Senior Associate

Clarity in Action: How the USPTO is Transforming PTAB Proceedings

June 27, 2024

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has introduced a new rule aimed at enhancing the practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Effective July 12, 2024, this rule represents a significant step by the USPTO and the Department of Commerce to streamline patent adjudication and promote a transparent, consistent, and efficient system.

This rule is part of the USPTO's ongoing efforts to refine PTAB practices, following extensive public feedback. Over 4,300 comments were received during the rule's development phase, reflecting a broad range of stakeholder inputs from individuals, associations, and companies.

Key Highlights

  1. Independent Decision-Making: The rule ensures that the USPTO Director, Deputy Director, Commissioners for Patents and Trademarks, and PTAB management judges are not involved in panel decisions unless specifically requested by a panel member or if they are part of the panel. This change is intended to maintain the independence and impartiality of PTAB panels.
  2. Optional Circulation Judge Pool (CJP): Panels now have the option to circulate their decisions to a Circulation Judge Pool (CJP) composed of non-management administrative patent judges (APJs). The CJP's role is to provide the panel with information regarding potential conflicts or inconsistencies with relevant authority, including PTAB precedential decisions, director guidance memoranda, and other written Office and Board policies and guidance.
  3. Enhanced Transparency: All binding policies and guidance for PTAB panels must be written and publicly accessible. This provision aims to eliminate any unwritten rules that could influence panel decisions, thereby enhancing transparency.
  4. Pre-Issuance Review Processes: Panels can seek optional pre-issuance reviews from designated PTAB management or other Office employees. However, such reviews are purely at the discretion of the panel members, ensuring that panels retain final authority over their decisions.

Expected Impact

  • Improved Consistency: The formalization of review processes and optional feedback from the CJP and management judges is expected to create more consistent and reliable outcomes in PTAB proceedings. This consistency will likely increase stakeholder trust in PTAB decisions.
  • Greater Judicial Independence: By separating decision-making processes from higher-level USPTO management and external influences, the rule reinforces the judicial independence of PTAB panels, maintaining the integrity and impartiality of their decisions.
  • Enhanced Procedural Transparency: The requirement for all binding policies and guidance to be public ensures that all parties involved in PTAB proceedings are aware of the rules influencing decisions, leading to a fairer and more transparent process.


For businesses involved in patent disputes, these changes represent a positive step towards a more predictable, transparent, and fair patent litigation environment. By leveraging the resources and processes of the PTAB, businesses can effectively navigate the complexities of patent law and protect their intellectual property with greater assurance.


Cavanaugh, D.L. et al. (2024) PTAB/USPTO update - June 2024, WilmerHale. Available at: (Accessed: 14 June 2024).

Eileen McDermott (2024a) USPTO finalizes changes to PTAB Pre-Issuance circulation rules, | Patents & Intellectual Property Law. Available at: (Accessed: 14 June 2024).

Eileen McDermott (2024b) USPTO publishes long-awaited proposed rule on ptab changes, | Patents & Intellectual Property Law. Available at: (Accessed: 14 June 2024).

Johnson, M. (2023) Rulemaking: PTO aims for transparency, judicial independence at ptab, PTAB Litigation Blog. Available at: (Accessed: 14 June 2024).

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