Getting Patents: Is Agent Quality More Important Than Invention Quality?
28 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 2019
For a patent system to be socially efficient, it should only grant patents to inventions that are non-obvious. We analyse patent examination decisions at the U.S. Patent Office (with comparisons to four other major patent offices) and find evidence that agent quality is a more important determinant of patent grant than the quality of the invention. Agent quality is particularly important in less codified and more rapidly changing technology areas such as software and ICT. Moreover, agent quality is more important when invention quality is low. The surprisingly large importance of agent quality suggests that the patent system may help maintain the uneven playing field rather than levelling it.
Keywords: appropriation, innovation, patent law firm, patent system
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