By Sarah Geers

On April 11, 2021, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) held a Boardside Chat webinar to discuss remote hearings in AIA trials and ex parte appeals.  The discussion featured panelists Lead judges Georgianna Braden and Jessica Kaiser, Deputy Chief Clerk Kulunie Cannon, and PTAB practitioners David McCombs and Pauline Pelletier.

The webinar began with a presentation by Chief Clerk Erica Swift, who discussed the PTAB’s standard procedures for arranging and conducting remote hearings, as well as recent hearing statistics.  Prior to March 2020, less than 1% of AIA trials involved remote presentation by counsel, whereas 100% of AIA trials (466 trials) were conducted remotely during the last year.  Significantly, the number of hearings has not slowed during this transition.  Chief Clerk Swift also noted that the Board received 46 requests for additional argument time under the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) for less experienced advocates.

The second half of the webinar consisted of a question and answer dialogue with the panel members.  Webinar participants were encouraged to submit questions about remote hearings in advance and during the first portion of the webinar.  The question topics spanned logistical issues of remote hearings (technology platforms used, types of access available to various participants, preparation tips and back-up plans), oral advocacy tips for remote arguments, and the advantages and disadvantages of remote hearings vs. in-person.  The panelists emphasized the seamlessness of the PTAB’s transition to remote hearings, the need to maintain the same standards of preparation and professionalism as for in-person arguments, and the Board’s appreciation of presentations by the attorneys (often more junior) who are most intimately familiar with the record and arguments.

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Sarah Geers represents pharmaceutical clients in intellectual property litigation in a variety of venues, including in district court, arbitration, and at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Her practice spans Hatch-Waxman and other patent infringement actions, inter partes review proceedings, trade secret, and misappropriation actions. Her litigation experience spans discovery, trial, and appeal.