Highlights from 2018 PTAB Bar Conference

March 26, 2018

Oblon was proud to be a sponsor at the sold-out 2018 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference, held on March 22–23, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together 500 members of the bench and of the PTAB Bar Association (both in-house and outside counsel) for dynamic discussions of PTAB best practices, recent developments and trends, policy considerations, views from specific industries, and strategic considerations involved in PTAB proceedings and parallel litigation.

A highlight this year included a conversation with the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu.  Secretary Iancu discussed his visions for the PTAB going forward, emphasizing his goals of improving fairness and predictability for stakeholders.  Related to predictability, the PTO announced its revamped website that presents precedential and informative decisions sorted by subject matter, allowing for greater ease of use.

Of course, Secretary Iancu and other speakers anxiously await the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Oil States and SAS appeals, where imminent decisions are expected that could dramatically affect PTAB proceedings going forward. While there was some speculation as to how the Court will rule, PTO representatives reassured attendees that they are preparing for all contingencies.

Most sessions included representatives from in-house counsel, outside counsel, and the PTO to provide alternative perspectives and insights.  Notably, PTAB judges represented the PTO on most panels and provided practical tips and advice for practitioners where applicable.  A panel of Federal Circuit judges also provided valuable perspective on the PTAB appeal process, particularly important given the dramatic increase in Federal Circuit appeals.