New PTAB Pilot to Allow Flexibility in Appeal Priority
Starting Friday, June 19th, the PTAB will begin a new pilot program to allow appellants with multiple ex parte appeals pending before the Board to expedite review of one appeal in return for withdrawing another appeal. The stated purpose of the Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot is to allow appellants with multiple ex parte appeals (i.e., large patent filers) pending to have greater control over the priority with which their appeals are decided and reduce the backlog of appeals pending before the Board.
Appellants wishing to participate in the pilot program
Given the requirement that the appeals have to be docketed by the Board (i.e., have been through a long briefing process), I would not expect this program to make much of a dent in the backlog. Now if you could unplug appeals that are not yet docketed (providing a longer term reduction in the backlog) you would get more than a few takers. However, that would not provide immediate relief to the the Board’s docket. Once an appeal is docketed at the Board, an applicant has already waited 12-18 months, or longer. The ability to withdraw the appeal (e.g., file an RCE) has always been a possibility (for non-reexam appeals). As such, I just don’t see much motivation to pull a long-standing appeal effort that is now on the Board’s docket just to juice another forward by a handful of months.
In any event, the Board is trying to reduce the backlog in any way that it can, and that is a good thing.