LEAP Program Launches 5/15
Today, the USPTO officially launched the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP). LEAP is designed to foster development of the next generation of patent practitioners by creating opportunities to gain the proper skills and experience in oral arguments before the Board. The USPTO explains that it understands “stand up” speaking opportunities before tribunals are limited and that gaining courtroom experience is advantageous for practitioners in their career development.
A LEAP practitioner is defined as someone who is new to the practice of law or new to practice before the PTAB. To qualify as a LEAP practitioner, a patent agent or attorney must have three or fewer substantive oral arguments in any federal tribunal, including PTAB, and seven or fewer years of experience as a licensed attorney or agent.
In exchange for giving a LEAP practitioner the opportunity to present argument as part of the program, the Board will grant additional argument time to the party, typically up to fifteen minutes depending on the length of the proceeding and the PTAB’s hearing schedule. The extra argument time is intended to incentivize appellants and parties to support LEAP practitioners. This plays a key role in helping the USPTO achieve its goal of offering legal experience and advancement to a diverse group of practitioners.
For an appeal, an appellant should send an email to PTABHearings@uspto.gov at least five business days before the hearing. Similarly, for an AIA proceeding, a party should send an email to Trials@uspto.gov at least five business days before the hearing. The program becomes effective on May 15, 2020, and LEAP practitioners may begin filing requests to participate in this program starting on that day.