Comparative Patent Quality

68 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2016 Last revised: 3 May 2018

Date Written: September 1, 2016


One of the most urgent problems with the US patent system is that there are too many patents of poor quality. Most blame the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – its mistakes, overly generous grant rate, and lack of consistency. But, the quality and quantity of patents in force is the product of three sets of decisions: to submit an application of certain quality (by the applicant), to grant the patent (by the patent office), and to renew a patent and keep it in force (by the applicant/patentee). Startling, there is no consensus way to measure patent quality. This article addresses these shortcomings by developing new, comparative ways to measure patent quality, using the benchmark of the European Patent Office (EPO), viewed as the “gold standard” for patent quality. Tracking the progress of patent submissions, grants, and renewals, including of close to 100,000 applications filed at both the EPO and USPTO, it reveals subtle and thus far overlooked differences with implications for how the US should implement and prioritize improvements to patent quality.

Keywords: Patents, patent quality

Suggested Citation

Chien, Colleen V., Comparative Patent Quality (September 1, 2016). 50 Arizona State Law Journal 71 (2018), Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 2016-13, Available at SSRN: or

Colleen V. Chien (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley School of Law ( email )

302 JSP
2240 Piedmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-664-5254 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics