NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Fixing the Patent Office

Mark A. Lemley

NBER Working Paper No. 18081
Issued in May 2012
NBER Program(s):   PR

How can we allow patent examiners to effectively distinguish between patentable and unpatentable inventions, without slowing the process to a crawl or wasting a bunch of money? This essay reviews the recent literature and considers a number of proposals and their limitations. It concludes that the system can be improved, but that we are unlikely to solve the problem of bad patents altogether. The focus in reform discussions should be on understanding and changing applicant and examiner incentives rather than simply spending money.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18081

Published: Fixing the Patent Office, Mark A. Lemley. in Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, Lerner and Stern. 2013

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