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In a March Federal Register Notice, the
USPTO outlined a new procedure for eliminating redundant appeal processing
in patent applications. The redundancy was the result of both
the examiner and BPAI performing the same review as to whether or not an
Appeal Brief was compliant with the rules. Often times this led to the examiner
accepting a non-compliant brief only to have the Board kick it back to
applicant months or even years later for a previously overlooked informality.
Likewise, some complained of examiners abusing the non-compliance notice as a
way to avoid answering appeal briefs. The notice of March outlined a new
mechanism by which the Chief
Judge would be solely responsible for determining brief compliance prior to
Examiner review. At the end of this notice, the USPTO pointed out that ex parte and inter partes patent
reexamination appeals were not subject to the new mechanism, but the Office was
considering such treatment in the future.
Yesterday, the same
mechanism was noticed in the Federal Register for ex parte patent reexamination appeals. A
notice relative to inter
partes is expected in the near future. These improvements should
help avoid some of the more aggravating delays experienced on appeal to
the BPAI. Of course, with a significant, and growing appeal backlog, any
impact of this change may be offset by sheer numbers.
View more information at Patents Post-Grant