The importance of reviewing statistics within an individual art unit

By Steve Brachmann
May 22, 2017

Businesses focused on tech development which are actively filing patent applications are well aware of the art units which are most important to them. Access to data on how successful other businesses or law firms are when prosecuting patent applications within a specific art unit; however, is truly valuable information. For example, law firms will often advertise their allowance rate across all art units at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but this statistic can be incredibly misleading as allowance rates vary greatly from one art unit to another. A more effective business strategy would be to partner with law firms earning high allowance rates within key art units that are pertinent to a selected business. Conversely, law firms who can show great success within an art unit relative to other firms should be able to better market their services.

Using LexisNexis PatentAdvisor®, statistics were collected on recent activity within Art Unit 1655, which covers drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions. Overall, this Art Unit has an allowance rate of 54.3%, meaning that slightly under half of all patent applications filed in this art unit do not result in a patent grant. Clearly, one cannot wade into the waters of Art Unit 1655 without a solid strategy for staying afloat. The average amount of time between the first Office Action to a Notice of Allowance is just over one year and eight months.

Interestingly, some companies in this sector do exceedingly well at converting their innovative concepts into actual IP assets. Cosmetic marketing company Mary Kay, for example, only had a total of 46 patent applications in this art unit but enjoys a 94.4% allowance rate with 34 patents granted, another 10 patent applications pending and only two patent applications abandoned. None of these patent applications have required Mary Kay to file two or more requests for continued examination. Mary Kay’s time from first Office Action to a Notice of Allowance is only one year and four days, a full eight months less than the average timing for this art unit. Other companies with high allowance rates include beauty product developer Avon (90%) and beverage company POM Wonderful (90.9%).


By contrast, some companies are not nearly as successful as this, indicating the need for reassessing their partners and legal strategy within this Art Unit. Japanese company, Shiseido, had an allowance rate of 26.7% over 23 patent application cases with 11 abandoned applications, including two which were abandoned after at least two requests for continued examination were filed to continue prosecution. Even large companies with many years of experience in the field don’t always have the most successful patent prosecution strategies. Johnson & Johnson, for example, has a 75% allowance rate but an average time from first Office Action to allowance of two years and nine months. Six of its 18 patent grants required two or more requests for continued examination. If your company sees this kind of turbulence within this Art Unit, you are granting a competitive advantage to other businesses.

LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® also yields insights into law firm statistics, giving firms a strong grasp on their own success within an Art Unit for business development purposes. In Art Unit 1655, international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has the most consistent success with a 72.1% rate of allowance. None of the 49 grants resulting from patent applications prosecuted by this firm required two or more requests for continued examination, and only one of 19 abandoned patent applications received two or more such requests. The firm’s average time from first office action to a notice of allowance is 14 months and 20 days, among the lowest of all firms. No other law firm in this art unit saw an allowance rate which was greater than 62.5%.

Both businesses and law firms alike can get ahead of the competition when they use data analytics to determine the best way forward for their patent prosecution interests. PatentAdvisor can help subscribers determine better partners for building stronger patent portfolios, converting data analysis into more effective legal strategies.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He has become a regular contributor to IPWatchdog.com, writing about technology, innovation and is the primary author of the Companies We Follow series. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. Joachim Martillo May 22, 2017 8:47 am

    It might be worthwhile to provide finer grained statistics that cover external patent prosecutors and in-house counsel.

  2. Anon May 22, 2017 9:34 am

    The comparative analysis should also have some gauge as to the level of aggressiveness vis a vis risk/reward as chosen by the client.

    Comparing apples and oranges will not be fruitful.

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