Office of Patent Legal Administration

The Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA) drafts regulations and develops practices for the examination of patent applications, as well as assists in the implementation of these new regulations and practices. In addition, OPLA staff author rule packages published in the Federal Register, create Official Gazette notices, monitor public comments, and formulate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). To reflect changes in law, rules, procedures, and policies, OPLA recommends updates to the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) as well as the forms used by the Patent Examining Corps (Corps) and external customers. Lastly, OPLA prepares and delivers training to the Corps.

Other OPLA staff duties include supporting post grant instruments such as reexamination proceedings and reissue applications, and treating applications for patent term extension and patent term adjustment. OPLA has the authority to decide various petitions which have been delegated for consideration. Legal advisors also deliver training on specialized subjects and patent law and procedure for the Office of Patent Training.

Additionally, in its representative capacity of the USPTO, OPLA responds to inquiries about patent law and Office policies and procedures via letters, phone calls, lectures, presentations, and other contacts with members of the public and the patent bar. OPLA also assists in the efforts to negotiate the harmonization of patent laws and other international matters.