Supreme Court to Review Claim Construction

April 2, 2014

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear another patent case, Teva Pharms. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc.  In this case, the Court will determine whether factual findings underpinning claim construction rulings should be reviewed de novo or only for clear error.

You will recall that the Federal Circuit recently considered this issue in Lightning Ballast v. Phillips and decided by a vote of 6-4 to continue its current practice of de novo review.  In that case, Judge O’Malley issued a scathing dissent of the majority opinion by Judge Newman where she called out judges for changing their long held positions.

In July, the Federal Circuit issued an extensive opinion in Teva v. Sandoz that included a number of rulings on various issues in the case.  The one that Teva decided to pursue to the Supreme Court was the ruling on the definiteness of various claims at issue.  A number of claims were held to be invalid as being indefinite, while another set of claims was held to be sufficiently definite to withstand an invalidity charge on that basis.  To determine whether the claims met the legal standard of definiteness, the Federal Circuit had to construe a number of claim terms.  Following its precedent, it did so de novo.

The Supreme Court will now determine whether the de novo standard is correct.

This case adds yet another to the Supreme Court’s growing list of patent cases that it has been reviewing in recent years.  The Court’s argument calendar for the current term is full, so this case will be argued during the October 2014 term, with a decision expected by early 2015.

Regarding Patent Application Costs

March 26, 2014

There are a large number of inventors and companies out there now that want patent work done as cheaply as possible.  Especially since the economy has tanked, many inventors and companies are attempting to low-ball fees for preparing patent applications.  I have seen ads for $1,400 patent applications.  There is simply no way to have a quality patent application prepared for this price.

Another case is where an inventor has prepared his own patent application and has asked me to simply review it to make sure that there are no obvious mistakes.  The reason for preparing the application himself is that the inventor believes that this will save money on preparation costs.  Unfortunately, this is usually not the case, and I tell these clients this fact up front.  Unless the inventor has significant experience with preparing and prosecuting patent applications, the application will undoubtedly need a lot of work on my part.

First, the application may be very brief, perhaps 8-10 pages with a drawing or two.  The invention will often be described in very general terms because the inventor is afraid that specific descriptions will unduly limit the invention.  In this case, I generally have to start over.  One cannot get a patent on a general idea.  One must describe specific implementations of the invention.  This does not mean that the invention must be very specifically claimed.

Otherwise, the inventor may have an application of adequate length for the complexity of the invention, say 30 or so pages, with 10 or so pages of drawings.  In fact, sometimes these inventors don’t understand the difference between a patent application and a research paper, so they will include large amounts of extraneous details ont the background or theory of the invention.  In this situation, it will probably take me just as long or longer to adequately review the entire application, discuss the details with the inventor to fully appreciate and understand the invention, and then make corrections and changes based on my experience in patent law and my adequate understanding of the invention.  This does not save the inventor money.

Another typical situation that I encounter is where an inventor or company sends me a pending patent application and asks me to take over the prosecution because they are dissatisfied with their current counsel.  They believed that the invention would be patentable and that the examiner should be able to be persuaded of this fact quickly.  They have also had commercial success with the invention, but are afraid that if they don’t get a patent, knock-offs will appear that will undercut their prices and knock them out of the market.

Often, I find out that they are correct–certain aspects of the invention are patentable.  When I review the specification, however, I realized that it is only 8 or 10 pages long.  They didn’t want to spend much money when they had their application prepared and filed (often a couple years earlier), so they went with the low-ball price for its preparation.  Now, many of the features that seem to make the invention patentable are not sufficiently described in the specification; I cannot add them to the claims because they would constitute new matter.  I do the best that I can to salvage something from the application for them, but there is a lesson here.  If the description contained more details and was say 15 or even 20 pages long, these aspects of the invention could be added to the claims.  This is not to say that longer applications are always better, but in general this is the case.

What to Do

The best practice is for each invention should be treated as a million dollar invention when the application is being prepared.  At that time, who knows which ones will be?  I always tell clients that patents are speculative investments.  You can’t tell from the start which inventions will be successful and worth the investment; you can’t be certain which will be granted broad patent protection; and, perhaps most importantly, getting a patent doesn’t mean the product will be successful in the marketplace.  If you don’t spend the time and money to prepare an adequate patent application, it doesn’t matter.  The resulting patent, if any, will only be worth what you paid for it.

