05.30.18

USPTO Has a ‘Revolving Doors’ Problem

Posted in America, Patents at 1:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet more reasons for independent assessment by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) or BoA in Europe

USPTO Revolving Doors

Summary: A newly-published paper (above, paywall) claims to have gathered enough evidence to assert that the USPTO too has been “creating a “revolving door” between government and the private sector.” (like in, e.g., regulatory agencies, referees, judges, politicians and so on)

COVERAGE AT TECHRIGHTS has been so focused on the EPO in recent years that USPTO matters typically get left aside (at least until weekends). But as "CIO Watchdog" occasionally reminds us, nepotism such as the hiring of relatives happens at the USPTO, not only at the EPO. Yesterday it wrote the following:

“We have been told that one SES has accepted a detail. Rhonda Foltz is on a 240 day detail. One can only assume and hope this is first step in leaving the agency. Foltz was hired by Owens and was an alleged friend of his wife. Is Isom next or maybe Newberger?”

The nepotism allegedly damages the morale of USPTO examiners, but they too are alleged to be part of the problem.

“The nepotism allegedly damages the morale of USPTO examiners, but they too are alleged to be part of the problem.”“Patent examiners grant significantly more patents to firms likely to hire them after they leave the USPTO,” Peter G. Klein said (patent maximalists highlight this with similar remarks) and “another reason to bin the entire patent system,” Dr. Glyn Moody wrote about it. The corresponding paper from Haris Tabakovic and Thomas G. Wollmann is new. Abstract: “Many regulatory agency employees are hired by the firms they regulate, creating a “revolving door” between government and the private sector. We study these transitions using detailed data from the US Patent and Trademark Office. We find that patent examiners grant significantly more patents to the firms that later hire them and that much of this leniency extends to prospective employers. These effects are strongest in years when firms are actively hiring, and these relationships hold for the intensive margin of intellectual property protection. Ultimately, this leads the agency to issue lower quality patents, which we measure in citations. Together with other supporting evidence, we argue these results are suggestive of regulatory capture.”

There’s a paywall, so we’re unable to say anything beyond that.

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