Patent Examiner Specialization

39 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Cesare Righi

Cesare Righi

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business; NBER

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2017

Abstract

We study the matching of patent applications to examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Using test statistics originally developed to identify industry agglomeration, we find strong evidence that examiners specialize in particular technologies, even within relatively homogeneous art units. Examiner specialization is more pronounced in the biotechnology and chemistry fields, and less in computers and software. Evidence of specialization becomes weaker, but does not completely disappear, if we condition on technology sub-classes. There is no evidence that certain examiners specialize in applications that have greater importance or broader claims. More specialized examiners have a lower grant rate and produce a larger narrowing of claim-scope during the examination process. We discuss implications for instrumental variables based on examiner characteristics.

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Suggested Citation

Righi, Cesare and Simcoe, Timothy S., Patent Examiner Specialization (October 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23913, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3049737

Cesare Righi (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Jaume I building, room 20.1E34
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://www.crighi.com

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://www.crighi.com

Timothy S. Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

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Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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