Monday, July 31, 2006

TTAB Opens Its Hearings to the Public

In the July 26, 2006 Official Gazette, the TTAB announced that, effective August 1st, the Board will permit the public to attend its hearings, under certain conditions and subject to certain procedures. (Notice here).

Public Attendance At Board Hearings

Due to an increasing interest of the public to attend the hearings conducted at the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), the following procedures will become effective August 1, 2006, in order to accommodate this objective.

Notification of Hearings:

Hearings open to the public will be posted in advance on the respective websites of the BPAI and the TTAB. The website address of the BPAI is The website address of the TTAB is The posting will contain the time, date, hearing room, and proceeding number set for a particular hearing session. Due to last minute cancellations or no shows, there is no guaranty that a hearing on a particular proceeding will occur, although it may be posted.

Hearing Room Admittance:

The BPAI and the TTAB share four hearing rooms, which are located on the 9th floor of the Madison East Building. The Hearing Rooms are designated as "A" through "D". A given number of spaces in each hearing room are reserved for party representatives. The remaining spaces in each hearing room may be made available to the public. The maximum number of publicly available spaces in each hearing room is as follows:

Hearing Room A: 55 spaces
Hearing Room B: 10 spaces
Hearing Room C: 10 spaces
Hearing Room D: 5 spaces

The BPAI and TTAB reserve the right to limit the number of attendees even further.

Thirty minutes before the scheduled start of the hearing session, members of the public should arrive at the lobby level, Madison East Guard Desk and request a hearing badge for hearings in a specific hearing room, e.g., A, B, C, or D. Attendees will need to surrender a picture ID in exchange for a hearing badge. The Guard Desk will only issue a given number of hearing badges for each hearing room on a first come, first served basis. No advance requests for attendance by the public will be permitted. Fifteen minutes before the start of a hearing session a hearing usher will escort the public attendees with badges to the hearing rooms. Upon exiting the building, hearing badges are turned in at the Guard Desk in exchange for the attendee's picture ID.

Hearing Room Protocol/Decorum:

. No food or drink is permitted in the public gallery of the hearing room.

. Proper decorum is required with respect to both behavior and dress for that of a courtroom.

. When a hearing is in session, no one should be heard except for counsel making argument or a judge.

. No personal recording devices of any kind (audio or visual) will be permitted in the hearing room.

. All cell phones or pagers must be turned off.

. Owners of computers brought to the hearing room must acquire an equipment pass from the hearing usher for the computer. Upon exiting the building at the Guard's Desk, the equipment pass is surrendered so as to permit removal of the computer from the building.

. Once granted entry to the hearing session, public attendees are required to stay for the entire hearing session even though there may be more than one proceeding scheduled during the hearing session.

. Improper hearing room behavior may result in removal from the hearing room or other sanctions.

June 27, 2006
Chief Administrative Patent Judge
Chief Administrative Trademark Judge

TTABlog comments: A special TTABlog hat tip to loyal reader Keith D. for bringing this to my attention. However, I find rather dubious his suggestion that the ban on bringing food and drink into the hearing room may mean that the TTAB (like his beloved Chicago Cubs and other sports teams) wants to keep the concession revenues for itself.

In any case, I can't resist pointing out that this announcement is rather oddly worded. E.g., in the first sentence, what "objective?" And this: "Upon exiting the building, hearing badges ...." The badges will be exiting the building?


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