Allowance rates are a great place to begin to predict how patent prosecution is going to unfold. Even before filing, looking into the percentage of applications that are allowed by relevant art units and your assigned patent examiner can provide valuable insight. Lower allowance rates indicate a difficult path to allowance, while higher allowance rate suggest a better chance that a patent will issue. Use these rates to communicate to your client the risks involved in pursuing prosecution and the measures that might be necessary to overcome a final office action from your patent examiner.
Office Action Statistics
Your patent examiner’s office action statistics are some of the best indicators of the time and money needed to prosecute your patent application. Each patent examiner is different in how they approach examination, but regardless of which patent examiner you have, every office action you face is going to set your client back thousands of dollars, and could tack on several months to the time your patent application spends in prosecution. Knowing the average number of office actions your patent examiner requires before allowing patent applications to grant will allow you to manage your client’s expectations, budget more wisely, and will motivate you to develop a patent strategy to keep your office actions to a minimum.
Where office action statistics address the quantity of rejections you are likely to face, rejection statistics address the likely substance of those rejections. Rejection statics can clue you into the types of rejections that previous applications faced from your assigned art unit or patent examiner during first, non-final, and final office actions. This information can be used to identify the rejections that you are most likely to face and to assess the strength of the arguments in favor of your invention’s patentability.
Average Prosecution Times
The amount of time patent applications spend in prosecution varies greatly. As a result, the best way to predict how long patent prosecution will take is to determine how long patent prosecution took for other patent applications assigned to your patent examiner. Knowing how long the patent process is likely to take, and having other time-based information – such as how much time will pass before an office action is received – allows you to make accurate predictions for your clients, and to set clear targets for prosecuting your patent application as expeditiously as possible.
You might be surprised by the impact an interview with a patent examiner can have on the course of prosecution. Patent analysis software can tell you what percentage of applications involved at least one interview with an examiner before issuance or abandonment, and what the next significant event was that followed the interview. If that next significant event was the application’s allowance, you have just discovered a simple, inexpensive action that you can take to increase your patent application’s odds of being granted.
Appeal and RCE Statistics
When your patent examiner’s prosecution statistics indicate a bleak future for your patent application, you may need to consider your contingency plan. Though your options are limited once a final office action is received, patent data can help you determine which option is most viable under the circumstances. Patent analysis software can show you your chances of winning upon appeal, and can provide you with a greater understanding of how an appeal will play out if it is attempted. Alternatively, RCE statistics can indicate that filing an RCE is the best choice to achieve allowance. With appeal and RCE statistics, you have the ability to determine where there is hope for your patent application.
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