The USPTO Patent Examination Research Dataset: A Window on the Process of Patent Examination
119 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016
Date Written: November 2015
A surprisingly small amount of empirical research has been focused on the process of obtaining a patent grant from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). One major reason for this lack of research has been the paucity of readily-available data on the examination of applications. The purpose of this data release is to rectify this situation by making data from the Public Patent Application Information Retrieval system (Public PAIR) more readily available to researchers and other stakeholders, in accordance with the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative. The data included in this data release are complete as of January 24, 2015 for all applications included in Public PAIR with filing dates prior to January 1, 2015. In order to be included in Public PAIR an application must be open to inspection by the public. A significant section of this documentation describes the selectivity issues that arise from the omission of “nonpublic” applications. We find that the selectivity issues were much more pronounced for applications received prior to the implementation of the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) in late 2000. The AIPA included provisions for the publication of applications prior to grant, thus increasing the inclusivity of Public PAIR for applications received by PTO starting in late November of that year. We also find that the extent of any selectivity bias will be at least partially determined by the sub-population of interest in any given research project. For instance, if a researcher was interested in studying the examination histories of issued patents, the selectivity issue would be of minimal concern. On the other end of the spectrum, using the Public PAIR data to study provisional applications would be more problematic.
Keywords: Patents, Intellectual Property
JEL Classification: O3, L1, L2, G2, G3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation