USPTO Launches Pilot Program for Fast-Track Appeals in Limited Number of Ex Parte Cases

July 20, 2020Alerts

Recognizing that patent appellants sometimes need a quick ruling in ex parte cases, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is now expediting up to 500 appeals per year in its newly created Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program.

Appeals to the PTAB are typically addressed in the order in which they are docketed. As of July 2, 2020, the new Fast-Track Program provides a mechanism for appellants to request that their appeals be advanced out of turn under certain circumstances. The program aims to have the appeal process completed within six months from the date an appeal is accepted into the program.

To be eligible for the Fast-Track Program, the appeal must pertain to an original utility, design, or plant non-provisional application. The appeal must also be pending before the PTAB, meaning that a Notice of Appeal must have been filed and a PTAB docketing notice must have already been received in order to petition for expedited review.

If an appeal meets those qualifications, an appellant may petition to proceed under the Fast-Track Program. A $400 fee is due at the time the petition is filed.

The USPTO announced that it will grant a maximum of 500 petitions per fiscal year, or 125 per quarter, as part of the pilot program, which will last for one year or until 500 petitions for fast-track review have been granted. The USPTO may extend, permanently implement or discontinue the program after July 2, 2021.

* Luciana Sena was a summer associate in Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh office in June and July 2020 after completing her second year at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.