The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently announced a new Post-Prosecution Pilot (P3) program to intensify prosecution during the time period after a final rejection and prior to the filing of a notice of appeal. This is a new alternative to the existing options that are available for responding to the final rejections. The P3 program was announced in a Federal Register Notice which was published on July 11, 2016.The main aim of this program is to reduce the number of appeals to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, as well as reduce the number of requests for continued examination. This program also brings the examiners and applicants together and boosts the efficiency of prosecution.
The P3 program is not applicable to reissue, design or plant applications. Applicants who are willing to participate in the pilot program can file a request for reconsideration under P3 within two months from the mailing date of a final rejection and prior to filing a notice of appeal. The request must be submitted along with a response to the final rejection containing no more than five pages of argument. The request must also include a proposed non-broadening amendment to one or more claims. Once the request is accepted by the USPTO, a panel of examiners will hold a conference with the applicant to review the response and the applicant can make a 20 minutes presentation to the panel of examiners. The conference will be held in person, by telephone, or by a video conferencing tool set up by the USPTO.
In response to this discussion, the PTO will issue a notice of decision. This notice will indicate one among the three options: (1) Uphold the final rejection (2) allow the application or, (3) reopen prosecution. If the final rejection is upheld, the applicant must file a notice of appeal or Request for Continued Examination (RCE) within six months of the mail date of the final rejection. If the application is allowable, the USPTO will mail a Notice of Allowance with the Notice of Decision and if the USPTO reopens prosecution, it will withdraw the final rejection and issue a new office action. There is no additional USPTO fee to participate in this program.
However, the participation in P3 is limited. The USPTO started accepting requests on July 11th, 2016 and will accept these requests until January 12, 2017, or until it receives 1600 requests, whichever occurs first.
Authored By Anjali Santosh
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