[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 130 (Monday, July 12, 2021)]
[Pages 36530-36531]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-14615]



United States Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2020-0027]

Extension of the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of 

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is 
extending the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, initiated on July 2, 
2020, which provides for the advancement of applications out of their 
turn in the ex parte appeals phase of patent prosecution before the 
Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board). The Fast-Track Appeals 
Pilot Program permits an appellant who has filed an ex parte appeal and 
received a notice that the appeal has been docketed to file a petition 
to expedite the review of the appeal. The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot 
Program sets a target of reaching a decision on an ex parte appeal 
within six months from the date that the appeal is entered into the 

    Applicable Date: July 12, 2021.
    Duration: The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program will run until July 
2, 2022. The USPTO may extend the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program 
(with or without modification) on either a temporary or a permanent 
basis, or may discontinue the program after that date.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven Bartlett, PTAB, by telephone at 
571-272-9797 or by email at [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Appeals to the Board are normally taken up 
for decision in the order in which they are docketed. See USPTO 
Standard Operating Procedure 1, Assignment of judges to panels (Sept. 
20, 2018), available at www.uspto.gov/patents/ptab/resources. 
Currently, the average appeal pendency is about 13 months, down from 15 
months in 2020, and from 30 months in 2015. See the PTAB statistics 
available at www.uspto.gov/patents/ptab/statistics. However, a small 
number of appeals are advanced out of turn due to a special status 
reflecting, for example, that the appealed case is a reissue 
application or a reexamination proceeding, or in light of an inventor's 
advanced age or poor health.
    On July 2, 2020, the PTAB adopted, on a temporary basis, the Fast-
Track Appeals Pilot Program, under which an appellant may have an ex 
parte appeal to the Board advanced out of turn by filing a petition 
under 37 CFR 41.3, accompanied by the petition fee set forth in 37 CFR 
41.20(a). See Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program, 85 FR 39888 (July 2, 
2020) (Fast-Track Notice). The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program permits 
an appellant to accelerate the Board's decision on an ex parte appeal, 
hastening the pace at which patentability determinations are made and 
products or services embodying those patented inventions are brought to 
the marketplace, and thus spurring follow-on innovation, economic 
growth, and job creation. The USPTO provides a form for the Fast-Track 
petition, Form PTO/SB/451, which is available on the USPTO's website at 
    The Fast-Track Notice required, inter alia, that a petition be 
filed before July 2, 2021, to participate in the program. The Fast-
Track Notice also set a maximum number of 500 appeals that may be 
advanced through Fast-Track petitions.
    The Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program is hereby extended to accept 
petitions for advancing out of turn (according ``Fast-Track status'' 
to) ex parte appeals through July 2, 2022. The requirements for the 
program remain the same as those set forth in the original notice (see 
Fast-Track Notice, 85 FR 39888), with the following modification 
regarding the petition limit.
    The upper limit of 500 total granted Fast-Track petitions, as set 
forth in the Fast-Track Notice, is no longer applicable. To maintain 
the Board's ability to provide a faster appeal option while timely 
resolving other appeals, however, the number of granted petitions in 
the Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program remains limited to 125 granted 
petitions per quarter. If a quarterly limit

[[Page 36531]]

is reached, the PTAB retains the flexibility to accept additional 
petitions, either for consideration in that quarter or to be held in 
abeyance for consideration in the next quarter.
    The USPTO tracks the number of granted petitions, the average time 
to answer petitions, and the average time to render a Board decision on 
the merits of the ex parte appeal after a petition grant. Current 
information and statistics may be viewed on the PTAB website at 

Andrew Hirshfeld,
Commissioner for Patents, Performing the Functions and Duties of the 
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2021-14615 Filed 7-9-21; 8:45 am]