In this blog post, I will explain how to fill out a Certification and Request for Consideration under the After Final Consideration Pilot Program 2.0 form. Please note that the AFCP request form is very easy to fill out. It’s self-explanatory. The more difficult question is how you get your response to be considered under the AFCP program. We will be discussing these things below.
This form is also referred to as the AFCP request form. You can find this form by searching “USPTO PTO/SB/4334” on google.com. You can also download the form by clicking on the link below.
If you need help completing the AFCP form and other stages of protecting your invention, you can hire me, Orange County patent attorney James Yang. I work with inventors and attorneys of counsel throughout California. You can schedule a consultation, or read on to find out more about filling out the AFCP form properly.
Purpose of the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) Program
The purpose of the AFCP program is to reduce the time for a patent application to mature into a patent. By entering the After Final Consideration Pilot Program, you can also avoid paying for and filing a request for continued examination (RCE).
The After Final Consideration Pilot Program began in November 2014 and has continued. Before 2014, after a final office action, you had to file a response along with a request for continued examination. Unfortunately, this reset the examiner’s clock or time to mail the next office action. The Patent Office recognized that in many instances, the claims were very close to allowance. The examiner didn’t require much time to do an update search and allow the case. Hence, the AFCP Program was born.
The AFCP Program is a way to give the examiner credit for the work that they needed to do to allow the case.
How to fill out the AFCP Request form?
Filling out the AFCP request form is very easy to do. Later, I’ll explain the more difficult part – how to get the examiner to agree to consider your response under the AFCP Program. You can’t force the examiner to do so. The examiner needs to agree to consider your response under the AFCP Program.
The header information contains basic information about your patent application.
You can find the information requested in the header on your filing receipt. The only optional information is the Petitioner’s Docket Number. If you have multiple applications filed with the Patent Office and have a system for identifying those applications, you can include that information in this field. Otherwise, you should leave it blank.
You should also fill out the rest of the fields requested on the form. Otherwise, your request may be refused.
The Application No. field refers to the serial number of your application. The Filing Date field refers to the filing date of your patent application, not a priority date. The First Named Inventor field and the Title field can also be found on the Filing Receipt. You can also find this information by logging into the Patent Center and looking for your application.
The signature block is at the bottom of the form.
You must sign the form. Otherwise, your request will be denied. The Patent Office does not require a wet signature. Instead, you can use a slash signature. A slash signature is simply a /[your name]/. This should make it significantly easier since you don’t need to print, sign and scan the form. The signature block also has a space for the Petitioner Registration Number. I suspect a patent attorney does not represent you since you are reading this blog post. You can leave this field blank.
How to convince the examiner to consider your response under the AFCP Program?
The more important question about the AFCP request form is how do you get the examiner to agree to consider your response under the AFCP program? You can’t force the examiner to consider your response to the final office action under the AFCP program. The examiner must agree to consider your response under the AFCP program.
The answer is quite simple. You need to ask the examiner for permission. How do you ask the examiner for permission? You do that through an examiner’s interview.
The AFCP Program is only for responses after a final office action. A response to a nonfinal office action will not be considered under the AFCP Program.
Typically, after a final office action, you should consider interviewing the examiner to determine how to amend the claims and present arguments to overcome the examiner’s rejections. In my practice, I prepare a full-up response to the final office action. The response is e-mailed to the examiner and used to guide our discussion. You have to be willing to amend the claims to overcome the rejections. Otherwise, it sounds more like you’re just arguing with the examiner. Also, the AFCP Program requires you to amend the claims.
In my opinion, you cannot change someone else’s mind. However, you can give them new information so that they can make a new decision on allowability. The new information is the claim amendments. The new decision is a notice of allowance. As such, amending the claims is not a bad thing if done properly. You just need to be confident that the claim amendment is focused on your point of novelty.
With this in mind, I enter the examiner’s interview expecting to ask the examiner at the end whether the response could be considered under the AFCP Program. If the examiner believes that the proposed claim amendments are close to a notice of allowance, the examiner will agree to consider your response under the AFCP Program. However, if the examiner believes you haven’t gone far enough, the examiner will deny your request and require that you file a request for continued examination instead. This is a good way to determine whether the examiner will likely allow your application.
Get help filling out the AFCP Request Form
We can help you protect your idea. We help you to cross all of your Ts and dot all of your Is to ensure you have the protection you need to launch your product. The first step is a consultation. During our consultation, we learn about your invention and determine if the AFCP Request is the right procedure for you.