Can the Patent Office Be Fixed?

17 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010 Last revised: 12 Mar 2013

Date Written: August 29, 2010


How can we fix the PTO, allowing examiners to effectively distinguish between patentable and unpatentable inventions, without slowing the process to a crawl or wasting a bunch of money? This essay reviews the recent literature and considers a number of proposals and their problems. It concludes that we can make the PTO better, but are unlikely to solve the problem of bad patents.

Keywords: intellectual property, patent, PTO, patent reform

JEL Classification: O34

Suggested Citation

Lemley, Mark A., Can the Patent Office Be Fixed? (August 29, 2010). Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 396. Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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

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