The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched a new pilot program to speed up ex parte appeals to the Patent and Litigation Appeals Committee (PTAB). While ex parte appeals to the PTAB are usually decided in the order in which they were submitted, the complainants can override their appeals with this new fast track appeals pilot program. Petitions for accelerated appeals with the required $ 400 fee will be accepted as of July 2, 2020.
The pilot program will be temporarily adopted for a period of one year and evaluated at the end of that period to determine whether the program should be permanently adopted, extended or discontinued after July 2, 2021. The USPTO will do so, at least consider the impact of other remedies on pending when deciding whether to change or end the pilot program.
The Fast-Track Appeals pilot program is intended to complement the existing Track One prioritized examination program, which already enables applicants to receive an accelerated examination of a patent application for an additional fee. The Track One program attempts to make a final decision on an application within 12 months of priority status and has proven popular with patent applicants. Given the popularity of the Track One program, the USPTO decided to adopt an accelerated appeal program to PTAB to further speed up patentability provisions for new inventions.
The USPTO believes that complaints reviewed under the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot program will be resolved within six months of the date of submission of a petition. Currently, the average time to make an ex parte decision is approximately fourteen months. Announcing the new pilot program, USPTO director Andrei Iancu said: “For the first time in the history of the USPTO, applicants can speed up patent exams and ex-parte appeals, making decisions about their key inventions in a typical time in about half the time Application. "
First, the number of accelerated ex parte complaints is limited to a maximum of 500 complaints per financial year during the one-year duration of the program. In addition, oral hearings scheduled under the program will also be accelerated and cannot be postponed.
The hope is that the use of this Fast Track Appeals pilot will help accelerate the pace at which products with new inventions are brought to market, stimulating economic growth and promoting follow-up innovations. Therefore, innovators filing patent applications that are particularly valuable and ready for commercialization should strongly consider using both the Track One prioritized review and the new Fast Track Opposition pilot program when needed.