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TAKEAWAY: The USPTO recently launched a program to promote development of new patent practitioners in oral arguments before the PTAB.

Earlier this year, the USPTO started the Legal Experience and Advancement Program (LEAP) to provide new patent practitioners with an opportunity to develop oral advocacy skills before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB oversees examination appeals and post-grant trials, including inter partes review, post-grant review, and derivations. LEAP is rooted in the premise that promoting oral argument proficiencies among patent practitioners provides benefits that are far reaching.

To qualify for participation in the program, a practitioner must be a registered U.S. attorney or patent agent with fewer than seven years of experience, and fewer than three years of oral argument experience before any federal tribunal. To encourage participation in the program, the PTAB will afford a LEAP practitioner with additional time during a hearing to present oral arguments on their party’s behalf.

The USPTO offers webinars, mock arguments, and other tools to help LEAP participants prepare for proceedings before the PTAB. More information may be found here. To participate in the program, an appellant involved in an appeal should email PTABhearings@uspto.gov (and a party involved in a post-grant AIA trial should email Trials@uspto.gov) at least five business days before the oral hearing.