How to Properly Complete an After Final Consideration Pilot Program Request Form with the USPTO

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of filling out a Certification and Request for Consideration using the After Final Consideration Pilot Program 2.0 form. While the AFCP request form itself is easy to understand and complete, the challenge lies in ensuring that your response is considered under the AFCP program. Let’s dive into the details.

Purpose of the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) Program

The AFCP program aims to expedite the patent application process, reducing the time it takes for an application to become a patent. Participating in the AFCP program also eliminates the need to pay for and file a request for continued examination (RCE).

This program was introduced in November 2014 to address the issue of having to file a response and request for continued examination after a final office action, which would reset the examiner’s clock for mailing the next office action. The Patent Office recognized that in many cases, the claims were close to being allowed, and the examiner didn’t require significant time for an update search and allowance. Thus, the AFCP program was created to give the examiner credit for the work needed to allow the case.

How to Complete the AFCP Request Form

Filling out the AFCP request form is a straightforward process. However, the real challenge lies in persuading the examiner to consider your response under the AFCP program. Remember that you cannot force the examiner to do so; they must agree to consider your response.

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Header Information

The header section of the form requires basic information about your patent application. You can find most of this information on your filing receipt. The Petitioner’s Docket Number is optional and can be left blank if you don’t have a system for identifying multiple applications. Make sure to complete all the fields on the form to avoid any refusal of your request.

Signature Block

At the bottom of the form, you’ll find the signature block. You must sign the form for your request to be accepted. The good news is that a wet signature is not required. You can simply use a slash signature (/[your name]/) to sign the form. This saves you the hassle of printing, signing, and scanning the document. The Petitioner Registration Number field can be left blank unless you have a patent attorney representing you.

Convincing the Examiner to Consider Your Response

Now, let’s address the crucial question of how to get the examiner to agree to consider your response under the AFCP program. The key is to ask the examiner for permission. You can do this by conducting an examiner’s interview.

It’s important to note that the AFCP Program only applies to responses after a final office action. Responses to nonfinal office actions will not be considered under the AFCP Program.

Once you receive a final office action, it’s advisable to consider interviewing the examiner to understand how to amend your claims and present arguments to overcome the rejections. In my experience, preparing a comprehensive response and emailing it to the examiner before the interview helps guide the discussion. Be open to amending your claims to address the rejections instead of solely arguing against the examiner. Remember, the AFCP Program requires claim amendments.

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In my view, you can’t change someone’s mind, but you can provide them with new information that may lead to a new decision on the allowability of your claims. Those claim amendments serve as the new information, and the examiner’s notice of allowance represents the new decision. Therefore, amending the claims, if done properly, is not a drawback. Just ensure that the amendments focus on the novelty of your invention.

During the examiner’s interview, I recommend asking the examiner whether they would consider your response under the AFCP Program. If the examiner believes that your proposed claim amendments are close to being allowable, they will likely agree to consider your response under the AFCP Program. However, if the examiner thinks you haven’t gone far enough, they will deny your request and ask you to file a request for continued examination instead. This interaction helps gauge the examiner’s intent regarding the allowance of your application.

Get Assistance with the AFCP Request Form

If you require assistance with filling out the AFCP form or have questions about protecting your invention, I, James Yang, an Orange County patent attorney, can provide the help you need. I work with inventors and attorneys throughout California as a trusted partner in the patent protection journey. Let’s schedule a consultation to discuss your invention and determine whether the AFCP Request is the suitable procedure for your needs.

Schedule Your Consultation: Call (949) 433-0900

For more information about patent-related inquiries and guidance, visit Garrity Traina – your go-to resource for patent protection expertise.