With a down economy many or most patent attorneys either didn’t raise their rates or even lowered them slightly the past few years, and rightfully so.  The market dictated this event.  When comparing the services of an attorney who charges $800 per hour with one who charges $50 per hour, however, one must realize that the attorney with the low-ball rate would undoubtedly charge a higher rate if the market demanded it.  If he can be just as busy charging $200 or $300 per hour, why would he continue to charge $50 and make less money?

This isn’t to say that a higher rate always gives you a better product.  One should also take referrals and other factors into account when comparison shopping for patent services.  Sometimes a better patent attorney may choose to work for a smaller firm or in a smaller market where rates are lower than those in the big city at the big firm.  His or her work may be just as good or better than the big-firm attorney in New York or DC.  When a price is too good to be true, however, it probably is.

On the point of whether to begin a patent application by preparing the claims or the specification, I have done it both ways.  I generally find, however, that preparing the claims first is advantageous.  In this way, I can confirm with the inventor his or her understanding of what the invention actually is.  I then prepare the written description.  I try to make it as detailed as possible and get the inventor to provide me with as many different implemenations, embodiments, and optional features as I can.  It is indeed an iterative process:  when preparing the description, it is inevitable that I will discover features that that should be claimed, and vice versa.  And yes, all of this takes time; more than $1,400 worth of time.

I will often discover during prosecution that there are features of the invention that I need to add to the claims or that are patentable that were not included in the original claims.  By having an adequate disclosure from the beginning, adding such claims is easy.  If the description is too terse, however, this can’t be done.  New matter cannot be added to a pending application during prosecution.

When a client comes to me with a new idea for a patent application, I try to get all of the details of the invention from them and then provide what I believe to be a fair and realistic estimate of the cost to them based on the time it should take to adequately describe and claim the invention.  Sometimes my estimate is too high and the actual cost is lower; sometimes things happen that raise the costs.  I previously provided some tips and strategies to keep costs down and get better patents.

The bottom line is that in patent preparation and prosecution, like most everything else, you get what you pay for.

PTO Issues Guidance on Patentable Subject Matter

March 17, 2014

Several weeks ago, Andrew Hirschfeld, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, issued a Procedure for Subject Matter Eligibility Analysis for claims purportedly involving laws of nature, natural principles, natural phenomena, or natural products.

At its most basic, the guidelines direct patent examiners to determine whether the claims fit within one of the statutory (always a good place to start) categories (process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter).  If so, the examiner should determine whether it might fit within one of the judicially-created exceptions to eligibility.  Next, the examiner should ask this question.

Does the claim as a whole recite something significantly different than the judicial exception(s)?

What does that mean?  There is, of course, not test to determine whether a patent claim recites something “significantly different” from a patent ineligible naturally occurring product.  Thus, the guidelines set forth a large number of factors that examiners must weigh to make this determination.  The guidelines then go on for a total of 18 pages to discuss factors weighing in favor or against the subject matter being patent eligible and set forth numerous examples for examiners to review.

Looking for “significant differences” again sounds like a confusion of the standard for prior art patentability against subject matter eligibility.  The Supreme Court has made this area of patent law that was simple to understand and basically dormant into an area that is beyond confusing and creates large amounts of uncertainty for applicants and patent owners.

How does one provide comments on these new PTO guidelines to perhaps assist the examiners with new tests or examples?  We can’t.  There is no comment period at all for these guidelines as they are not deemed to be rules that require a notice and comment period.  Let’s not revert to a closed Patent Office as during previous administrations.

Bill Introduced to End Fee Diversion

March 17, 2014

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced the Patent Fee Integrity Act to purportedly end Congress’ theft of PTO user fees.  The bill would place user fees into a fund that can only be used by the PTO for its operations.

Fee diversion was a big part of the debate over the America Invents Act, but ultimately the provisions to end that practice were removed prior to final passage.  Indeed, Congress stole $120 million in PTO funds due to sequestration cuts and has taken $1.1 billion in user fees from the PTO since 1990.  This amounts to an extra tax on innovation in the US.

