Examining Patent Examination

20 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2009 Last revised: 6 Feb 2011

See all articles by Bhaven N. Sampat

Bhaven N. Sampat

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health

Mark A. Lemley

Stanford Law School

Date Written: October 7, 2009


The USPTO receives more applications today than it ever has before. What happens to those applications? Patent prosecutors all have stories and personal experiences. Until quite recently, however, this sort of “anecdata” was all that was available, because the law prevented anyone from every finding out what happened to patent applications that did not ultimately issue as patents.

That changed in 2001, when the PTO began publishing data on pending applications, and when the PAIR system allowed the public to track the fate of those applications in real time. In this paper, we use those changes to report – for the first time ever – systematic data on the fate of applications in the PTO. We are able to confirm much received wisdom, but also to offer some surprising results.

Suggested Citation

Sampat, Bhaven N. and Lemley, Mark A., Examining Patent Examination (October 7, 2009). Stanford Technology Law Review, Vol. 2010, p. 2, 2010, Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1485011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1485011

Bhaven N. Sampat

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health ( email )

600 West 168th St. 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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