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Archived updates for Monday, December 17, 2007

Impact of IDS Rule Changes Varies by Art Unit

Using a group of 80,000 patents issued in 2006, Professor Crouch at Patehtly-O looked at how the twenty citation limits in the impending Information Disclosure Statement rules might impact the various art units and the USPTO as a whole:

From my sample, 25.1% of issued patents list more than 20 references. Patents listing more than 20 references have an average of 28 references. Some of these references may be cited by the PTO — However, the vast majority of references in patents citing 20+ are cited by the applicant. . . . The rules will almost certainly have a disparate impact on various art units within the PTO because some art units typically receive more cited references than others. . . . There is also some correlation with the number of references cited and the expected examination delay within the PTO.
Among the art units in his data:
Machine elements and power, Art Unit 3680
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 24
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 14.8%
Average Number of Refs - 13.6

Power generation and distribution, Art Unit 2830
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 19.4
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 15.3%
Average Number of Refs - 14.8

Organic chemistry, Art Unit 1620
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 24.1
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 33.1%
Average Number of Refs - 24.1

Computer networks, Art Unit 2140
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 40
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 41.9%
Average Number of Refs - 27.8

Organic compounds, Art Unit 1610
Expected Delay to OA (Months)- 29.9
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 41.0%
Average Number of Refs - 30.4

Medical instruments, diagnostic, Art Unit 3730
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 28.5
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 40.9%
Average Number of Refs - 35.7

Molecular biology, bioinformatics, Art Unit 1630
Expected Delay to OA (Months) - 25.9
Percent of Patents with >20 Refs - 54.8%
Average Number of Refs - 44.2
"Heretofore, patent applicants have found it more efficient to simply dump untold numbers of prior art references into the PTO hopper without detailed analysis for fear of inadvertently omitting the most pertinent reference," adds Professor Wegner. "With the extreme cost in attorney time to meet the new IDS Rules, the default may switch to making a meticulous pre-citation review to focus upon only the truly most relevant prior art. But, a substantial effort will be required for this exercise, too, to fully meet the duty of disclosure."
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