Congress periodically introduces these types of bills and they never go anywhere.  During the AIA debate over the issue, Rep. Lamar Alexander (R-TX) basically told PTO users to “trust me” there will be no more fee diversion.  If that were so, the PTO would not have been subject to sequestration cuts and would not have been in danger of closing during the government shut down, as users continued to file patent applications to fund the Office.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers’s (D-MI) bill to end fee diversion has not advanced beyond the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

Another New Demand Letter Bill Introduced in Senate

March 5, 2014

220px-Claire_McCaskill,_Official_portrait,_112th_CongressCongress is continuing its quest to defeat the evil patent troll monster.

On the heels of the House passage of the Innovation Act in December that would bar patent owners from sending “purposely evasive” demand letters to secure willful infringement verdicts and require identification of the real party in interest, and the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee that includes a number of requirements for infringement demand  letters and would permit the FTC to act against parties sending out fraudulent letters, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced the Transparency in Patent Assertion Act.

The bill, S. 2049, would similarly set minimum requirements for demand letters sent by patent assertion entities and empower the FTC to act against companies asserting patents as scams.  The bill would require the demand letter to include a detailed description of the patent at issue and the accused product or service, including how it infringes the patent.  The letter must also include the name and address of the person who has the right to enforce the patent.

Sen. McCaskill held a hearing on patent trolls in November where she made her feelings about such “bottom feeders” and “scam artists” quite well known.

If Congress, President Obama, and the Patent Office are of one mind on the evils of patent trolls, why the need for so many different bills and initiatives?

Federal Circuit Holds That Claim Construction Should Should Continue to Be Reviewed De Novo

February 21, 2014

The Federal Circuit has issued its long-awaited opinion in Lightning Ballast Control LLC v. Phillips Electronics N.A. Corp.  By a 6-4 decision, the en banc court held that claim construction should remain a matter of law with no deference accorded to the district court judge’s findings on appeal.

Majority Opinion

NewmanJudge Newman wrote the opinion for the court and relied extensively on uniformity and finality as reasons to retain the current system.  She argued that different cases involving the same patent may result in different conclusions as to the meaning of claim terms if the Federal Circuit had to decide the cases with deference to the rulings of the trial court judges.  This would result in increased uncertainty, costs, and litigation.  The public needs to know definitively what a patent claim means.  Thus, the Federal Circuit should rule on the issue for all the world and not just the parties at hand.

Judge Newman’s opinion relies extensively on stare decisis, the principle that courts should adhere to their previous decisions and not overrule them unless absolutely necessary.  She goes on to state that there is no real impetus to overrule the previous case holding that claim construction is a matter of law to be reviewed de novo on appeal and nobody has provided a workable solution if such an impetus did exist.

Finally, Judge Newman spends a great deal of time attempting to rebut the arguments raised by the dissent that the de novo rule is extremely unpopular and leads to tremendous uncertainty in claim construction appeals.  This seems to be a serious factual dispute between the judges in the majority and those in dissent.


lourieJudge Lourie filed a concurring opinion where he made several interesting arguments.  First, he said that there are really not factual disputes with respect to claim construction.  Although there are a number of actors involved in the patent process, such as hired experts that really don’t know what was meant by the patent terms anyway.  Hired scientific experts do not lie, so the judge’s determination of a witness’s credibility is irrelevant.

Next, he argues that, yes, claim construction rulings are considered on appeal de novo, they aren’t really.  The Federal Circuit provides informal deference to the district court judge’s ruling.  The Federal Circuit will affirm the district court when appropriate and reverse when appropriate.  These points are somewhat baffling to me.


O'MalleyJudge O’Malley (a former district court judge) wrote at great length and rather scathingly for the four dissenting judges.  She argued that a cursory review of the history of de novo review of claim construction demonstrates its error.  There are clearly determinations of underlying factual issues that are entitled to deference on appeal.

When a case is wrongly decided, as the case that dictated de novo review on appeal was, stare decisis does not require the court to adhere to the erroneous decision.  Indeed, en banc review is precisely for overruling such decisions.

The judges in these opinions seem to have gotten a bit personal.  Judge Newman emphasizes that the rule upheld in this case has been settled for 15 years, while Judge O’Malley indicates that it has been a short time.  Judge O’Malley cites Judge Newman’s views from the earlier decision where Judge Newman criticized the de novo review as ignoring the underlying factual issues involved in claim construction.  Judge O’Malley seems shocked that several members of the majority in today’s opinion, including Judge Newman, were among the harshest critics of the de novo review rule.

