PTAB Oral Proceedings at Satellite Offices

Before the US Patent and Trademark Office opened its satellite offices, all appeal hearings were held in Washington (Alexandria). This required the applicant's representative to travel to DC for any hearing that was requested. The Board typically provided about 2 months notice; so for those of us on the West coast, the combined long journey and notice period often caused problems with vacations and other life events.

With the new satellite offices, the USPTO and PTAB have expanded hearing locations beyond Alexandria, Virginia to Detroit, Michigan, Denver, Colorado, Silicon Valley (San Jose), California and Dallas, Texas. In addition, it is possible to request that your hearing take place at particular location and/or to provide the Applicant's preferred order of location options.  What is more, in my experience, the PTAB is actually receptive to reasonable requests for particular locations as long as sufficient information is provided.  Additionally, when making a request, the Applicant should indicate that they would be willing to accept a time delay, if needed, to accommodate the request.  In fact, in my experience, the PTAB is even willing to consolidate hearings when you have multiple cases with hearings for the same applicant falling close together in timing.

As an example, I was able to consolidate the hearing date and time for multiple separate (and unrelated) cases (for the same applicant), as well as request a particular satellite office.  Since the commencement of appeal hearings outside Alexandria, I have had several opportunities to participate in hearings in both San Jose and Denver. Just as in Alexandria, at least one judge is usually participating by video conference. Nevertheless, the hearings have generally proceeded without any technical issues in all locations, even when the most active questioner is remotely located.

So, in this regard, the PTAB's use of satellite offices has provided a very real and practical benefit to applicants without any reduction in the quality or effectiveness of the hearings. Applicants should take note of the opportunity to request specific locations in order to reduce the burden of oral proceedings.