Improving Patent Examination Efficiency and Quality: An Operations Research Analysis of the USPTO, using Queuing Theory
Federal Circuit Bar Journal, Vol. 17, 2007
43 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2007
In recent years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has proposed a variety of structural reforms to reduce the backlog of pending applications. These proposed reforms have included outsourcing patent examiners' search function to commercial vendors, limiting the number of claims examined in each application, and offering the options of deferred examination and accelerated examination. In 2006, the USPTO proposed a limit on the number of Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs) and "continuing" applications (which the USPTO defines as continuations, continuations-in-part, and divisional applications). What has been lacking in the discussion about these and other proposed reforms is an operations research framework. A quantitative model that can describe the existing system, and that can be adjusted to predict the effects of various functional changes, would provide much needed insight into the effectiveness of the proposed reform. The purpose of this article is to provide a first step in this direction. This article creates a model of the current patent system, using concepts taken from a sub-specialty of operations research known as queuing theory.
Keywords: USPTO, patent ,reform, queuing, model, limit continuation, applications
JEL Classification: K40, C69
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation