Preliminary Guidance More Hinderance Than Help
Patent Owner’s rarely seek to amend claims during PTAB trials. This is because, as most such patents are being simultaneously litigated, amendment introduces a host of complications — not the least of which is creating an intervening rights defense for the patent challenger. This is why amendments are historically seen in about 5-7% of PTAB trials.
For the rare Patent Owner that is inclined to amend, the PTAB offers an Amendment Pilot Program. The Pilot is designed to help Patent Owner refine their amendment positions with two opportunities to amend (non-pilot route permits one amendment submission). Under the Pilot, the Patent Owner can also request the panel’s preliminary assessment (i.e., Preliminary Guidance) of its initial amendment to assist in refining the final amendment submission.
But, practically speaking, Preliminary Guidance is a significant gamble for Patent Owners that is rarely worth taking. And as the Federal Circuit pointed out earlier this week, even when seemingly helpful, it may still prove ultimately unhelpful.