The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Bar Association launched in September on the fifth anniversary of the America Invents Act. The Association’s mission is to promote the highest professional and ethical standards among lawyers and stakeholders who appear before the PTAB; to help establish best practices for the unique practice and skills required before the PTAB; and to foster communication among its various stakeholders. Since its inception, the organization has proven to be quite popular and has experienced immediate growth.
In the initial two weeks, 300 individuals signed up and the number of law firms contributing seed funding had increased to 50. Membership has since climbed past 600. Finnegan partner Erika H. Arner serves as president-elect of the association and discussed its popularity with Managing Intellectual Property. She said, "Since launch we have heard from dozens of other firms who were not yet involved but who wanted to get involved and we have found ways for them to get involved too. We had a second round of seed funding which we were not planning to do but that we opened up after we realized that many firms wanted to join and help build the organization. So it is a very encouraging and collaborative process."
Arner also discussed how PTAB practice has changed over the years. In the first few years, litigators would often use the same strategies at the PTAB that they would use in district court. Eventually, attorneys realized that these strategies were not effective in front of Board judges who are technically sophisticated. Another observation is that some of the procedures that took place in the beginning have since gone away. Arner said, "…In the early trials we would have always an initial conference call with the Board and the parties early in the case where we would be told the procedures and rules that the panel thought were particularly important to follow. That was helpful in the early days when things were new and we were all learning together. That type of initial conference call is no longer automatic and in most cases not even offered unless you ask for it particularly. They have realized that people have learned enough and the judges are comfortable enough that some of those procedures that were important in the beginning have fallen away as we have become more sophisticated."