USPTO Extends After Final Consideration Pilot

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced that it will extend the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) to Sept. 30, 2012. The initiative, which was set to expire this month, authorizes a limited amount of non-production time for examiners to consider responses filed after a final rejection in an attempt to reduce the number of Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs).

So far, the pilot has shown an increase in allowance rates for applications after final rejection, according to the USPTO. It also stated that the extension will enable the agency to gather additional data to evaluate the pilot and identify best practices for compact prosecution.

For those interested in taking advantage of the pilot, the Guidelines for Consideration of Responses After Final Rejection permit a response after final rejection in the following circumstances:

  • The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by canceling claims or complying with formal requirement(s) in response to objection(s) made in the final office action.
  • The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by rewriting objected-to claims in independent form.
  • The amendment places the application in condition for allowance by incorporating limitations from objected-to claims into independent claims, if the new claim can be determined to be allowable with only a limited amount of further consideration or search.
  • The amendment can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance with only a limited amount of further search or consideration, even if new claims are added without cancelling a corresponding number of finally rejected claims.
  • The amendment can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance by adding new limitation(s) which require only a limited amount of further consideration or search.
  • The response comprises a perfected 37 CFR 1.131 or 37 CFR 1.132 affidavit or declaration (i.e. a new declaration which corrects formal defects noted in a prior affidavit or declaration) which can be determined to place the application in condition for allowance with only a limited amount of further search or consideration.
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