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U.S. Patent Applicants Can Now Expedite Appeals Under New Pilot Program

July 6, 2020

The United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will now be accepting petitions for expedited resolution of ex parte appeals. The “Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program” launched July 2, 2020. Like the popular Track One prioritized examination program, this new program is intended to provide applicants with another opportunity to expedite prosecution.

To apply to the program, Applicants must pay the required petition fee of $400. And once in the program, oral hearings will be expedited and cannot be rescheduled or relocated. 

The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program is an extension of the highly popular Track One prioritized examination program. Now, in addition to expediting examination using the Track One program, patent applicants can also speed up the ex parte appeal process. Under the program, the PTAB will “endeavor to issue a decision on an ex parte appeal within six months from the date the appeal is entered into the program.” Currently, the standard appeal pendency is 15 months, on average, and may even take multiple years until a decision is issued. Thus, the new target to receive a decision within six months will be far faster than the standard appeal pendency.

The USPTO is currently offering the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program on a temporary basis. Petitions to request inclusion of an ex parte appeal in the Pilot Program will be accepted until 500 appeals have been accorded fast-track status under the program, or until July 2, 2021, whichever occurs earlier. The USPTO may choose to extend the program on either a temporary or permanent basis in the future.

The Track One program, initially created in 2011, has been very successful. In view of that program's popularity and high demand, in 2019 the USPTO increased the yearly number of requests that may be granted from 10,000 to 12,000. Given the success of the Track One program, and the typically long appeal pendency Applicants currently face, we expect the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program to be a great success. Fast-track decisions can hasten patentability determinations on new inventions and the pace at which products or services are brought to the marketplace, spurring innovation.

For additional information on the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, see the USPTO’s Federal Register Notice and the PTAB’s webpage.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Shannon Lentz
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2897
Deborah H. Yellin
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2947