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Global Intellectual Property Academy Advanced Patents Program. Kery Fries, Senior Legal Advisor Mark Polutta, Senior Legal Advisor Office of Patent Legal Administration. PRE-APPEAL BRIEF CONFERENCE PRACTICE. 1296 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 67 (July 12, 2005)

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global intellectual property academy advanced patents program

Global Intellectual Property Academy Advanced Patents Program

Kery Fries, Senior Legal Advisor

Mark Polutta, Senior Legal Advisor

Office of Patent Legal Administration

pre appeal brief conference practice

PRE-APPEAL BRIEF CONFERENCE PRACTICE

1296 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 67 (July 12, 2005)

1303 Off. Gaz. Pat Office 21 (February 7, 2006)

OVERVIEW & TIPS FOR PRACTICE

appeals process
Appeals Process
  • Notice of Appeal
  • Pre-Appeal Brief Request (Optional)
  • Appeal Brief
  • Appeal Conference
  • Examiner’s Answer
  • Board of Appeals
pilot program
Pilot Program:

Request a

Pre-Appeal Brief Conference

With a

Notice of Appeal

pre appeal conference
Pre-Appeal Conference
  • Background
    • 21st Century Strategic Plan – Quality
    • Approximately 60% of all appealed cases are “not” forwarded to BPAI
  • Action Plan
    • Review to determine whether Appeal is warranted
why this pilot program
Why This Pilot Program?
  • TC’s already provide appeal conferences after the submission of an Appeal Brief
  • Over half of the appeal conferences result in allowance or reopening of prosecution
  • Thus, this pre-brief review procedure may eliminate, or reduce, the time and expense to prepare an Appeal Brief and expedite the prosecution process.
goals
Goals
  • Avoid Filing Appeal Brief When You Can:
  • Or, Alternatively, Reduce Size and Cost of An Appeal Brief
    • Identify clearly improper rejections because of factual errors
    • Identify clear absence of prima facie case
    • Narrow focus to true issues in controversy
who can use this procedure
Who Can Use This Procedure?

Anyone who is filing a

Notice of Appeal

(except under patent reexamination)

WHEN Can It Be Requested?

ONLY WITH the Notice of Appeal

should you request a pre brief conference
Should You Request a Pre-Brief Conference?
  • Yes – IF all or some of the rejections of record
    • Are CLEARLY improper and without basis
    • Are CLEARLY based on factual or legal error
  • No – IF the rejections of record
    • Articulate a prima facie case that requires further evidence, or interpretation of the claims; of the applied art; or of other evidence, to rebut
how to potentially avoid even needing this procedure
How To Potentially Avoid Even Needing This Procedure

Request Reconsideration

of the Final Rejection

Clearly Show the Errors

To the Examiner in an

After Final Communication

Before Filing Notice of Appeal

what if you believe that some rejections are appropriate for appeal but some are not
What If You Believe That Some Rejections Are Appropriate for Appeal But Some Are Not?

You may narrow the focus of the conference to claims you select as having clearly erroneous rejections.

However, consider beginning preparation of an Appeal Brief for the claims unselected for conference early on.

Request Pre-Brief Appeal Conference on Selected Rejections

what if you do not include a request with a notice of appeal
What If You Do Not Include A Request With A Notice of Appeal?

A request for a Pre-Brief Conference submitted before or after the notice of appeal will be dismissed as untimely

what is the fee
What is the Fee?

At present, there is no fee for the request.

The fee for the Notice of Appeal remains.

The fee for the Notice of Appeal is non-refundable, even in the event of a favorable outcome from the Pre-Appeal Brief conference.

is there a pto form
Is There a PTO Form?

It is suggested, but not required,

that you use the PTO Form

PTO/SB/33

PRE-APPEAL BRIEF REQUEST FOR REVIEW

On the www.uspto.gov web site

Go to Index and select Forms to access the Forms page

what do you provide
What Do You Provide?
  • Written Request
    • Preferably, use the USPTO Form PTO/SB/33
      • Otherwise, label a request as “Pre-Appeal Brief Request For Review”
    • Must be filed with the Notice of Appeal
  • Arguments
    • Not more than five (5) pages, excluding the cover request form
    • Succinct, Concise & Focused
    • Identification of CLEAR ERRORS
what does the uspto do
What Does the USPTO Do?
  • Technology Center (TC) convenes a panel
    • TC managers and conferees experienced in the pertinent field of technology
    • Includes a SPE and examiner of record
  • Panel reviews rejections identified by request, arguments submitted with the request, and application file
  • Panel decides if an issue for appeal is present
what should arguments contain
What Should Arguments Contain?

Omissions of element essential for a prima facie case in Examiner’s Rejection

Clear Errors in Examiner’s Rejection

And/Or

what should arguments contain1
What Should Arguments Contain?

