Patent Trial and Appeal Board
The Board's duties include:
- "(1) on written appeal of an applicant, review adverse decisions of examiners upon applications for patents pursuant to section 134(a);
(2) review appeals of reexaminations pursuant to section 134(b);
(3) conduct derivation proceedings pursuant to section 135; and
(4) conduct inter partes reviews and post-grant reviews pursuant to chapters 31 and 32."
35 U.S.C. § 6(b).
The Board also continues to decide patent interferences pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 135 (continuing under residual authority after March 16, 2013). Interferences are provided for by 35 U.S.C. § 135. The rules governing interferences are found at 37 CFR § 41.100-41.208. Chapter 2300 of The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure and the Standing Order (PDF) sets forth additional guidance for interferences.
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A Day in the Life of an Administrative Patent Judge —
In the Detroit Satellite Office
Administrative Patent Judge, Beverly Bunting
Most days for an Administrative Patent Judge working in the Elijah McCoy Patent Office ("the Detroit Satellite Office") begin with an exhilarating run along the Detroit River front – well, wishful thinking. However, all are welcome to join the lunchtime Detroit Satellite Office group that walks daily along the Detroit River Walk.
The office itself is located within a group of historic buildings surrounding a courtyard repurposed for office and residential use. When the Detroit Satellite Office opened initially in July, 2012, the Administrative Patent Judges maintained offices in borrowed space from the Examining Corps. In July of 2014, the judges moved into our own, separate office suite. Most notable is the public hearing room – we are especially looking forward to conducting hearings in this state-of-the-art facility that seamlessly joins us with our panel colleagues and other hearing participants located in Alexandria or the other satellite locations.
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Detroit is the "Real McCoy"
In July 2012, Detroit welcomed the opening of the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office, which holds the distinction of being the first satellite office located outside of the Washington D.C. area. Appropriately, the Office is named after Elijah J. McCoy, who secured more than 50 patents over his lifetime. McCoy was born in Ontario, Canada to fugitive slaves, and his family moved to Michigan when McCoy was a young child. After an apprenticeship abroad, McCoy returned back to Michigan to work as a fireman, an oiler, and a designer in a home-based machine shop. He is best known for inventing an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines of locomotives and ships. Although others attempted to duplicate McCoy's invention, none held up to the original. Legend has it that railroad engineers specifically seeking McCoy's invention to avoid inferior copies of the device would ask, "Is it the real McCoy?"
Why locate a patent office in Detroit, an aging city recovering from bankruptcy? Simple—the people. Descended from Native Americans, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrants, and more recently transplanted southerners, their friendliness sets them apart from other areas of the country. In addition to being known for their friendliness and Midwestern values, Detroiters are also known for their grit and determination. Those who choose to stay here and those who choose to come here to live or work share an infectious excitement. Many embody the true entrepreneurial spirit of America and relish the opportunity to not just be a part of the status quo somewhere else, but to be ahead of the curve and to be a part of actually rebuilding a city to be better than it is.
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Administrative Patent Judge Forum
Ever wonder what it’s like to be an Administrative Patent Judge (APJ)? Our new APJ Forum provides insights, information and resources for potential candidates considering a position with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In our “Day in the Life as an Administrative Patent Judge” series, APJs from headquarters and our satellite offices around the country share their personal accounts of work-life balance, camaraderie and professional development.
"PTAB Collegiality: The Rule, Not the Exception"
Guest blog by Administrative Patent Judge Matt Clements
This March marks my one year anniversary since joining the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as an Administrative Patent Judge in the Silicon Valley satellite office. The transition from private practice to the Board has been welcome in many ways, but one of the most pleasant experiences has been the collegial atmosphere here.
The Board's cases are decided by three-judge panels. Unlike in private practice, where the most senior attorney may get the final word, each judge on a panel has an equal voice regardless of seniority. While the most senior judge often has very valuable input, (s)he cannot dictate that a change be made if the other panel members are not persuaded. As a result, even the most senior judges propose changes persuasively rather than issuing them as edicts. Such collegiality is the rule, not the exception. That collegiality is even more remarkable when one considers that so many of the judges come to the Board with decades of experience in private practice, in the USPTO, in the ITC, in the DOJ, or in other government agencies.
In the satellite offices, judges work exactly as we would if in Virginia. Same cases. Same panel members. We do see fewer colleagues face-to-face, but with many judges in Alexandria taking advantage of the USPTO's excellent telework options as featured in this FCW article from August 2013, conferences between judges occur primarily by phone anyway. When one of us has a hearing, we appear by videoconference in a Hearing Room in Alexandria.
Since I joined in March 2013, the Board has added thirteen judges, including three in Silicon Valley, which brings our office to nine judges. We recently secured permanent space in San Jose City Hall with room for 18 judges and a Hearing Room. If you are an experienced patent litigator with a desire to live in Silicon Valley, Denver, Dallas, Detroit, or Alexandria, I strongly encourage you to apply!
Judge Clements is an Administrative Patent Judge in the Silicon Valley satellite office.