Fixing the Patent Office

18 Pages Posted: 19 May 2012 Last revised: 27 Oct 2014

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2012


How can we allow patent 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 limitations. It concludes that the system can be improved, but that we are unlikely to solve the problem of bad patents altogether. The focus in reform discussions should be on understanding and changing applicant and examiner incentives rather than simply spending money.

Suggested Citation

Lemley, Mark A., Fixing the Patent Office (May 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18081, Available at SSRN:

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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

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