Rational Ignorance at the Patent Office

  title={Rational Ignorance at the Patent Office},
  author={Mark A. Lemley},
  journal={Northwestern University Law Review},
  • Mark A. Lemley
  • Published 1 February 2001
  • Economics
  • Northwestern University Law Review
It is common to assert that the Patent and Trademark Office does a bad job of examining patents, and that it should spend more time and money weeding out bad patents. In this article, Professor Lemley challenges that conventional wisdom. Using available data regarding the cost and incidence of patent prosecution, litigation, licensing and other uses of patents, he demonstrates that strengthening the examination process is not cost effective. The core insight is that very few patents are… 
Process as Purpose: Administrative Procedure, Costly Screens and Examination at the Patent Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has, by this point, acquired a well-deserved reputation for ineptitude and inefficiency. Patent examiners do a remarkably poor job of screening out
Inventors and Impostors: an Economic Analysis of Patent Examination
The objective of patent examination is to separate the wheat from the chaff. Good applications - those satisfying the patentability criteria, particularly novelty and nonobviousness - should be
The Patent Quality Control Process: Can We Afford An (Rationally) Ignorant Patent Office?
This paper considers patent granting as a two-tiered process, which consists of patent office examination (public enforcement) and court challenges (private enforcement). It argues that, when the
Why Weak Patents? Rational Ignorance or Pro-'Customer' Tilt?
The issuance of weak patents is widely viewed as a fundamental problem in the current US patent system. Reasons that have been offered for the granting of weak patents by the US Patent and Trademark
Private Profits and Public Benefits - How not to Reform the Patent System
The need for a reform of the US patent system has been widely expressed, both by scientists and practitioners. There are widespread complaints about the quality of granted patents, especially the
In Defense of the Patent Friendly Court Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence
This paper studies the puzzle of what caused the surge in US patenting in the 1980s. I first argue that, under the standard view of patents, where value depends only on the appropriable rents created
Patent Infringement, Litigation, and Settlement
We propose a model that integrates a series of events regarding patent rights based on real option framework. After the incumbent has acquired a patent, it can be infringed by the challenger, and the
Patent Screening, Innovation, and Welfare
Critics claim that patent screening is ineffective, granting low-quality patents that impose unnecessary social costs. We develop an integrated framework, involving patent office examination, fees,
Patent office in innovation policy: Nobody's perfect
CPC 04-46 Probabilistic Patents
Economists often assume that a patent gives its owner a well-defined legal right to exclude others from practicing the invention described in the patent. In practice, however, the rights afforded to


Attorney's Fee Awards in Federal Copyright Litigation After Fogerty v. Fantasy: Defendants are Winning Fees More Often, but the New Standard Still Favors Prevailing Plaintiffs
  • Comment
  • 2000