1. When submitting an email request to participate in LEAP, is a certain format or content required?
To request LEAP participation, please complete a LEAP Practitioner Request for Oral Hearing Participation and Verification Form, available at the LEAP website, www.uspto.gov/leap. The Verification Form requires a LEAP practitioner to affirm their eligibility for the program, and must include the LEAP practitioner’s name, email, telephone, firm name (if applicable), address, scheduled hearing date, and signature. The Request for Oral Hearing Participation must include the scheduled hearing date, the requester’s name, email, telephone, firm (if applicable), address, and signature.
2. How can I obtain a LEAP Practitioner Request for Oral Hearing Participation and Verification Form?
Please visit the LEAP website, www.uspto.gov/leap, to obtain a LEAP Practitioner Request for Oral Hearing Participation and Verification Form.
3. Where should I file a LEAP Practitioner Request for Oral Hearing Participation and Verification Form?
Please return your completed Verification Form and Request for Oral Hearing Participation to PTABHearings@uspto.gov.
4. How long is a LEAP Verification Form and Request for Oral Hearing Participation valid, or must a new Form and Request be submitted for each requested LEAP argument?
A LEAP Practitioner Request for Oral Hearing Participation and Verification Form must be completed for each individual proceeding in which LEAP participation is desired. A practitioner remains eligible for LEAP so long as they have seven or fewer years of experience and three or fewer prior substantive oral arguments. Requiring a new Request and Verification Form for each proceeding aims to ensure the practitioner confirms their eligibility and continues to meet these requirements.
5. May I request additional oral argument time in an AIA proceeding if the opposing party has a LEAP practitioner involved in the oral hearing, but I do not?
The purpose of LEAP is to encourage parties to utilize the skills of practitioners without extensive oral advocacy experience. If a party does not have an eligible LEAP practitioner, then this program is not available to that party, and additional oral argument time may not be requested on that basis. However, at the start of the oral hearing, any party may inform the panel of judges if there are issues that the party believes require additional oral argument time, beyond the amount previously allocated.
6. At what point in the proceeding are the eligibility requirements assessed and required to be satisfied for a practitioner to qualify—e.g., at the time the LEAP request is submitted or at the time of the hearing?
A practitioner must meet the eligibility requirements as assessed on the date of the LEAP request.
7. Is there a minimum amount of time for which the LEAP practitioner must speak in order to receive the extra 15 minutes of argument time?
No, there is no minimum amount of time for which a LEAP practitioner must speak to receive the additional 15 minutes of argument time, so long as the LEAP practitioner has a substantive role in the argument. It is up to the party to decide how to apportion the argument time between the LEAP practitioner and other counsel.
8. When should a practitioner submit a LEAP request?
A practitioner may submit a LEAP request after the date for oral hearing has been set. If a practitioner submits a LEAP request before the hearing date is set, then the Board will decline the request as premature and ask the practitioner to resubmit the request once a hearing date is available.
9. Can a LEAP practitioner participate in an oral hearing for an appeal that is part of the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program?
Yes, LEAP practitioners may argue at hearings for appeals that are part of the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program.