USPTO visits the S.J. Quinney College of Law

Mar 18, 2016 | Labs Blog

Thomas WoodlandBy Thomas Woodland for

On Friday, March 4, 2016, judges from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) visited the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. The visit was part of a partnership between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and select law schools around the country. The goal of the partnership was to showcase PTAB and TTAB trial and appeal proceedings.  Dallas, Atlanta, and Columbia were also visited prior to Salt Lake City.

The PTAB is a division of the USPTO that aids in assessing validity of U.S. patents and patent applications. Derived from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, the PTAB was formed in 2012 as part of the America Invents Act and has since become a vital resource at the USPTO. Responsibilities of the PTAB include conducting trials in inter partes, post-grant, and covered business method reviews and derivation proceedings. The PTAB also hears appeals from rejected patent applications. Similarly, the TTAB is a division of the USPTO responsible for hearing appeals after denial of trademark registration and deciding opposition proceedings of a mark.

The judges met with law students early in the day to share experiences and answer questions on a variety of IP issues. The judges also sat on a panel open to the public and presented some tips for successful written briefing and oral arguments. Both the PTAB and TTAB initially planned on hearing live cases at the law school, however, the TTAB trademark case, Retail Royalty Co. v. Hawke & Co. Outfitters LLC, was settled beforehand. In lieu of the TTAB proceeding, Chief Judge Gerry Rogers delivered a trademark presentation on the state of the TTAB. Specifically, Chief Judge Rogers discussed practices that are currently used by the TTAB, which will be codified in the near future.

The PTAB then conducted a trial proceeding for a post-grant review of a business method patent. Attendees consisted primarily of students, professors, and local practitioners. A brief summary of the case, Life Technologies v. Unisone Strategic IP, was delivered before the proceeding began. PTAB judges heard oral arguments for approximately one hour. Once oral arguments concluded, a panel of practitioners answered questions about the case and generally addressed appeal strategies. The entire experience served to inform and educate Utah’s growing Intellectual Property community.

Thomas is a third-year law student at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and current Fellow with the Center for Medical Innovation. Thomas received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Utah.  He is pursuing a career in Intellectual Property law and will be joining Knobbe Martens as an Associate in 2016. Thomas enjoys playing the guitar, racquetball, chess, and spending time with his family.