The New PTAB Bar: What’s in Store

By Annie Dike, Esq.

Since we first learned of the launch of the new PTAB Bar Association, we have been scouring the PTAB Bar website, related articles, and press releases to see what benefits might accompany the formation of this new organization. We have compiled the following for any of you out there who may have been considering becoming a member or seed-funder.

Purpose of the PTAB Bar:

It appears the primary purpose of the new PTAB Bar is to act as a collective voice between the practicing patent law community and PTAB officials to establish best practices for litigating cases before the Board. Docket surveys show as many as 5,000 petitions have been filed with the PTAB since it became an increasingly popular venue for patent disputes when it was given increased adjudicative responsibilities through the America Invents Act that went into effect in 2012. As with any relatively new forum, rules are often proposed, changed, and modified to fit the growing caseload and foster uniform, efficient, and ethical handling of the many patent cases filed with the PTAB. Despite the impressive quantity of PTAB rules and amendments, the PTAB’s President-Elect, Erika Arner noted: “Nearly every proceeding involves something that is not specifically addressed in the statute or rules, providing opportunities to be creative and collaborate with the Board—and sometimes even opposing counsel—to shape the practice.” Overall, the intent of the PTAB Bar is to improve the practice of patent litigation before the Board.

Benefits of Formation:

  • A forum where both sides of the patent aisle can be represented, heard, and perhaps reach a compromise or consensus on practice solutions that the Bar Association can present to the PTAB for adoption
  • Organization of efforts to provide pro bono services to both petitioners and patent owners, a need that according to the PTAB Bar’s first President, Bob Steinberg, is “currently unmet”
  • Coordination of continuing legal education seminars, presentations and events focused specifically on issues related to practicing before the PTAB
  • Fundraising and potential career enhancement and/or scholarship opportunities for young lawyers in the patent law community

Benefits of Membership:

  • Excellent networking opportunities exclusive to patent lawyers at PTAB Bar events and conferences
  • A 15% discount on the Inaugural PTAB Bar Conference in March 2017 (if you become a member of the PTAB Bar before October 16th)
  • Leadership opportunities through service on PTAB Bar Committees
  • Bi-monthly PTAB Bar Round-Up newsletters which offer concise summations of current rulings from the PTAB and CAFC as well as updates on amendments to PTAB rules
  • Affordable, effective CLE options geared specifically toward practice before the PTAB
  • Visibility among patent lawyers and potential clients by speaking at PTAB Bar conferences and events, serving on PTAB Bar committees or contributing to the PTAB Bar bi-monthly Round-Up

Benefits of Seed-Funding:

  • Promotion on the PTAB Bar website, press releases, brochures, and marketing materials for the Inaugural PTAB Bar conference in March 2017. Tiered sponsorship levels include: Bronze ($2k), Silver ($4k), Gold ($6k), Platinum ($8k) or Diamond ($10k)
  • The PTAB Bar has extended seed-funding opportunities through October 16, 2016

Potential Cons:

It is honestly hard to see any at this point. As with any organization, there is the potential for bureaucratic stall, excessive meetings and emails in your inbox, committee obligations, etc., but that has yet to be seen here. Rather, an organized platform designed to elicit input from both sides of the “v” and work with PTAB officials to improve the practice will likely do just that. As Steinberg said, while most patent lawyers he approached about this could not and will likely never agree on the best amendment to a PTAB rule, most quickly agreed to the need for a PTAB Bar Association.

We welcome your input. What potential pros and cons do you see resulting from the recent formation of the PTAB Bar Association? Have you or are you considering becoming a member or seed-funder?

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Annie Dike, Esq.

As a former trial and litigation attorney, Annie Dike has a keen eye for expert evidentiary issues and a clear voice for practical solutions.  Annie is a published author of both fiction, non-fiction, and a comprehensive legal practitioner's guide to hourly billing published by LexisNexis. Annie graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law cum laude.  While in law school, she served as Vice President of both the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society and the Farrah Law Society and was a member of the Alabama Trial Advocacy Competition Team as well as Lead Articles Editor of The Journal of the Legal Profession.  Ms. Dike has published articles in The Alabama Lawyer and DRI MedLaw Update and has spoken on numerous legal issues at various conferences nationwide.

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