Patent Office Introduces After Final Consideration Pilot

On April 2, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced the implementation of a new After Final Consideration Pilot. The AFCP will allow an examiner to consider and enter amendments submitted after a final rejection that will require new searching by the examiner. For a long time the Patent Office has been monitoring the length of time that applications have been pending and the increasing number of applications filed. The Patent Office has proposed numerous solutions that attempt to bend the application curve, including accelerated examination, pre-appeal brief conferences, and limiting the number of requests for continued examinations and continuation applications. The AFCP is another effort that has the potential to help reduce the application volume.