Shorter Patent Pendency Without Sacrificing Quality: The Use of Examiner's Amendments at the USPTO
84 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019 Last revised: 8 Nov 2021
Date Written: June 1, 2019
Prior research argues that USPTO first-action allowance rates increase with examiner seniority and experience, suggesting lower patent quality. However, we show that the increased use of examiner's amendments account for this prior empirical finding. Further, the mechanism reduces patent pendency by up to fifty percent while having no impact on patent quality, and therefore likely benefits innovators and firms. Our analysis suggests that the policy prescriptions in the literature regarding modifying examiner time allocations should be reconsidered. In particular, rather than re-configuring time allocations for every examination promotion level, researchers and stakeholders should focus on the variation in outcomes between junior and senior examiners and on increasing training for examiner's amendment use as a solution for patent grant delay.
Keywords: patent pendency, examiner incentives, productivity, cosine similarity, patent examiner
JEL Classification: O3, O31, O38, J22, J24
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