Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Tuesday Jul 14, 2015

USPTO Offering Expedited Patent Appeals

Guest Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Russ Slifer

The USPTO recently launched a new pilot program that will allow appellants with multiple ex parte appeals pending before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to expedite review of one appeal in return for withdrawing another appeal. This pilot program—a first for the PTAB—offers several advantages while being simple to use. 

The Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot is designed to allow appellants having multiple ex parte appeals currently pending to have greater control over the priority with which their appeals are decided. It also serves to reduce the backlog of appeals pending before the PTAB. Additionally, this pilot program will permit an appellant having multiple appeals pending to accelerate the PTAB’s decision on an appeal involving an invention of greater importance to the appellant.

Appeals to the PTAB are normally taken up for decision in the order in which they are docketed. The current average pendency of an ex parte appeal at the PTAB is approximately 30 months. An appeal that is accorded special status under the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot Program will be advanced out of turn for a decision on the appeal. The goal of the pilot is to render a decision on the appeal accorded special status no later than six months from the date of filing of the petition. Thus, participation in the pilot could save up to 2 years in wait time for a decision on an appeal.

Appellants wishing to participate in the pilot program need only make a certification and file a petition to the Chief Judge. We have waived the petition fee and provided a form-fillable PDF (Form PTO/SB/438) for use in filing the certification and petition. Although an application having no allowed claims becomes abandoned upon withdrawal of an appeal, applicants are permitted under the pilot program to file a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) in the application of the appeal sought to be withdrawn to continue prosecution and avoid abandonment of that application.

As well as the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot, the USPTO is working on other initiatives to reduce the ex parte appeal backlog, which the agency will release soon. The PTAB continues to hire administrative patent judges, patent attorneys, and paralegals. In addition, the PTAB is starting a law clerk fellowship pilot program and is identifying  further ways to provide more support to administrative patent judges to increase efficiency.

For more information about the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot and how to participate, please refer to the Federal Register and the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot section of the USPTO website.

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