The result in this case is indeed shocking.  The overwhelming majority of the patent community recognizes that it makes little sense for judges that are far afield on appeal get to determine whether the trial court correctly determined underlying factual issues related to claim construction.

It is likely that this case is headed to the Supreme Court.

White House Executive Action on Patent System

February 20, 2014

ObamaToday, the White House released a FACT SHEET on executive action to strengthen the patent system and foster innovation.  A number of new initiatives are listed in the fact sheet by the administration:

  1. Promoting transparency with the proposed convoluted rule to identify the attributable owner of a patent or application.  It is questionable whether the PTO has the authority to make such a rule, as the courts have held that the PTO does not have substantive rule-making authority.
  2. The PTO has begun further training of patent examiners to help them better understand and examine applications that include functional claims, i.e., parts that are defined a function they perform instead of their structure.  The PTO also plans to launch a program to include glossaries in patent specifications to promote clarity.
  3. The PTO is launching an online toolkit to provide the public with information on patent litigation suits that are pending, as well as on specific patents.  This is intended to aid the public in understanding the risks and benefits of litigation.
  4. The PTO plans to expand the use of academic scholars to produce studies and collect data on patent issues, as well as to continue to expand the use of round table discussions with various members of the patent community.
  5. The White House proposes to strengthen enforcement of ITC exclusion orders.
  6. The White House proposes to continue to strengthen the Patents for Humanity program.
  7. The PTO is announcing a new initiative to use crowd sourcing for prior art to aid examiners.  Presumably, this would be similar to the peer-to-patent system.
  8. The PTO is requesting that technologists, engineers, and experts volunteer their time to aid in training patent examiners to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.
  9. The PTO plans to increase its pro bono and pro se programs.

Finally, the administration is renewing the call to pass meaningful legislation to combat the problem of patent trolls.

On one hand, it is good to see that the White House recognizes that innovation and the patent system are vital to our economy and recognizes the importance of patents.  Past administrations ignored patents and appointed PTO leadership that knew nothing about the patent system.

On the other hand, the Obama Administration is seeking to make what should be a nonpartisan system political.  For one thing, what is the hold up on naming a new PTO director?  If the president is serious about the PTO, why not give the agency a permanent leader?  This seems to be more of his go-it-alone approach to governing.  A new director would require Senate confirmation.  It is hard to understand why that would be difficult (especially given the “nuclear” option that now only requires a majority vote).  The president seems to think that he is above dealing with Congress and so doesn’t even want to go through confirmation of a new PTO leader.

HT:  Hal Wegner.

PTO Seeks to Require Identification of Attributable Owner

February 6, 2014

The PTO has published an extensive proposed rule to require patent and patent applications to identify the “attributable owner.”  The PTO asserts that the public should be able to identify the true owner of a patent, many patent owners–including the infamous and scary patent assertion entities–are seeking to hide the identity of the true owner.  Therefore, the PTO is seeking to require the true owner to be identified.

As noted in the summary by Patently-O, however, this is not nearly so simple as it sounds.  Many patent owners have complex corporate structures that include parent companies, partially or wholly-owned subsidiaries, and multiple entities at various levels.  Property ownership is generally governed by state law with some patent ownership rules governed by federal law, not to mention foreign entities whose existence is governed by the laws of its country of origin.  Thus, there is a veritable panoply of entities that may be involved in patent ownership.

And, beyond that, property rights can be divided in a number of ways.  There are actual title-holders, such as assignees; there are licensees who may have some rights to the property and not others; there are parties that have equitable interests in property; there are easement-holders.

To cover the myriad of possibilities, the PTO seeks the identity of the “attributable owner.”  This means that the actual titleholder or assignee must be identified.  Certainly this would include the ultimate parent entity of the titleholder as well.  Any other parties that are necessary for enforcement of the rights in that patent need to be identified.  This would include exclusive licensees and other parties that would be necessary for enforcement.  Finally, the PTO seeks information on entities that temporarily divest or prevent vestment of ownership or other rights in the patent.  This would include trusts, proxies, and similar entities.  These seem to be some of the entities that the PTO considers to be used to hide the true identity of real parties in interest.

