goals,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos. “The AFCP pilot will allow some additional flexibility for applicants and examiners to work together in after final situations to move applications toward allowance.”
The AFCP authorizes extra time for examiners to consider responses filed after a final rejection. If you have filed a response under 37 CFR §1.116 which is up for consideration by the examiner in charge of your application between these dates, the examiner will determine whether he or she should take advantage of the time authorized by the pilot to consider the response.
Examiners will use their professional judgment to decide whether the response can be fully considered, including any additional search required, within a three hour time limit in order to determine whether the application can be allowed. You need not make any special request for consideration of an amendment under this pilot program.
As always, the option to request an interview with the examiner, consistent with MPEP 713, is available to you.
If you have received a final rejection, you should consider filing a response under 37 CFR §1.116 during the duration of the pilot if you believe that such a response may lead to allowance of your application with only limited further search and/or consideration by the examiner.
The AFCP, which started on March 25, 2012, and was originally scheduled to run through June 16, 2012, has been extended until September 30, 2012. The extension of the AFCP will give more stakeholders the opportunity to have their applications given enhanced consideration after a final rejection, and enable the USPTO to gather additional data to evaluate the pilot and identify best practices for compact prosecution.
From the USPTO’s preliminary findings, the pilot shows an increase in allowance rates for applications after final rejection. The pilot will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine if the program increases the number of applications that are allowed after a final rejection, thereby reducing the number of unnecessary Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs).
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