Document Type


Publication Date



WVU College of Law


Conventional wisdom argues that unnecessary litigation of low quality patents hinders innovation, and that the PTO could play a role with its high grant rates. Accordingly, it is important to answer these questions: (1) which patent examiners are issuing litigated patents, (2) are examiners who are "rubber stamping" patents issuing litigated patents at a disproportionately higher rate, and (3) are examiners with less experience issuing more litigated patents? In sum, do patent examiners who issue litigated patents have common characteristics? Intuition would argue that those examiners who issue the most patents (approximately one patent every three business days) would exhibit a higher litigation rate. Surprisingly, this study suggests that this is wrong. This study uses two new patent databases that code for nearly 1.7 million patents and approximately 12,000 patents that were litigated between 2010 and 2011. This study determined that (1) litigated patents mainly come from primary examiners (those examiners with more experience), and (2) primary examiners with between three to five years of experience and who grant between forty-five and sixty patents per year are contributing to the litigated patent pool at a higher rate than expected. Interestingly, the highest volume primary examiners (examiners who on average grant more than eighty patents per year and have more than eight years of experience) do better than expected.

Original Publication Title

Stanford Technology Law Review

Source Citation

17 Stan. Tech. L. Rev. 507



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