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A patent benchmark – percentage of applications filed by internal lawyers

A recent article reports that IBM’s patent attorneys “filed more than 70 percent of the company’s patents in 2008 for software and services.” The article does not say what percentage of Big Blue’s hardware and other patent applications are generated in-house. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, June 2009 at 75, published this figure, which led me to wonder if there is any benchmark for how much patent prep and prosecution is typically done by a company’s lawyers.

My supposition is that the percentage is low, below ten percent, because many companies cannot support a full-time patent counsel, the costs of patent applications have been driven down to a commodity level, and technology development changes relatively rapidly.

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2 responses to “A patent benchmark – percentage of applications filed by internal lawyers”

  1. H says:

    I guess I have a different position on the issue. I have worked at 2 in-house patent departments (both at Fortune 100 CPG companies) and 50% or more of the patent applications were prepared in-house. At my current company, we draft more than 70% of the applications. Prosecution at both companies may be handled by outside counsel but full responses or extensive comments for office actions are prepared and then provided to outside counsel to file.

  2. I’ve also worked with two fortune 500 companies on the inside. In both cases, the law department farmed out drafting of applications for the vast majority of patent applications i.e. 80-95%. In-house counsel were required to file 2-3 cases a year just to keep their skills sharp.