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Thursday Feb 03, 2022

New PTAB resources for inventors

Blog by Drew Hirshfeld, Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, and Scott Boalick, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO

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Over the past year, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has gathered feedback from  across the intellectual property (IP) community through our many outreach events. One thing we heard repeatedly is that inventors want to learn more about the Board and what it does. So, to address this feedback, we acted by creating a number of new programs and resources dedicated to inventors, or anyone who is new to practice before the PTAB.

First, we developed and published a New to PTAB webpage focused on ex parte appeals and American Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings. This page features plain language descriptions and simplifies PTAB proceedings into distinct steps. The webpage also includes an instructional tool with helpful examples of how to prepare and file an ex parte appeal brief.

Next, we established a monthly Inventor Hour webinar on the last Thursday of every month. Each webinar features short segments on various aspects of PTAB practice such as proceeding basics, oral hearing protocols, and case studies. This allows inventors to get practical tips on a range of topics in a single hour. Each webinar also features an interview with an administrative patent judge or member of the PTAB administrative staff to get to know the Board members more personally, as well as an audience question-and-answer session. You can find past Inventor Hour webinars on the PTAB webpage.

Lastly, a recent Director’s blog on new economic relief programs announced that the PTAB will be launching a pro bono program to aid under-resourced inventors in obtaining free legal counsel to represent them in Board proceedings. The program will initially cover ex parte appeals and will later expand to include AIA proceedings. The PTAB Bar Association will serve as the clearinghouse for the program, matching pro bono requestors with volunteer attorneys. Much of the impetus for this new program came from feedback in the intellectual property community. We heard those of you who told us that such a program could benefit inventors, and we look forward to helping do just that. Stay tuned for more information, including eligibility criteria for the pro bono assistance, in the coming weeks.

We’re continually working on new ways to improve the services we provide to inventors. Your feedback on these programs and other ways in which the PTAB can continue to support inventors, is vital. Find out how to contact us and view our frequently asked questions by visiting the PTAB help and suggestions page, and sign up for our email alerts to stay informed about our initiatives.


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