Why weak patents? Testing the examiner ignorance hypothesis

Zhen Lei, Brian D. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is a widespread impression, reflected in recent legislation, that US Patent Office examiners issue many patents of dubious validity, and are insufficiently informed to distinguish these from other valid applications. We address this issue using related application outcomes at the European Patent Office as indicators for patent weakness. We create a proxy for potentially citable prior art using latent semantic analysis of US patent documents, and use this to construct a measure of examiner search effort. We find that US examiners tend to devote more search effort to weaker patents, implying that they can identify a substantial portion of the weak patents that they issue. Why the patent system fails to make better use of examiners’ ability to identify weak patents is a question that merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Volume148
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

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Ignorance
Patents
Testing
Latent semantic analysis
Legislation
Art
European Patent Office
Patent system

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

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Why weak patents? Testing the examiner ignorance hypothesis. / Lei, Zhen; Wright, Brian D.

In: Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 148, 01.04.2017, p. 43-56.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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