Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents?: Evidence from Micro-Level Application Data

93 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2014 Last revised: 28 Oct 2015

Michael Frakes

Duke University School of Law

Melissa F. Wasserman

The University of Texas at Austin - School of Law

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Date Written: July 16, 2014

Abstract

We explore how examiner behavior is altered by the time allocated for reviewing patent applications. Insufficient examination time may hamper examiner search and rejection efforts, leaving examiners more inclined to grant invalid applications. To test this prediction, we use application-level data to trace the behavior of individual examiners over the course of a series of promotions that carry with them reductions in examination-time allocations. We find evidence emonstrating that such promotions are associated with reductions in examination scrutiny and increases in granting tendencies, as well as evidence that those additional patents being issued on the margin are of below-average quality.

Keywords: U.S. Patent Office, patent examiner, over granting, time allocations

Suggested Citation

Frakes, Michael and Wasserman, Melissa F., Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents?: Evidence from Micro-Level Application Data (July 16, 2014). Review of Economics and Statistics, Forthcoming; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 14-39; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 14-16; Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS14-39; Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 14-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2467262 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2467262

Michael Frakes

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Melissa F. Wasserman (Contact Author)

The University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton St
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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