On August 4th, the PTAB held its fourth Boardside Chat Webinar. Originally intended to address the forthcoming proposed rule changes for AIA trials, due to the fact that the proposed rules have not published yet, the format was changed to a Q&A “Ask the Judges” panel. Although the panel avoided touching on the some of the hot-button issues currently facing the PTAB, including what the Board will do about the Kyle Bass hedge fund IPR phenomenon, they did discuss a variety of topics. Here is a quick recap:

Proposed Rule Changes

The panel declined to provide any updates on when they may reveal the new rule package, but a look at the upcoming calendar would seem to indicate the end of August as the next likely window. During the week of August 24th the PTAB, in cooperation with the AIPLA and others, will be conducting several "road shows” in which the rules package is a featured topic. In addition to the panel discussion on the proposed rule changes, each road show will also feature a live oral hearing from an existing AIA trial.

Appeal Backlog

As part of its ongoing effort to reduce the backlog of pending appeals (23,000+), the PTAB started a new pilot program that allows appellants with multiple ex parte appeals pending before the Board to expedite review of one appeal in return for withdrawing another appeal. However, so far they haven’t had many takers, as only one petition has been filed in the month and a half the program has been available.

Precedential Decisions

The Board enters thousands of opinions every year, but to date only one opinion from an AIA trial has been designated as precedential. Stakeholders have been hoping that the Board would clarify some of the issues that at this point seem to be panel dependent, such as issue joinder. (See Target Corp. v. Destination Maternity Corp IPR2014-00508, Paper No. 28 (PTAB Feb. 12, 2015).) However, Lead Judge Giannetti hinted that we will likely have to wait for the Federal Circuit to weigh in on these issues before the Board designates any particular opinion precedential.