Revising Patent Examiner’s Time Allocations

Michael D. Frakes 1 and Melissa F. Wasserman 2

Policymakers have long posited that the Patent and Trademark Office may be allowing too many low quality patents in part because patent examiners are not given sufficient time to conduct high-quality review of patent applications. Such sentiments have been echoed by patent examiners themselves, which on average spend 19 hours conducting the examination process. Because patent applications are presumed to comply with the patent requirements when filed, a patent examiner who is given insufficient examination time may conduct limited review of applications and grant patents that fail to meet the patentability standards.

Continue to article in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.*

Food for thought:  One interpretation of this result is those patent examiners learn over time to adjust to their new time allotments. By easing examiners into their new time allotments over a one year time period (rather than the next bi-week), the Patent and Trademark Office may be able to take advantage of this learning process and increase the quality of issued patents for newly promoted examiners.

  1. Associate Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law; Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University. J.D., Ph.D.
  2. Associate Professor of Law; Richard and Anne Stockton Faculty Scholar; & Richard W. and Marie L. Corman Scholar, University of Illinois College of Law. J.D., Ph.D.


*At this time, access to the Berkeley Technology Law Journal has been blocked as a matter of USPTO policy:

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