In an effort to provide opportunities for more junior practitioners to gain experience in proceedings before the PTAB, the USPTO earlier this year established the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP). To encourage meaningful participation of young patent attorneys and agents in oral advocacy, the PTAB grants additional argument time to parties that choose to participate in LEAP. The PTAB also provides training opportunities for junior practitioners through LEAP. Notably, the PTAB has organized mock oral arguments, wherein pairs of practitioners argue in mock review proceedings before a panel of PTAB judges. The judges then provide individualized feedback for the advocates.
I participated in the October mock arguments and presented arguments in a fictional inter partes review, where two pairs of attorneys faced off as advocates for petitioner or patent owner. The case file, which included a petition, institution decision, response, and reply as well as prior art references and declarations, was prepared by the PTAB. A panel of three PTAB judges heard our arguments. Following the arguments, the judges provided their feedback for each of the four advocates.
Although LEAP is meant for junior patent attorneys and agents, the judges’ feedback includes helpful guidance for all practitioners who argue before the PTAB. Here is my list of takeaways:
The PTAB’s LEAP provides meaningful and substantive opportunities for junior practitioners to hone their oral advocacy skills. Additional information on the program, including how to get involved, can be accessed on the USPTO’s website.