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Posts Tagged: "allowances"

Winning Strategies for Getting Past the Five Types of Patent Examiner

Any patent attorney knows that each patent examiner can vary greatly in approach to examination. In this article, five different types of patent examiners and suggest prosecution strategies for each to help you get better outcomes for your clients.

Visualizing Outcome Inconsistency at the USPTO

In an ideal world, your chance of getting a patent allowed is based on the merits of your patent application and independent of the largely random assignment of the patent examiner.  As any patent attorney knows, however, this is not the case.  Some examiners allow patents too easily and others seem predisposed against allowing any patents at all… The patent application grant rate across the USPTO is 66%.  One would expect that a distribution of examiner grant rates would follow a bell-like curve with a reasonably small standard deviation, but that is not what the data shows.

Alternative Routes to Protection of Innovation

Every year different groups provide rankings of patent prosecution law firms and a company’s patent count for the year.  Patent law firms will tout their rankings based upon the number of filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the number of allowances they obtained for clients over the previous year.  And companies will boast about their patent prowess based upon the size of their portfolios. But things are changing. Innovative algorithms and even diagnostic methods may be easier and more effectively protected by trade secret.  Trade secret protection avoids the uncertainty of compliance with the vague patentability standard set forth by the Supreme Court.

Innovative Use of Patent Examiner Statistics Improves Efficiency and Strengthens Portfolios

We recently handled an application in which the examiner rejected the independent claims as obvious in view of six references from a variety of different fields. Submitting arguments in response to the Office Action did not convince the examiner to withdraw the rejection. We checked the examiner’s allowance rate and noticed it to be 30% below the average for the examiner’s art unit. Considering this and other factors, we recommended appeal to the client and provided the examiner’s statistics in support of our recommendation. The client was appreciative that we backed up our recommendation with data, and was convinced that the outlook for continuing prosecution with the examiner was not promising. The client authorized an appeal. Upon submission of our Appeal Brief, the examiner elected not to maintain the rejection, and instead issued a Notice of Allowance. That client has since asked that we consider examiner statistics routinely for other cases.

Is there a Tide-Change in the Prospects of Patenting Business Method Innovations?

In the years after the Alice decision, it had seemed as though examiners in the business method art units felt as though their hands were tied with respect to issuing applications. Even if they had recommended an application for allowance, it was often sent back by quality review with an indication that a patent-eligibility rejection should be made or maintained. However, in early 2017 – at least with respect to a handful of applications – examiners’ perspectives seem to have changed, where they were more willing to work with the applicants to find eligible claim material and/or suitable arguments to be put on the record that would suffice for an allowance… While we note that the business method allowance prospects still remain substantially below those in other Technology Centers, the beyond-doubling of this statistic is of practical significance.

The importance of reviewing statistics within an individual art unit

We collected statistics 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… 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… By contrast… Japanese company, Shiseido, had an allowance rate of 26.7%…

A Pre-Appeal Brief Conference is a Winning Strategy, Even if it Probably Won’t Lead to Allowance

After several articles and webinars discussing appeals outcomes at the USPTO, we have received numerous requests for Pre-Appeal Brief Conference data to explain how advantageous the program really is for applicants. Using the vast data resources of our system and Public PAIR, we studied all appeals from January 1, 2006 (six months after the program was instituted), to the present day, including pending PBC cases. For the purposes of this article, we were chiefly concerned with the overall effect that a PBC had on the outcome of an appeal. As such, we have indicated that a PBC ended with a “decision for applicant” when the application was either allowed or prosecution was reopened following a PBC decision, regardless of whether the decision was due to the PBC decision itself or a subsequent pre-appeal brief office action. What we found was that, while few PBCs result in an allowance from the PBC decision itself, they have a net positive effect on an application’s overall appeals success. An explanation of our findings follows.

A Better Way to File Patent Applications

The PathWays system is designed to help applicants predict which art units an application is likely to be filed before the application is even filed. A unique semantic search algorithm compares user submitted text to weighted key words derived from an exhaustive collection of application documents clustered in each USPTO art unit.

Innovation America: Patent Applications and Allowances by State

Looking at raw numbers, California was by far the most inventive state, with over 329,000 non-design patents filed, over 254,000 disposed, and over 180,000 allowed between 2000 and 2010. Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington rounded out the top five, but together had fewer applications, disposed applications, and allowed applications than California alone. The states with the highest allowance rates were Vermont (84%), Idaho (77%), Kansas (74%), Washington (74%) and Iowa (73%).

Want to Increase Your Chance of Allowance by 19 Percentage Points? That’ll be $4,000

Perhaps the most shocking difference between Track One applications and standard applications is allowance rate. Standard applications have an allowance rate of 70%; however, Track One applications are approved 89% of the time. Put another way, a Track One application is 19 percentage points more likely to receive an allowance than a standard application.

Art Units in Misc. Computer Applications Have 72% Allowance

This all means that the “business method Art Units” are not the only ones charged with examining applications covering computer-implemented methods. In fact, there are Art Units where from a patentee perspective you would really rather be assigned because they have allowance rates in excess of 70%. In fact, one cluster of Art Units identified as covering “Miscellaneous Computer Applications,” which by class is assigned to data processing, has an allowance rate of 72.2% according to data available via PatentAdvisor™.

The David Kappos Era at the USPTO

if you ask me the Kappos legacy is not going to be the America Invents Act. The Kappos legacy will be that he managed to put the USPTO back on track. The agency is open for business and is issuing patents. It is odd to say it, but the USPTO had become so dysfunctional over the years that the allowance rate had slipped to never before seen lows. The feeling was that the USPTO was the “No Patent for You Office,” which did nothing to help foster the growth of innovation, and more importantly jobs.

Allowance Rates for Art Units Examining Business Methods

If I were a patent examiner that hadn’t issued patents for years I wouldn’t want anyone to know that either. Similarly, if I were a Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE) in an Art Unit that routinely only issued patents after a long drawn out appeal process that resulted in the Board overturning the rejections I wouldn’t want the public to know about that either. Sadly, this type of gaming exists at the Patent Office. There are examiners who only rarely issue patents and Art Units that openly tell patent attorneys that they don’t issue patents unless ordered to do so by the Board. Knowing that this happens, which is supported by hard data, makes it impossible to tolerate the anti-patent zealots who routinely opine about just how easy it is to get a software or business method patent issued. Really? You have to be kidding!

Track One By the Numbers. What are you Waiting for?

The USPTO has returned to the historical philosophy that patent examiners should work cooperatively with patent applicants to identify allowable subject matter and issue patents on what is allowable, not just focusing on rejection after rejection after rejection. While there are quite a few positive changes, with more in the works, Track One is by far the most successful policy initiative that has come to bear during the Kappos Administration. The only problem with Track One is that more applicants are not using it! What are you waiting for? A look at the numbers shows that Track One is a huge success and ought to be employed far more than it has been.

A Patent Bigfoot? The Mythical First Action Allowances DO Exist!

Top 50 Law Firms with the most first action allowances according to PatentCore data. But where are these first action allowances coming from? All over the Patent Office really. They occur with plants (1661), organic compounds (1621, 1625, 1626), batteries (1725), active solid state devices (2818), electrical generators or motors (2834), optical systems and elements (2873), optics measuring and testing (2877), vehicle fenders (3612), data processing (3661), aeronautics and astronautics (3662), internal combustion engines (3748), valves (3751, 3753) and elsewhere throughout the USPTO.