Proposed Rules

The proposed rules would require that the attributable owner be identified at the time of filing a patent application, when there is a change in the attributable owner during pendency of the application, at the time of payment of the issue fee or any maintenance fees, and when a patent is involved in any type of post grant review, including ex parte reexamination, supplemental examination, or proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Applicants and patent owners will generally be given three months from the date of these events to provide the PTO with this information.  If the applicant or patent owner fails to do so, the patent or application will be deemed abandoned.

The PTO is also seeking information from patent applicants and owners regarding licensing information and offers.  The PTO would like to make this information available to the public in an online format.  It is assumed that this information would be provided voluntarily.

Given the complexity of property ownership, the proposed rules are quite extensive.  The PTO seeks comments on the rules by March 25.

HT:  Patently-O and Hal Wegner.

Patent Deadlines

January 30, 2014

Many new inventors and start-ups attempt to nagivate the patent system on their own to save money.  This is understandable to a certain extent because obtaining a strong patent portfolio is not a cheap endeavor.  Aside from problems with not being familiar with PTO practice and procedure or with Federal Circuit caselaw on how certain language used in patent applications and claims can affect patent strength (or the ability to obtain a patent at all), the most dangerous aspect of “going it alone” is the potential loss of patent rights due to missed deadlines.

Currently, under U.S. patent law, an inventor can publicly disclose his invention without losing patent rights, provided that he files a patent application within one year of that disclosure.  To a certain extent, this rule has changed in a rather significant way as the America Invents Act goes into effect.

Problems can arise, however, when the inventors are advertising the new invention for sale, such as on a website, or even if they disclose the invention to potential investors.  A website publication is quite obviously public, but what about a disclosure to potential investors?  Provided that the investors are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, this can be OK.  Many investors, however, won’t sign these agreements.  In this case, the inventors should disclose as little as possible regarding the invention.  If too much is disclosed, this could have a significant negative effect on patent rights.  Even if the complete invention is not disclosed, the amount of the disclosure may cause the invention to be adjudged obvious in light of other prior art.

One potential solution is to file a provisional application prior to disclosure to investors.  If the inventors don’t have the money for such a filing, this may not work either.

Foreign Patent Rights

Another problem arises when new inventors and start-ups begin patenting on their own without realizing that there are deadlines for foreign patent filings, or realizing the significance of not obtaining foreign patent protection.  Maybe they think they will file outside the US once they make a few sales of the invention and get more funding.  Or, they don’t consider foreign markets, focusing initially only on the US market.

Under the Paris Convention, a patent application that is filed within one year of the filing date of a first patent application is effective as if filed in that country on the filing date of the first application.  For example, if an applicant files first in the US and then files in Japan within 12 months of the US filing date, the Japanese application is effective as if filed in Japan on the same date as the US application.  This generally includes provisional applications as well.  If the first filed application is a provisional application, any applications filed within 12 months and claiming priority are effective as if filed on the date of the provisional application.

Conversely, if the one year deadline is missed, the application is treated by the foreign patent office as if filed on its actual filing date and not on the date of the earlier filing.  Thus, a “wait until we have money” or a “I didn’t think about foreign markets” approach can result in loss of rights.  One way to extend the time required to deal with these decisions is to use the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

The risk with waiting more than one year after the earliest application’s filing date to file in foreign countries is that most countries have an absolute novelty requirement.  Thus, any type of public disclosure, use, publication, or offer for sale destroys patent rights in those countries.  If an inventor files a US patent application, then discloses his invention to get more funding, and waits more than one year from the public disclosure to file for foreign patent protection, he will not be entitled to any foreign patent rights in absolute novelty countries.  Furthermore, even if the inventor doesn’t disclose his invention, the PTO publishes most patent applications 18 months after their earliest priority date, unless the inventor requests otherwise.  This also results in loss of foreign patent rights.

The bottom line is that patent deadlines that can result in loss of patent rights are another reason that inventors should work with a patent attorney who can guide them through the various deadlines and provide advice regarding US and foreign patent filings.  Saving a bit of money up front often results in the loss of patent rights in the end.

First Quarter FY2014 PTO Numbers

January 21, 2014

The following is a comparison of the PTO’s numbers from December 2013 with September 2013 (at my last numbers update).  Time to refer again to the PTO’s Data Visualization Center to see how things are going.

