USPTO Extends its After Consideration Pilot Project
The patents commissioner has announced that the After Consideration Pilot Project 2.0 (AFCP 2.0), which had been scheduled to expire December 14, 2013, is being extended through September 30, 2014. The same procedures and requirements will apply during the extension.
I have found this procedure useful in obtaining allowance in several cases where there was a stubborn rejection. In my view the AFCP streamlines the patent process and can avoid costly procedures, such as appeal or request for continued examination. I welcome this news.
The AFCP 2.0 pilot offers a way to get some negotiating done after a Final Rejection. When an AFCP request is filed with an After Final Response that amends at least one independent claim, the Examiner is authorized to accept minor amendments that the Examiner used to be required to refuse, especially if they make the claimed invention a bit more specific. The Examiner is also then directed to contact the attorney to discuss other possible amendments that might make the claims patentable. The AFCP or something quite like it ought to be made a permanent feature of the patent examination process.