In May of 2013 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initiated a new program known as the After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP). The AFCP authorizes patent examiners to take additional time in considering responses to final patent rejections.
During this process, the patent examiner will conduct an interview with the patent applicant and patent attorney, in an attempt to better understand why the applicant believes his or her application should overcome the USPTO’s previous rejection.
To apply for reconsideration under the AFCP, the applicant must file a response under 7 CFR §1.116, informing the USPTO of the applicants intent to rely on the program.
Essentially, the program allows for patent reconsideration after a final rejection (without an appeal), but only so long as the invention is claimed more narrowly than in the previous application. Any attempt to use this program to expand the patents coverage will be dismissed.
As the program is essentially a “trial run” the initial program was supposed to end in September. However, the USPTO decided to grant the AFCP an extension, allowing the program to run through December 14th, 2013.
As this date is rapidly approaching, independent inventors and patent attorneys alike may be interested in keeping an eye on the program, in case the USPTO again decides to extend its duration.