First Action Pendency – 17.4 Months

At the end of FY2013, first action pendency was 18.2 months, and has been steadily dropping during the last two fiscal years.  That number is a significant improvement. The PTO continues to make significant improvements in this area.

“Traditional” Total Pendency – 28.6 Months

Traditional pendency is down from 29.1 months in September and over 35 months at the beginning of FY2011.  Again, the PTO is making significant progress in this area.

Application Pendency with RCEs – 37.6 Months

This number is up from 37.1 months in September, but is down from 39.4 months at the end of FY2012.  While the PTO is making significant progress on the front end with reducing first action pendency, the back end of applications requiring RCEs or appeals seems to be where the problem is being shifted.

Applications Awaiting First Office Action – 595,361

This number is up from 584,998 in September.  The PTO generally makes a big push to reduce this number at the end of each fiscal year and since then it has risen 1.8%.  It is a good reduction from 608,283 at the end of FY2012.

Patent Application Allowance Rate – 51.0%, 69.6%

The first number counts RCE filings as abandonments, while the second number does not, but counts them as continuing prosecution.  These numbers are down from 53.5% and 70.7%, respectively, in September.  The 18.5+% difference between the two numbers is, however, troubling.  It seems that RCEs are still being forced; especially considering the next number.

RCE Backlog – 79,120

This number is up from 78,282 at the end of FY2013, a relatively modest 1% increase.  Believe it or not, at the end of June, it was at 100,403.  Hopefully, progress in this area is not being stalled as it needs to continue.  The After Final Pilot Program is supposed to prevent examiners from churning RCE filings.

Number of Patent Examiners – 8,013

This number is up from 7,931 in September.  In November, the PTO passed 8,000 examiners for the first time ever.  Although improving examiner efficiency is a solid goal, as long as filings continue to increase, so should the number of examiners.

Pendency from Application Filing to Board Decision - 87.3 Months

The crisis at the Board continues, as the pendency is down from 88.5 months in September, but is merely back to June levels.   Pendencies of over 7  years from filing to Board decision are not acceptable.  New technologies become obsolete prior to getting a patent or decision by the Board.  The PTO hired a number of additional patent judges and attorneys to deal with this issue, but the sharp increase in the number of appeals filed has made tackling this an impossibility.   The Board now has significantly greater responsibilities with the beginning of the new post-grant review proceedings.

At the end of November (the Board doesn’t have its December numbers available yet), the Board had 25,151 pending appeals from ex parte application prosecution, a drop of 546 since August.  1,423 new appeals were filed since September (a pace for 8,538).  This is down significantly from the 10,758 in FY2013 and from FY2012 when 12,433 new appeals were filed.  Meanwhile, the Board disposed of 1,580 cases during FY2014 (a pace for 9,480).  This is down significantly from the 11,934 during FY2013.  They’re keeping pace here, but having a hard time denting the backlog.

In other types of cases, 166 inter partes review cases have been filed, 50 trials instituted and 23 concluded.  599 of these cases remain pending.  37 transitional business method cases were filed with 6 trials instituted.  1 of these have been concluded.  No post grant review petitions were filed in October or November.  3 derivation petitions were filed in November, giving the Board 4 such pending cases.  7 new interferences were declared, with 11 concluded, leaving the Board with 47 still to be decided.  3 new ex parte reexamination appeals were filed, with 14 being disposed.  13 such cases remain pending.  32 inter partes reexaminations have been filed.  The Board has decided 33, leaving an inventory of 104 cases pending.


The PTO is doing a good job on the front end.  Significant progress is being made on first office action pendency.  The problems begin, however, once an application reaches a final office action.  RCE filings seem to be dropping somewhat, but the rate is still pretty high.  Many or most of these are the result of examiners forcing them on applicants.  This is very inefficient and increases application cost and pendency significantly.

The PTO has still not come up with a plan to deal with its crisis at the Board.  Applicants deserve the ability to get a final agency decision on a patent application within a reasonable time frame.  The Board’s added workload with numerous types of proceedings for it to decide has made things more congested.  Presumably, if the proceedings work well, there may be many more filed in the coming months and years.  This could make things even worse.  Appeals must be decided more quickly.


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