The USPTO has announced its intention to extend the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) 2.0 program through September 30, 2020. The program had been set to expire on September 30, 2019.
The AFCP 2.0 program, along with Track One, is one of several USPTO programs that are designed to streamline and shorten the patent prosecution process. To accomplish its goal, the program fosters communication between patent applicants and their examiners.
Applicants may take advantage of it by filing a request for consideration under AFCP 2.0 along with their amendment after receiving a final rejection. The examiner will then perform an initial review of the submission to determine whether he or she will be able to consider it within the time allotted by the program — three hours for utility and plant applications and one hour for design applications, including a patent search.
If the examiner will not be able to review the application within those time limits, he or she will treat the submission as a regular after-final submission under 37 CFR 1.116. If the examiner determines that he or she will be able to review the submission within the allotted time, the examiner will consider whether the submission places the application in condition for allowance. If it does, the applicant will be issued a notice of allowance. If it does not, the examiner will schedule an interview with the applicant to discuss the submission’s shortcomings.
Juristat has studied the AFCP 2.0 program extensively using our exclusive AFCP 2.0 data.
- In a 2017 study, we found that examiners issued allowances in response to 25.4% of AFCP 2.0 requests, relieving those applicants of the time and expense involved with RCEs and appeals.
- In a 2019 study, we found that not only had the percentage of allowances remained consistent, but that the AFCP 2.0’s popularity had skyrocketed from just over 10,000 applications in 2013 to almost 70,000 in 2017.
Judging by the consistency of the allowance rate and the tremendous increase in the number of filings, it appears that the program is functioning as the USPTO intended.
Readers should note, however, that the AFCP 2.0 program’s benefits are not distributed equally among all technologies, nor are AFCP 2.0 requests necessarily right for every applicant. The best way to determine whether an AFCP 2.0 submission would be advantageous for your application is to employ a data-backed patent prosecution strategy. To see how big data could revolutionize your patent practice, schedule a Juristat demo today.