Streamlined Procedure for Appeal Brief Review in Inter Partes
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is streamlining the procedure for the review of appeal briefs filed in inter partes reexamination proceeding appeals to increase the efficiency of the appellate process and to reduce the pendency of appeals. The Chief Judge of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) or his designee (collectively, ``Chief Judge''), will have the sole responsibility for determining whether appeal briefs filed in inter partes reexamination proceedings (i.e., appellant's briefs, respondent's briefs, and rebuttal briefs) comply with the applicable regulations, and will complete the determination before the appeal brief is forwarded to the examiner for consideration. The examiner will no longer review appeal briefs for compliance with the applicable regulations. The USPTO expects to achieve a reduction in inter partes reexamination proceeding appeal pendency as measured from the filing of a notice of appeal to the BPAI's docketing of the appeal by eliminating duplicate reviews by the examiner and the BPAI. The USPTO expects further reduction in pendency because the streamlined procedure will increase consistency in the determination, and thereby reduce the number of notices of noncompliant appeal briefs and non- substantive returns from the BPAI that require parties to file corrected appeal briefs in inter partes reexamination proceeding appeals.
Pilot Program for Waiver of Patent Owner's Statement in Ex Parte Reexamination Proceedings
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes the need to reduce the pendency of reexamination proceedings and improve the efficiency of the reexamination process. The USPTO is considering a number of short and long-range initiatives that can be implemented in three phases. In phase I, the USPTO will implement streamlined procedures, as well as optional programs in which patent owners and third party requesters may elect to participate in order to gain the benefit of shorter pendency. In phases II and III, the USPTO will consider the data gathered from phase I and the feedback from the patent owners and other stakeholders, and implement process changes that are likely to improve efficiency. Such changes may include internal procedural changes, rule making that includes opportunities for the public to comment, and/or administrative proposals for statutory changes to enhance the efficiency of the USPTO in conducting reexamination proceedings. As part of phase I to reduce pendency and improve efficiency in ex parte reexamination proceedings, the USPTO is implementing, in this notice, a pilot program in which patent owners may waive the right to file a patent owner's statement upon a request made by the USPTO. This will enable USPTO in suitable cases to issue the first Office action on the merits together with or soon after the reexamination order, and thereby reduce the pendency of the proceeding by about three to five months.