Low-Quality Patents in the Eye of the Beholder: Evidence from Multiple Examiners

07 March 2017

In this paper, the authors propose a new way of measuring patent quality, based on twin patent applications granted at one office but refused at another office, applied to the five largest patent offices. This method allows to distinguish low-quality patents issued because an office has a low standard from patents issued in violation of an office’s own standard, however high or low (so-called ‘weak patents’ in the scholarly literature). The results suggest that quality in patent systems is higher than previously thought; in particular the percentage of ‘weak’ patents is in single digits for all offices, although the U.S. patent office’s performance is poorer than those of Europe and Japan.

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