USPTO Considering Small Claims Court for Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seeking feedback on whether it should create a small claims proceeding for patent enforcement.

As detailed in a notice in the Federal Register, the USPTO wants to assess whether there is a need and desire for this type of proceeding and, if so, what types of features it should possess. More specifically, the USPTO is looking for information information about core characteristics of a patent small claims proceeding, including subject matter jurisdiction, venue, case management, appellate review, available remedies, and conformity with the U.S. constitutional framework.

The idea of a small claims court for patent claims first surfaced more than twenty years ago. After failing to gain traction, it has now resurfaced in recent discussions about how to resolve “small” intellectual property disputes. The U.S. Copyright Office is considering a similar idea.

With regard to patent disputes, below are some of the specific questions the USPTO is hoping to answer this time around:

  • Provide a general description of your understanding of the need or lack of a need for a patent small claims court or other streamlined proceedings. If you believe there is a need, please provide a description of which types of patent cases would benefit from such proceedings. If you believe that there is not a need for such a court or proceedings, please share why you hold such a view.
  • Please share your views, along with any corresponding analysis and empirical data, as to what a preferred patent small claims proceeding should look like.
  • Please share any concerns you may have regarding any unintended negative consequences of a patent small claims proceeding along with any proposed safeguards that would reduce or eliminate the risk of any potential negative unintended consequences, to the extent any such concerns exist.

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