State of Innovation

Patent Office Allowance Rate Falls to 42%


According to the AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Association) the allowance rate for patent applications in the U.S. fell to 42% in the first quarter of 2009.

This continues the trend of falling allowance rates that started in 2002. Why has the allowance rate changed so dramatically in the last six years?  Sometime early in this decade, the USPTO started to define the “quality” of examinations by the allowance rate.  The USPTO tracks the allowance rate of every examiner and grades the quality of their examinations by their allowance rate.  If one examiner’s allowance rate is higher than the average allowance rate of the group they work in, their examination of applications will be considered to be of lower quality.  If an examiner never allows any patent applications, they will be considered to have the highest quality examinations.  This has created a perverse incentive for examiners.

For an update on the allowance rate click here.