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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced a Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program to allow an Appellant to have an ex parte appeal advanced out of turn. The effective date of the program is July 2, 2020. The target is to have a decision on the appeal within six months of entry into the program.

To qualify, an Appellant must satisfy four conditions:

  1. The application must be an original utility, design or plant non-provisional application.
  2. The request for fast-track status must be for an ex-parte appeal for which a notice of appeal has been filed and a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) docketing notice has been issued by the USPTO.
  3. The Appellant must file a petition under 37 C.F.R. § 41.3. (See Form PTO/SB/451)
  4. Finally, a $400 fee must be paid.

The USPTO has limited the number of granted petitions to 125 per quarter for the duration of the program, which is expected to run for one year. Appellants are encouraged to monitor the number of petitions granted.  A denied request for inclusion in the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program will not result in a refundable fee. The $400 fee is not discounted for small and micro entities. 

Appeals included in the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program are eligible for oral hearings. A request to reschedule an oral hearing will be denied. An Appellant who must reschedule the oral hearing will need to opt out of the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program.

Click here to see a copy of the Federal Register notice.