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Examiner Characteristics and Patent Office Outcomes

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  • Mark A. Lemley

    (Stanford Law School and Durie Tangri LLP)

  • Bhaven Sampat

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

In this paper, we show that there are important differences across patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We show that more experienced examiners cite less prior art, are more likely to grant patents, and are more likely to grant patents without any rejections. These results suggest that the most important decisions made by the patent office are significantly affected by the happenstance of which examiner gets an application. They also point to human resource policies as potentially important levers, hitherto neglected, in patent system reform. © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark A. Lemley & Bhaven Sampat, 2012. "Examiner Characteristics and Patent Office Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 817-827, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:94:y:2012:i:3:p:817-827
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    Cited by:

    1. Lei, Zhen & Wright, Brian D., 2017. "Why weak patents? Testing the examiner ignorance hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 43-56.
    2. Corinne Langinier & Stephanie Lluis, 2015. "Departure and Promotion of U.S. Patent Examiners: Do Patent Characteristics Matter?," Working Papers 1506, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2015.
    3. Azagra-Caro,Joaquín M. & Tur,Elena M., 2014. "Examiner amendments to applications to the european patent office: Procedures, knowledge bases and country specificities," INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) Working Paper Series 201406, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), revised 12 Jul 2016.
    4. repec:bla:jinfst:v:68:y:2017:i:6:p:1360-1374 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Joan Farre-Mensa & Deepak Hegde & Alexander Ljungqvist, 2017. "What is a Patent Worth? Evidence from the U.S. Patent “Lottery”," NBER Working Papers 23268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. WADA Tetsuo, 2015. "Cognitive Distances in Prior Art Search by the Triadic Patent Offices: Empirical evidence from international search reports," Discussion papers 15096, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    7. Jodi L. Short & Michael W. Toffel & Andrea Read Hugill, 2013. "Monitoring Global Supply Chains," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-032, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2015.
    8. Farre-Mensa, Joan & Hegde, Deepak & Ljungqvist, Alexander P., 2016. "The Bright Side of Patents," CEPR Discussion Papers 11091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. repec:spr:scient:v:111:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2354-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Andrew Eckert & Corinne Langinier, 2014. "A Survey Of The Economics Of Patent Systems And Procedures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(5), pages 996-1015, December.
    11. Adam B. Jaffe & Gaétan de Rassenfosse, 2017. "Patent citation data in social science research: Overview and best practices," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 68(6), pages 1360-1374, June.
    12. Nagler, Markus & Watzinger, Martin & Fackler, Thomas & Schnitzer, Monika, 2016. "Antitrust, Patents, and Cumulative Innovation: Evidence from Bell Labs," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145580, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:9:p:1580-1594 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Petra Moser & Joerg Ohmstedt & Paul W. Rhode, 2015. "Patent Citations and the Size of the Inventive Step - Evidence from Hybrid Corn," NBER Working Papers 21443, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:spr:scient:v:102:y:2015:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-014-1470-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Kim, Bongsun & Kim, Eonsoo & Miller, Douglas J. & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2016. "The impact of the timing of patents on innovation performance," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 914-928.
    17. Sampat, Bhaven N. & Shadlen, Kenneth C., 2017. "Secondary pharmaceutical patenting: A global perspective," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 693-707.
    18. Michael D. Frakes & Melissa F. Wasserman, 2016. "Procrastination in the Workplace: Evidence from the U.S. Patent Office," NBER Working Papers 22987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:5:p:1005-1019 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Tetsuo Wada, 2016. "Obstacles to prior art searching by the trilateral patent offices: empirical evidence from International Search Reports," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 107(2), pages 701-722, May.
    21. Coles, M & Francesconi, M, 2013. "Equilibrium Search and the Impact of Equal Opportunities for Women," Economics Discussion Papers 9010, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    22. Michael Roach & Wesley M. Cohen, 2013. "Lens or Prism? Patent Citations as a Measure of Knowledge Flows from Public Research," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 504-525.

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