Over the past several years, improving patent quality has become a high priority for IP stakeholders, patent practitioners and the USPTO. Major changes to the landscape of patent prosecution, such as the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank and the implementation of the PTAB and IPR procedures under the America Invents Act, have prompted the creation of a new paradigm for how we measure the health of our patent system. Even the USPTO is looking to participate, releasing its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative in 2015 “to ensure [the Office] continue[s] issuing high quality patents well into the future.”
While it is easy to agree that improving patent quality is a step in the right direction, it is challenging to define universal standards for what patent quality is and how it can best be measured. Fortunately, patent analytics have made this easier than ever before. Analytics can help uncover subtle, more nuanced key performance indicators (KPIs) that may provide deeper insight into the strength of a patent portfolio.
Traditionally, prosecution efficiency means how quickly a given patent application moves through the examination pipeline from filing to final disposition. However, efficiency can also mean how much effort it takes to move an application along. For example, a two-year pendency with two office actions versus a two-year pendency with four office actions can mean the difference between thousands of dollars spent and many hours for patent practitioners. Analytics can help track the number of office actions a particular application faces and compare it to office averages in order to determine how efficiently that application is moving through the examination process.
Patent analytics can also help you discover less well-known efficiency KPIs, such as examiner interview rates. According to LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® analytics, applications where examiner interviews are conducted are more likely to make it to allowance, minimizing the chance of costly appeal or RCE filings.
(2) Economic Value
A patent’s economic value can be measured by its potential to be licensed or sold, and also by how effectively the scope of the patent differentiates the underlying invention from competing technology. For example, companies can use patent analytics to compare their patent portfolios to those of their competitors in order to quickly identify applications that protect technology that may provide a significant market advantage or may create a niche market for future product offerings. The bottom line—the higher the percentage of patents that create a market advantage, the higher the quality of the portfolio.
(3) Scope of Protection
Understanding how well the scope of a patent application protects the underlying invention and potential avenues of future expansion can help patent practitioners and stakeholders evaluate yet another aspect of patent quality. Patent applications that have the right scope of protection, not overly broad (which can make the patent susceptible to challenges from third parties) or unnecessarily narrow (which may inadequately protect potential valuable uses of the invention), can greatly enhance the quality of a portfolio.
PatentAdvisor™ can assist patent attorneys and stakeholders in identifying high allowance art units for their applications. High allowance art units may offer applicants a more direct path to allowance, decreasing the likelihood of rejections or narrowing amendments and helping applicants maintain an acceptable scope of protection for their applications.
PatentAdvisor™ provides IP professionals with a patent analytics platform that can help track and improve patent application and portfolio quality. With the ability to create reports based on tailored KPIs, PatentAdvisor makes it simple to define patent quality benchmarks and measure improvement.