We are pleased to announce a second pilot program that will allow small or micro entity appellants with only a single ex parte appeal pending before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) as of September 18, 2015, to expedite review of that appeal in return for agreeing to streamline the appeal. Specifically, the appeal must not involve any claim subject to a rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 112, and the appellant must agree to the disposition of all claims subject to each ground of rejection as a single group and waive any request for an oral hearing. The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will allow small or micro entity appellants who streamline their appeals to have greater control over the priority with which their appeals are decided. The streamlining of appeals under this pilot will also assist the Board to more efficiently reduce the overall inventory of appeals pending before the Board.
Appeals to the Board are normally taken up for decision in the order in which they are docketed. The current average pendency of an appeal at the PTAB is approximately 30 months. The USPTO recently adopted the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot, under which an appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Board in an application accorded special status if the appellant withdraws the appeal in another application or ex parte reexamination with an ex parte appeal also pending before the Board. See Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot, 80 Fed. Reg. 34145 (June 15, 2015). The USPTO is now adopting, on a temporary basis, the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities, under which a small or micro entity appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Board accorded special status if the appellant has only a single appeal pending before the Board as of September 18, 2015, and the appellant agrees to streamline the appeal.
An appeal that is accorded special status under the Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will be advanced out of turn for a decision on the appeal by the Board. The goal of the pilot program is for the PTAB to render a decision on the appeal accorded special status no later than six months from the date of filing of the petition. The Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities will permit small or micro entity appellants to accelerate the Board decision on an appeal, possibly hastening the pace at which the invention is patented and products or services embodying the patent are brought to the marketplace, and thus spurring follow-on innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
Appellants wishing to participate in the pilot program need only make a certification and file a petition to the Chief Judge under 37 C.F.R. § 41.3. We have waived the petition fee and provided a form-fillable PDF (Form PTO/SB/441) for use in filing the certification and petition. The appeal to be made special must be the appellant’s only appeal pending before the Board as of September 18, 2015, and the appeal to be made special must have been docketed with the PTAB on or before September 18, 2015.
For more information about the pilot program and how to participate, please refer to the Federal Register notice at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-15/pdf/2015-23090.pdf