USPTO EXTENDS AFCP 2.0 & QPIDS PILOT PROGRAMS ANOTHER YEAR
September 11, 2017
As expected, the USPTO has extended both the After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP 2.0) and Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) pilot programs another year to September 30, 2018. The pilot programs were set to expire at the end of the USPTO’s current fiscal year (September 30, 2017).
AFCP 2.0 authorizes additional time for examiners to search and/or consider amendments filed after final rejection. The program can lead to allowance after final rejection without filing a request for continued examination (RCE). To take advantage of the program, Applicants must amend at least one independent claim, which does not broaden the claim in any respect. If the amendment does not place the application in condition for allowance, examiners are given additional time to conduct an interview to discuss the results of their search and/or consideration. To that end, Applicants can sometimes benefit from the additional search and consideration afforded by the pilot program, even if the results do not lead to allowance. There is no USPTO fee for this program.
QPIDS permits the consideration of an information disclosure statement (IDS) after payment of the issue fee without filing an RCE. Under QPIDS, an IDS is considered by the Examiner, and then a supplemental Notice of Allowance is mailed identifying consideration of the IDS. Alternatively, if the information submitted in the IDS requires reopening of prosecution, then an RCE will be entered, the application will be withdrawn from issue, and prosecution will reopen. To be eligible for QPIDS, the IDS must present information first cited or known within the past three months and satisfy 37 C.F.R. § 1.97(e)(1) or 1.97(e)(2).