The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the debut of its After Final Consideration Pilot program in alignment with its ongoing efforts to increase collaboration between the patent review board and applicants while streamlining the prosecution process.
"Compact prosecution is one of our top goals," USPTO director David Kappos explained. "The AFCP [program] will allow some additional flexibility for applicants and examiners to work together after final situations to move applications toward allowance."
During this test period, officials hope to determine if and how the extra time will factor into the number of applications ultimately allowed and the number of Requests for Continued Examination.
According to IP Watchdog's Gene Quinn, the AFCP seems to be inspired primarily by the growing problem presented by lengthy RCE wait periods, some of which have been known to exceed two years.
Quinn ultimately concluded that the provision bolstered the USPTO's balanced management of both examiners and applicants. The system is still set up in such a way that reasonable, accurate claims and efficient initial search tactics will facilitate fast and successful prosecution.