Are Your USPTO Patent Applications Stuck in a Low Allowance Art Unit?

December 21, 2016 Tara Klamrowski

For companies with diverse, complex patent portfolios, it can be challenging to keep track of how well applications are performing in their respective art units. LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® makes this easy by using patent analytics to automatically monitor art unit trends and patterns. These analytics can provide you with the insight you need to optimize your prosecution strategy and get the best return on investment for your patent portfolio.

The PatentAdvisor™ art unit search engine allows you to look up analytics reports on any art unit. Each report yields a detailed analysis of a wide variety of statistics, including allowance rates broken down by patent examiner, allowance rates broken down by year, the average number of office actions, RCE rates, appeal outcomes and more. These comprehensive reports give you an efficient way to quickly analyze the performance of groups of applications to determine if they are part of a low allowance art unit.

Below is a sample timeline from a report on Art Unit 3689 Data Processing: Financial, Business Practice, Management, or Cost/Price Determination. 3689 currently has an allowance rate of 6.7%, making it one of the lowest allowance art units in any tech center. This is not entirely surprising, given the increase in 101 rejections for business method patent application post- Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l. However, by further breaking down this art unit’s allowance rates into a year-by-year progression, you can gain deeper insight into how Alice has impacted recent applications in 3689.

Year-by-Year Breakdown of Art Unit 3689

 

According to the breakdown for AU 3689, pending applications skyrocketed in 2014, coinciding with the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice. Additionally, while allowance rates for this art unit were never high, not a single application has matured into a patent from 2015 until the present. Stalled pending applications coupled with a 0% allowance rate for the past two years may prompt you to reevaluate your prosecution strategy with regard to any applications or groups of applications under this art unit and similar art units.

Yet, if you do find that you have applications in a low allowance art unit like 3689, PatentAdvisor can also help you get your applications closer to allowance by leveraging other types of examination and prosecution metrics. For example, you can filter applications in an art unit by patented applications, providing you with examples of successful applicants. You can then use the PatentAdvisor PatDocSearch™ tool to research materials associated with those successful applications, like office action responses. The information contained in these responses may clue you in on the best way to respond to a similar office action rejection from your examiner. You may uncover a previously undiscovered argument or precedent that may bring your application closer to allowance. By using PatDocSearch to identify and study the outliers, you can learn how theses applicants succeeded where so many others had failed.

Another option is to use LexisNexis PathWays™, this tool predicts the path your application is likely to take at the USPTO. PathWays, a highly sophisticated patent classification engine, offers insight and unique visualizations of the “character” of art units to which your application is most likely to be assigned. It helps guide you toward the best potential art unit by helping you draft your application so it aligns with the art unit that represents the best fit for your patent. Using this feature in conjunction with PatDocSearch and PatentAdvisor art unit reports can help you ensure your applications do not remain stuck in low allowance art units.

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