The After Final Consideration Program 2.0 (AFCP 2.0) was launched by the USPTO on May 19, 2013. The aim of such program is to provide faster and more efficient prosecution for applicants.
Similar to the old AFCP, version 2.0 gives the Examiner additional time to search and/or consider responses after final rejection. Under AFCP 2.0, Examiners will also use the additional time to schedule and conduct an interview to discuss the results of their search and/or consideration with the Applicant, if such response does not place the application in condition for allowance. In this way, there is a realized benefit from the additional search and consideration afforded by the pilot, even when the results do not lead to allowance.
To be eligible for consideration under AFCP 2.0, the Applicant must file a response under 37 CFR §1.116, which includes a request for consideration under the AFCP 2.0 and an amendment of at least one independent claim that does not broaden the scope of the independent claim in any aspect. (See the Federal Register at 78 Fed. Reg. 29117 for a complete description of how to request consideration under AFCP 2.0).
The Examiner will be allotted a set amount of time under AFCP 2.0 to consider the response. If the Examiner’s consideration of a proper AFCP 2.0 request and response does not result in a determination that all pending claims are in condition for allowance, the Examiner will request an interview with the Applicant to discuss the response.
The AFCP 2.0 supplements the option to request an interview with the Examiner, consistent with MPEP 713 and is useful in the case when the Applicant would like to response to a final rejection under 37 CFR 1.116 that is believed to give an allowance with only limited/minimum further searching and/or consideration by the Examiner. Also, as Examiner interviews after final are not given to the Applicant by right, the AFCP 2.0 facilitates further communication with the Applicant after final.
The AFCP 2.0 is available until September 30, 2013 (with a chance of extension). Any request to consider a response after final rejection under AFCP 2.0 must be filed on or after May 19, 2013, and on or before September 30, 2013. There is no additional fee required to request consideration of an amendment after final rejection under AFCP 2.0, but any necessary existing fees, e.g., the fee for an extension of time, must still be paid.
米国弁護士 Sarah Moore
(1) USPTO announces After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0
(2) After Final Consideration Pilot Program 2.0 Federal Register notice