Examples --

Reference’s date is clearly not an anticipatory date

No motivational statement is provided in a 103 rejection

A claim element that is clearly not present in applied art is not included in the examiner’s analysis

No evidentiary basis for a 103 motivation is provided in the rejection

Support in the disclosure is clearly found contrary to a 112(1) rejection

Inventive entity is clearly not one to which reference can be applied

what should argument not contain
What Should Argument NOT Contain?

Examples of what NOT to argue because the panel will consider it more appropriate for consideration during appeal --

Reference’s construction of terms differs from claims

Secondary considerations or teaching away in 103 rejections

A claim element is not in applied art although the examiner has shown where it is so asserted to be in the rejection

Unseasonable traversal of evidence by administrative notice

Characteristics of POSITA* rendering 103 improper

Dictionary definitions of terms at odds with rejection

*Person of Ordinary Skill In The Art

tip arguments
TIP – Arguments
  • Make your case clear and concise
    • Argument should demonstrate that something is clearly erroneous or there is an omission of something essential
    • A subtle legal brief is not helpful – make it painfully obvious where the error or omission is
    • Use your five page allowance creatively with diagrams, pictures, charts
tip arguments1
TIP – Arguments
  • Use diagrams or figures to demonstrate where the problem lies
    • Copy a claim at issue and draw a box around an element for which no art is applied with a caption “no art applied to this”
    • Embed a copy of a 103 rejection and put in big bold letters “No motivation” or “No evidence of motivation” with an arrow pointing to the rejection
tip arguments2
TIP – Arguments
  • Use diagrams or figures to demonstrate where the problem lies
    • Draw time lines to demonstrate why an applied reference is unqualified as prior art because of dates
    • Where the error is clearly counter to the MPEP, copy the portion of the MPEP (available at www.uspto.gov) in big, bold type that makes your point
panel s decision
Panel’s Decision
  • Decision will relate claims’ status and simply state one of the following:
    • Application remains under appeal
    • Prosecution is reopened
    • Application is allowed
    • Request is noncompliant and is dismissed

No analysis will accompany the decision – appellant provides analysis and conferees agree or disagree

when will the decision be mailed
When Will The Decision Be Mailed?

Generally, decisions will be made and mailed within 45 days of receiving the request.

what do you do if application remains under appeal after decision or if request is dismissed
What Do You Do If Application Remains Under Appeal After Decision, or If Request is Dismissed?
  • Proceed by filing an appeal brief
    • There is no request for reconsideration practice because the appeal process remains in effect and presents the next level of consideration
  • File RCE or Continuation
  • Abandon
how long do you have to file appeal brief following decision
How Long Do You Have To File Appeal Brief Following Decision?
  • You Have the Longer of
    • Time Remaining From Notice of Appeal

OR

    • One Month From Mailing of Decision

Usual time extensions may be obtained by fee

what if one month is insufficient to file appeal brief following decision
What If One Month Is Insufficient To File Appeal Brief Following Decision?

If One Month Will Be Insufficient To Prepare An Appeal Brief, Consider Whether the Complexity of the Issues Really Does Require BPAI Level Consideration.

You may obtain extensions of time with fee.

how long will this procedure be in effect
How Long Will This Procedure Be In Effect

The procedure is under pilot study beginning July, 2005

It will be re-evaluated at the termination of the pilot study.

can a conference be requested with any notice of appeal
Can A Conference Be Requested With Any Notice of Appeal?

The procedure may be requested with any Notice of Appeal EXCEPT those for reexamination proceedings.

what if you want to enter an amendment after final
What If You Want to Enter an Amendment After Final?

Amendments and Affidavits with or after Notice of Appeal Terminate Any Pre-Appeal Brief Conference Proceedings.

what if you want to enter some other action after a request
What If You Want to Enter Some Other Action After A Request?

Any RCE, continuation, or abandonment,

any Appeal Brief, any amendment,

any affidavit, or any other form of evidence, submitted after making a request for a pre-appeal brief conference, will cause the request to be dismissed.

An IDS having no bearing on the request may be submitted, but will not be considered by the panel

what if you want to enter a supplement to your arguments
What If You Want to Enter a Supplement To Your Arguments?

No supplemental arguments will be accepted.

Supplemental replies will not be entered or considered in the proceedings.

what if you want to orally present your arguments
What If You Want to Orally Present Your Arguments?

No applicant or applicant representative participation or attendance is permitted in a Pre-Appeal Brief Conference

added review by a fresh party at no cost why don t i request conference as a matter of course
Added Review By a Fresh Party At No Cost – Why Don’t I Request Conference As a Matter of Course?

Whenever you have a clear case, you should.

If the application is going to appeal or be subject to RCE anyway, requesting a conference only delays the process and adds your time and expense of preparing the request. If you do not have a clear case, you will likely be filing an appeal brief anyway.

Even if you have a solid argument as to error, you are better off making it first in an after final amendment to the examiner, prior to requesting a conference. You may avoid even needing a conference.