PTAB Backlog

By Dennis Crouch

After an examiner twice-rejects a patent application, the applicant can then appeal that case to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The appeal process has a number of problems, one of which is exemplified by the chart above. The backlog of pending ex parte appeals is large – over 25,000 pending cases. Over the past two years, the PTAB has been taking action by both adding some efficiencies, reducing opinion writing duties, and also by hiring a large number of additional judges. As the chart shows, those efforts are having some impact on the backlog and hopefully turning the corner. On average, new PTAB decisions in these cases take a little over 2 ½ years from the applicant's appeal brief until issuance of the PTAB decision.