Made to Measure:
How an antiquated performance measure leads to bad patents

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The USPTO can address many of its examination problems by bringing its current system for determining examiner performance into the 21st Century. There is no need to continue the current coarse-grained “count” system, which may have made sense when records were kept with paper and pencil, but has no justification now. It has been said that the measure determines the system, and that is certainly the case here.

Equally archaic is the patent fee structure, developed to make it easy for an applicant to determine the amount of the check included with the application. While there is a surcharge for long applications and claims beyond 20, that is only a very limited approximation of the effort required to examine the application. And even those surcharges aren’t considered when determining examiner performance.

This paper has been submitted to the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society.

This page was last revised on October 31, 2007.

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