If you remember from one of my previous articles, I wasn't a huge fan of the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) program. It was launched May of 2013, and it expired by the end of September 2014. Well, it's back, and it will be around through September 30, 2015.
Apparently, AFCP now has a new feature designed to enhance communication between the Office and applicants. Like before, AFCP gives examiners more time to search and consider responses after final rejection. Examiners will be able to use the additional time to also conduct an interview with applicants, which is supposedly a plus since applicants don't have the right to an interview after final rejection. But for me, it's not a big plus because I've never had problems scheduling an interview after final rejection.
I remember when one examiner called me for an interview after I requested for consideration under the pilot. The interview went something like this:
EXAMINER: Hi, this is Examiner ___. I read over your amendments... and it looks like the claims are still not in condition for allowance.
ME: Can you tell me specifically why they're still not in condition for allowance?
EXAMINER: Uh, well, the prior art discloses all of the elements of your claim.
ME: Which prior art are you talking about?
EXAMINER: The ones in the last action.
ME: I disagree as I mentioned in the response. The prior art elements are not the same as the ones disclosed in the claims, so the prior art does not disclose all of the elements necessary.
EXAMINER: Yeah... well I still can't allow it.
So you see, AFCP was more of the same of what typically happens after final rejection. The only difference that I saw from my end, at least, was that I received a phone call from an examiner saying that my claims were still not going to be allowed before I received a written advisory action.
I guess the extension of AFCP is still an on-going effort to facilitate prosecution at least. But I'm a little disappointed that it's solely an extension of what existed before. We need to add a little more meat to this thing or else I won't bite.
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