Anne Gilson LaLonde on the TTAB Accelerated Case Resolution Procedure (ACR)

Accelerated Case Resolution (ACR) is the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's new method for resolving cases expeditiously. It's a voluntary procedure in which the Board promises to decide the case in fifty days based on summary judgment-like submissions from the parties. In fact, the Board is requiring parties to discuss this streamlining option in their discovery/settlement conference. In this commentary, Anne Gilson LaLonde writes:
ACR offers … a path to a speedy Board decision without pretrial disclosures or testimony depositions, and with less extensive discovery. Introduced in the USPTO’s 2007-2012 Strategic Plan, ACR is similar to a stipulated summary judgment motion, but with a twist: In order for parties to use the ACR option, they must stipulate that the Board can resolve any disputed issues of material fact (such as likelihood of confusion) instead of holding a full trial on the merits.
     Parties opting for ACR complete whatever discovery they deem necessary and then file their briefs, which may include attached evidence such as written disclosures and disclosed documents. They may also stipulate to facts that the Board will consider in making its determination. After the briefs are filed, the Board will issue a decision on the merits within fifty days and will resolve any disputed issues of material fact.
     ACR would be most useful for a case in which the parties can stipulate to a majority of the facts so that they will not have to rely upon the Board to resolve multiple issues. ACR may also be useful in a case in which each party expects to use only one or two witnesses and the record will be relatively small. In such a case, the Board’s panel of administrative law judges will not have to sift through a voluminous record in a short amount of time in order to make its decision. Similarly, where the main dispute is over an issue of law rather than of fact, ACR may also be the most efficient and advantageous way to proceed.