A Board Certified Patent Attorney

Patent Application Quantity Not an Accurate Indication of Patent Quality

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Hats off to Mark Reichel of The Daily Dose of IP Blog for his post regarding the U.S. Patent Office discontinuing its annual top ten patent holder list.

In the Patent Office press release, the PTO announced that it will no longer be publishing its annual ranking of the top 10 organizations obtaining the most U.S. patents in the preceeding year.According to the press release, it is abandoning the list of top ten patent holders and "emphasizing quality over qualtity by discouraging any perception that we believe more is better."

About time. I always wondered why the patent office focused so much attention on their "top ten list" as all it really did was provide those few "repeat customers" lucky enough to be in the "top ten" with bragging rights on their level of innovation.

I wonder if the patent office’s departure from this "strictly by the numbers" approach is the beginning of a new trend in the intellectual property field.  Are we finally able to look beyond the total number of patents in any defined segment before making broad generalizations based upon that number.

For example, as long as I can remember, the well known publication, Intellectual Property Today has tabulate its "Top Patent Law Firm" and "Top Trademark Law Firm" listings based EXCLUSIVELY on the number of patents and trademarks these firms obtained for their clients in any given year.

The law firms near the top of this list invariably (like their corporate counterparts in the PTO’s top ten listings) used their ranking in IP Today’s top ten lists in their marketing materials.

Perhaps such marketing efforts are persuasive–I don’t know–but I welcome comments from in-house patent counsel as to what weight, if any, the IP Today annual top firm survey has on their choice of private patent or trademark counsel.

(As an aside: I am currently considering corrective laser eye surgery to eliminate my having to wear glasses and have narrowed my choice of surgeons down to a handful in the Fort Lauderdale / Miami Florida area—let me tell you…the number of eyes ZAPPED per year per doctor is not on my list of criteria!)

I am sure that rankings that go "strictly by the numbers" is the easiest and least controversial method of publishing listings of law firms and the PTO’s top ten list.  But just because something is the "easiest and least controversial" does not mean that it is faultless.  From the perspective of a Florida patent attorney, I fail to see how a ranking by the numbers provides any indication of quality (as in the listings of patent law firms) or of innovation (as in the PTO’s top ten listings).

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