Expanding Opportunities To Appear Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
In this request for comments, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) seeks public input on the requirements to practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board). The Office seeks to ensure quality representation in PTAB proceedings under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) without creating undue restrictions or barriers to entry for practitioners wishing to appear before the PTAB. The Office's goal is to expand the admission criteria to practice before the PTAB so more Americans, including those from traditionally under-represented and under-resourced communities, can participate in Office practice, while maintaining the Office's high standards necessary for the issuance and maintenance of robust and reliable intellectual property rights.
Expanding Admission Criteria for Registration To Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office
This request for comments seeks public input on the scientific and technical requirements to practice in patent matters before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office). Specifically, the Office seeks input on whether it should revise the scientific and technical criteria for admission to practice in patent matters to require the USPTO to periodically review certain applicant degrees on a predetermined timeframe, and make certain modifications to the accreditation requirement for computer science degrees. This request for comments also seeks input on whether the creation of a separate design patent practitioner bar would be beneficial to the public and the Office, whether to add clarifying instructions to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (GRB) for limited recognition applicants, and whether the Office should make any additional updates to the scientific and technical requirements for admission to practice in patent matters. The USPTO is undertaking this effort as part of its continual review of the admission criteria for sitting for the registration examination.
Changes To Implement Provisions of the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020; Delay of Effective Date and Correction
On November 17, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) published in the Federal Register a final rule amending its regulations to implement provisions of the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA). This action changes the effective date for the regulations published in the November 17, 2021, final rule that established new Office action response periods and set fees for requests to extend Office action response deadlines. This action resets the effective date for responses and extensions from December 1, 2022, to December 3, 2022, in the examination of applications, and from December 1, 2022, to October 7, 2023, in the examination of post- registration filings.
International Trademark Classification Changes
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues this final rule to incorporate classification changes adopted by the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (Nice Agreement). These changes are listed in the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (Nice Classification), which is published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and will become effective on January 1, 2023.
Request for Comments on USPTO Initiatives To Ensure the Robustness and Reliability of Patent Rights
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) seeks initial public comments on proposed initiatives directed at bolstering the robustness and reliability of patents to incentivize and protect new and nonobvious inventions while facilitating the broader dissemination of public knowledge to promote innovation and competition. This request for comments (RFC) addresses a variety of topics, including prior art searching, support for claimed subject matter, request for continued examination (RCE) practice, and restriction practice, and certain initiatives related to these topics that are outlined in the USPTO's July 6, 2022, letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This RFC also seeks comments on the questions set forth in a June 8, 2022, letter to the USPTO from six United States Senators. The USPTO is studying additional topics and initiatives to bolster the robustness and reliability of U.S. patents and will seek public comments on those separately.
Extension of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Motion To Amend Pilot Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is extending the Motion to Amend (MTA) Pilot Program, initiated on March 15, 2019, and first extended on September 16, 2021. The MTA Pilot Program provides additional options for a patent owner who files an MTA in an America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceeding before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In particular, the program provides a patent owner who files an MTA with options to request preliminary guidance from the PTAB on the MTA and to file a revised MTA. The MTA Pilot Program also provides timelines for briefing to accommodate these options.
Extension of the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is extending the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, initiated on July 2, 2020, and previously extended on July 12, 2021. The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program permits appellants with a docketed ex parte appeal before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) to file a petition to expedite the review of the appeal. The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program sets a target of reaching decisions on ex parte appeals within six months from the date they enter the program.