On March 27, 2015, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) Director Michelle Lee announced on the agency’s website that a three-phase rule change for improving Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) trial proceedings is in the works. While the first rule package will be finalized later this spring, judges will implement some “quick fixes” through scheduling orders effective immediately. These “quick fixes” include an increase in the number of pages a patent owner can submit to support a motion to amend. Also included is an increase in the number of pages a petitioner can submit in a reply brief to respond to a patent owner’s response. In both cases, the 15 page limit is being increased to 25 pages.
The USPTO will propose the second rule package later this summer, and the public will have the opportunity to comment before the rules are finalized. These rule changes are expected to include modifications to the motion to amend process, and adjustments to the evidence a patent owner can provide in a preliminary response.
Michelle Lee said that the USPTO is also considering changes to the Trial Practice Guide, which provides the general framework for AIA reviews. Such changes are expected to include increasing the availability of live testimony in PTAB proceedings.
Director Lee’s announcement is available here.