The Unintended Consequences of Crowd-Sourced Patent Examination

43 Pages Posted: 24 May 2017 Last revised: 2 Mar 2018

See all articles by Jin-Hyuk Kim

Jin-Hyuk Kim

University of Colorado at Boulder

Benjamin Hav Mitra-Kahn

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - IP Australia

Date Written: February 2018

Abstract

There have been repeated calls for improving the quality of patent examination, and reducing backlogs, at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. One program aimed to address this, piloted between 2007 and 2009, sought to crowd-source information for patent examiners to help them examine emerging technology patents. Since then, calls have been made to re-instate, expand or globalize this program, but there has not been a systematic study of the causal links between program participation and the final outcome of the patent applications. By comparing the participating applications to a control group, we show that the program marginally reduced the incidence of patent allowance but not because of the crowd-sourced input. Rather the program led applicants to file more requests for continued examination, which resulted in a doubling of the examiner's search effort. Hence, both participating applicants and the office incurred higher cost and longer delays at no additional benefit.

Keywords: Patent Examination, Patent Office, Open Government, Crowdsourcing

JEL Classification: H83, L17, O34, O38

Suggested Citation

Kim, Jin-Hyuk and Mitra-Kahn, Benjamin Hav, The Unintended Consequences of Crowd-Sourced Patent Examination (February 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2972251 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2972251

Jin-Hyuk Kim (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Benjamin Hav Mitra-Kahn

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - IP Australia ( email )

PO Box 200
Woden, ACT 2606
United States

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