The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched a pilot program that allows expedited prosecution of ex parte appeals.
According to the USPTO website,
Under the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, appellants can have their ex parte appeals advanced out of turn. Appellants simply file a petition to request a fast-track review of their ex parte appeal and pay a $400 petition fee. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) has set a target of issuing a decision within six months from the date the petition is granted and the ex parte appeal is entered into the pilot program.
The program is effective as of July 2 and is expected to run for one year. Only 125 petitions per quarter will normally be granted fast-track status, but the USPTO may exercise its discretion and grant a few more.
To be eligible, the applicant must pay the fee and the application must meet the following requirements:
- The application must be an original utility, design, or plant nonprovisional application.
- The appeal for fast-track status must be an ex parte appeal for which a notice of appeal has been filed and a PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) docketing notice has been issued by the USPTO (i.e., the appeal is pending before the PTAB).
- The appellant must file a petition under 37 CFR 41.3 via the USPTO’s electronic filing system identifying the application and appeal by application number and appeal number, respectively, for which fast-track review is sought.
Hearings of appeals are being conducted by telephone, due to the pandemic.
The normal wait time for appeals is about 15 months, and appeals can take several years, so this should be a significant improvement.
More information is in the Federal Register.
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