Allowance rates for patent applications as one indicator of effectiveness

Treading into an area full of unknowns for me, I note from Exec. Counsel, April/May 2010 at 26, some data about USPTO rates for allowing patents. “The allowance rate varied only slightly from 2005 to 2007, from 55 percent to 52 percent.” However, after a blockbuster decision by the US Supreme Court on patent “obviousness,” the allowance rate plummeted to 44.2 percent in 2008 and further to 41 percent in mid-2009.

Many factors determine disallowances by patent examiners, but at least this data gives a chief patent counsel a crude yardstick to measure the performance of those who prepare and file patent applications. I do not know enough to say whether a patent lawyer who beats the disallowance percentage has for that reason alone done better, but at least a metric is available to judge one aspect of performance and results.

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