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USPTO Introduces Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot

July 17, 2015 – The USPTO is providing a temporary basis under which an appellant may have an ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) accorded special status if the appellant withdraws (w/o refund) the appeal in another application in which an ex parte appeal is also pending before the Board. A Petition is needed but no fee. The Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot will allow appellants having multiple ex parte appeals currently pending before the Board to have greater control over the priority with which their appeals are decided and reduce the backlog of appeals pending before the Board. The USPTO goal is to provide a decision on the Petition within 2 months and then a Decision on the expedited appeal within 4 months after that (so 6 months total). The current average appeal pendency, by Group is:

1600 ................................ 32.5
1700 ................................ 24.7
2100 ................................ 32.0
2400 ................................ 32.0
2600 ................................ 31.7
2800 ................................ 26.9
2900 ................................ 26.1
3600 ................................ 31.7
3700 ................................ 29.9

Note that you do not have to abandon the case in which you withdraw the appeal, i.e., you can instead file an RCE. The case requested for expediting and the case withdrawn must both have been docketed to Board by June 19, 2015. You cannot request an oral hearing for the expedited appeal or you must withdraw (w/o refund) an oral hearing request if it was already made. If your appeal has already been pending a while, it probably does not help to expedite it in this way. But if you have a recently filed appeal that you want expedited and another case already on appeal of less importance or that does not need an early decision, you may want to take advantage of this possibility. The program will only be open until 2000 appeals have been made special by it or until June 20, 2016, whichever occurs first.

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