The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has extended the window for its After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) in order to further evaluate the program. The pilot program is now set to end on September 30, pushed back from the original June 16 close date.
The AFCP was introduced on March 25 as a way to give stakeholders the opportunity to have their applications re-examined after final rejection. The program allows patent examiners to reconsider an application for an additional three hours to determine whether it should be allowed.
The program represents an opportunity for stakeholders to get an additional review of the allowability of their applications without having to file a Request for Continued Examination (RCE). This will not only potentially save the applicants money, it will also reduce the number of RCEs filed unnecessarily, the USPTO noted.
"Compact prosecution is one of our top goals," said USPTO director David Kappos in a statement. "The AFCP pilot will allow some additional flexibility for applicants and examiners to work together in after final situations to move applications toward allowance."
Earlier this year, IP Watchdog's Gene Quinn noted that the AFCP program was intended to address the problem of extended RCE wait periods, some of which can last more than two years. Though it is uncertain the USPTO will officially adopt the program, the system could prove to be an avenue for fast and reliable application prosecution.