Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Post-Grant Proceedings Under the America Invents Act - The 12 Month Rule

On May 15, 2012, Teresa Stanek Rea of the USPTO posted: Building a Better Post Grant on Director Kappo's Blog. She talks about how the USPTO plans to build a better post-grant proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA) that will serve as an efficient alternative to patent litigation. 

Ms. Stanek Rea states "Inter partes reexamination has not proven as efficient as was originally intended. It has taken an average of 32 to 38 months to move from filing to issuance of a final reexamination certificate. The time to a final determination within the USPTO is even longer, when you factor in appeals." Ms. Stanek Rea notes the AIA establishes post-grant review, inter partes review and the transitional program for covered business method patents by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (Board) which will be referred to as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Congress has limited the length of these post-grant proceedings to 12 months, plus six months for exceptional cases. To explain how the PTO will complete a post-grant proceedings in 12 months Ms. Stanek Rea states:

1. The PTO is adding many judges with considerable patent prosecution and litigation experience to the 120 judges currently on the Board.

2. The PTO's rule making will incorporate input from the user community, the PTO,  the federal court, the ITC,  and interferences.

3. The AIA's post-grant procedures rules will be streamlined to what is essential to decide the case. Thus, dilatory practices, wasteful motions, and procedural traps that drove older interferences to last 4-7 years will not be permitted.

4.  Judges will be given great latitude to shepherd cases to stay on schedule.

Although Ms. Stanek Rea envisions reaping the benefits of a straightforward process (e.g., a trial), implemented by experienced judges, resulting in a fair and efficient proceeding, the post doesn't address how the PTO will keep stay on such a tight schedule plus reduce the backlog of more than 30,000 ex parte appeals now pending.

Copyright © 2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.