In 2011, Congress created a new administrative tribunal in the U.S. Patent Office with the power to cancel previously granted patents, called the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB was created to provide an efficient and inexpensive administrative process for eliminating low-quality patents – what are called “bad patents.” Despite its laudable purpose, the PTAB has earned a reputation among some as a prime example of regulatory overreach.
The PTAB’s critics cite a wide range of concerns including inadequate due process protections and bias against patents. A former federal appellate chief judge even referred to PTAB administrative judges as “patent death squads.” So, is the PTAB indeed harming the property rights that have helped to drive the U.S. innovation economy for over 200 years or, is it functioning as intended? What are the concerns of its detractors? If these concerns are valid, does the PTAB need simple reform or more?