7 Do Heightened Quality Incentives Improve the Quality of Patentability Decisions?
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Do Heightened Quality Incentives Improve the Quality of Patentability Decisions?

Co-Authored by Eric D. Blatt for American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Quarterly Journal

July 20, 2018PDF

Associate Eric D. Blatt co-authored an article titled "Do Heightened Quality Incentives Improve the Quality of Patentability Decisions?: An Analysis of Trend Divergences During the Signatory Authority Review Program" published in the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Quarterly Journal 46-2.

An abstract of the article can be found below. 

"Despite widespread consensus that the quality of patentability determinations must be improved, there has been no agreement as to how this objective should be pursued. A lack of understanding as to the effects of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) production and quality incentive policies may have presented a barrier to such agreement. This Article aims to close this gap by (1) detailing the system of production and quality incentives under which examiners ordinarily operate and (2) analyzing divergences in examiner decision-making trends while examiners are undergoing the Signatory Authority Review Program (the “Program”) and subject to heightened quality incentives.

The USPTO utilizes a complex system to measure and incentivize examiners’ quantitative productivity, but it has no equivalent tool to ensure that examiners maintain high-quality standards in their written patentability determinations. A lack of meaningful quality incentives may lead examiners to sacrifice quality to maximize production. Consistent with this prediction, the authors find that when examiners are on the Program and subject to heightened quality-incentives, they respond by increasing the quality of their patentability determinations, even as they must simultaneously increase their quantitative productivity. In particular, the authors find that when heightened quality incentives are applied, examiners issue fewer allowances, provoke fewer appeals, and issue more second action non-final rejections. Taken together, these findings indicate that reforming USPTO incentive policies may represent a valuable opportunity to improve patent quality and that a degree of quality gains may be achievable without substantial sacrifices to quantitative productivity."

To read the article published in the AIPLA Quarterly Journal 46-2 in its entirety, please on the PDF icon above, or click here.

To read an overview of the AIPLA article as published by Law360, please click here.