Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) 

LEAP – Legal Experience and Advancement Program – Woman leaping between cliffs over lightbulbs

The USPTO is committed to fostering a strong and vital patent system.  The development of legal skills through practical experience allows advocates to effectively support and represent their clients’ interests.

The USPTO has developed and implemented the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) to provide training and oral advocacy opportunities for less experienced advocates to gain practical experience in proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).  Additionally, as part of the program, the PTAB may grant up to 15 minutes of additional argument time to parties that choose to participate, depending on the length of the proceeding and the PTAB’s hearing schedule.

 LEAP Brochure

Eligibility 

To qualify as a LEAP practitioner, a patent agent or attorney must have:

  1. three or fewer substantive oral arguments in any federal tribunal, including the PTAB, and 
  2. seven or fewer years of experience as a licensed attorney or agent.

LEAP participation requests 

To participate in LEAP, a practitioner must submit a Request and a Verification form to the PTAB, by email to PTABHearings@uspto.gov, at least five business days before the hearing.  

Submission of a combined LEAP Practitioner Request and Verification Form is preferred.  If a practitioner elects not to use this combined form, the information contained in the form must be provided in the practitioner’s alternate submissions.

Practitioners must not submit a request or verification form until the Board has assigned an oral hearing date for the proceeding in which LEAP participation is requested.  If a hearing date has not been assigned, the request will be denied as premature.

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Oral argument at the PTAB

 

Oral hearing 

A LEAP practitioner may conduct the entire oral argument or may share time with other counsel, provided that the LEAP practitioner is offered a meaningful and substantive opportunity to argue. It remains within the party’s discretion as to the type and quantity of oral argument that will be conducted by the LEAP practitioner. For example, a LEAP practitioner might present the party’s entire argument or might argue a more limited issue, e.g., claim construction arguments, motions to exclude evidence, or patentability arguments.

Assistance at oral hearing

Regardless of whether a LEAP practitioner conducts the argument in whole or in part, the PTAB will permit more experienced counsel to assist a LEAP practitioner, if necessary, during oral argument, and to clarify any statements on the record before the conclusion of the oral argument.  

 

Woman at podium in PTAB hearing room

 

LEAP preparation

The PTAB will offer training on oral advocacy, covering topics such as the use of demonstratives, effective use of hearing time, decorum, and logistics of an oral hearing. Training will be available free of charge and via webinar.

The PTAB also encourages LEAP practitioners to participate in other aspects of PTAB proceedings, including conference calls, pre-hearing conferences, and depositions.

 

Webinar training session

Time

Webinar information

Speakers

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

 

12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time

LEAP First Anniversary Event

Julie Mar-Spinola, Finjan

Kathi Vidal, Winston & Strawn LLP

Ian Soule, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.;

Lead Administrative Patent Judge Michelle Ankenbrand, USPTO PTAB

Monday, April 5, 20211 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern TimeThe "Perfect" Oral ArgumentTodd R. Walters, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
Friday, March 26, 20211 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern TimeEx parte Appeals Mock Argument PracticumTBD
Friday, March 19, 2021

 

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time

Preparing and Presenting at PTAB

W. Karl Renner, Fish & Richardson

Erin M. Dunston, Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel

LEAP frequently asked questions

 

Select LEAP press

Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership, PTAB launches the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) for the next generation of patent practitioners (April 28, 2020)

Law360, IP Firms Cheer PTAB Program Giving New Attys Opportunities (April 29, 2020)

Next Generation Lawyers, The Patent Trial and Appeal Board LEAPs Into the Future (April 29, 2020)

National Law Review, LEAP Eligible Practitioners Try Their Hand at Oral Advocacy in LEAP Mock Arguments before the PTAB (August 26, 2020)

Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership, Legal Experience and Advancement Program conducts virtual mock arguments (October 15, 2020)

Mondaq, PTAB Holds Mock Oral Arguments For LEAP Attorneys (November 2, 2020)

Law360, PTAB Judge Encourages Junior Attys To Ask For Help In Args (May 18, 2021)

Other USPTO resources for those new to PTAB

  • New to PTAB toolkit (information about the basics of PTAB appeal and AIA trial proceedings)
  • Expanding Innovation Toolkit (information about the patent system, mentoring programs, and community groups focused on innovation and intellectual property)

Questions?

For questions about LEAP, please contact: