Thursday, November 15, 2018

Should you interview your patent examiner?

We've added new statistics to Patent Bots to help you make better decisions regarding examiner interviews.  For most examiners, their grant rate increases for cases that have interviews over those that don't.  For some examiners, however, their grant rate actually goes down.

Here is an example:



You can see this examiner's grant rate for cases without any interviews, the grant rate for cases with at least one interview, and the benefit from doing an interview (along with the same stats for the art unit and the USPTO).

For this examiner, you are 8% less likely to get a patent if you conduct an interview!  By contrast, the USPTO average is that your chances increase by 15%.

This examiner also seems to avoid doing interviews.  Of the 157 cases before him, only 12 of them have had an interview.  If you have this examiner, you are better off not requesting an interview.

Here is a summary of some other improvements over the previous month:

  • For reference label processing, we process figures in PDF format that include text ( we don't OCR yet)
  • Improvements in our antecedent basis analysis.
  • Better extraction of ref labels so that we don't count things like IP addresses as reference labels.
  • Better handling of multiple dependent claims.


Visualizing Outcome Inconsistency at the USPTO

This article originally appeared on IP Watchdog.

In an ideal world, your chance of getting a patent allowed is based on the merits of your patent application and independent of the largely random assignment of the patent examiner.  As any patent attorney knows, however, this is not the case.  Some examiners allow patents too easily and others seem predisposed against allowing any patents at all.

This ideal can be described as outcome consistency.  The outcome of a patent application should be largely the same regardless of the assigned patent examiner.  Outcome consistency is needed to ensure fairness.  It is unfair for an applicant to be denied a patent for a worthy invention because it was assigned a hard examiner, and it is unfair to the public for a patent to be granted for an unworthy invention because it was assigned to an easy examiner.  The lack of outcome consistency among patent examiners is a known issue that the USPTO is working on improving, and this article presents visualizations to help diagnose areas for improvement.

The patent application grant rate across the USPTO is 66% (computed as described here).  One would expect that a distribution of examiner grant rates would follow a bell-like curve with (i) the average examiner having a grant rate of 66% and (ii) a reasonably small standard deviation such that most examiners are close to the average.

Here is the actual distribution of examiner grant rates across the USPTO (this is a weighted histogram according to the number of cases handled by an examiner with SPEs excluded):

USPTO:


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Improved Reference Label Checking

Reference Label Results
We've launched a number of improvements to our proofreading of reference labels so that our Patent Bots can catch even more types of errors in your patent applications.

We can now process your figures to make sure that your reference labels are consistent between your spec and your drawings. We can process figures in PowerPoint (pptx), Visio (vsdx), and PDF formats.

There are three types of reference label errors that we can find:
  1. A reference label that is in your spec but is not in the drawings (ref label 103 in the image).
  2. A reference label that is in your drawings but is not in your spec (ref label 320 in the image).
  3. A reference label that is used for different purposes in the spec.  In this example, ref label 140 has been used for both "local doctor" and "remote site" in the spec, and this is a mistake that needs to be fixed.
Figure Number Results
In addition to checking your reference labels, we also check your figure numbers. Each figure number should appear in three locations: (1) in the Brief Description of the Figures near the beginning of your patent application, (2) in the main text of your specification, and (3) in your drawings.

In this example, there are 6 figures. Fig. 4 appears in the spec but not in the drawings, and Figs. 4A-B appear in the drawings but not in the spec! If you filed your application with this error, you'd likely get a notice to file corrected application papers. By proofreading with Patent Bots, you can fix this error, avoid having to file an unnecessary amendment, and save the embarrassment of telling your client about a silly mistake.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Features (Track Changes Conversion, Claim Summary, OA Shells)

We've been working hard to expand on our core features of automated patent proofreading and patent examiner statistics, and we are excited to announce three new features:

(1) Office action response templates.  When starting an office action response, you need to perform the tedious task of resetting the claim markup (removing deleted text and underlines) and updating your claim status indicators ("Currently Amended" -> "Previously Presented"). We now do this for you!  We'll give you a Word doc with the updated claims and you just need to copy and paste them into your office action document.  Soon, we'll allow you to upload your own templates, and we'll add the claims directly to your template.

(2) Converting track changes to claim markup.  You can edit the claims in your office action response with MS Word track changes turned on, and we'll convert the redlines to underlines and overstrikes for you.

(3) Claim amendment summary.  Office action responses often start like this:

        Claims 1-21 are pending. Claims 1-4, 7-9, 14-15, and 20 are amended.
        Claim 21 is new.

We now generate this text for you by processing your claims.  We also provide a button to copy the text without formatting so you can easily paste it into your Word doc.

Please let us know what other features you would like to see, and we'll do our best to get them implemented.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ClaimMaster Comparison

Attorneys who switched to Patent Bots from ClaimMaster couldn't be happier.

  • Patent Bots is 33x faster.  Get results in 2 seconds instead of over a minute.
  • Paten Bots catches more errors.  We use state-of-the-art natural language processing whereas ClaimMaster is a Word plugin.
  • Patent Bots has an intuitive user interface that makes you more efficient (see below for an example).
  • Patent Bots gives you spec. support for each word of your claim. ClaimMaster only provides support for selected phrases.
  • Patent Bots is maintenance free and works on Mac.  ClaimMaster requires management of software licenses and can break with Windows and MS Word upgrades.

Here is an example that shows how Patent Bots is much easier to use.

Patent Bots results for antecedent basis (AB) show you AB results for all phrases and helps you diagnose warnings and errors.  Below, the words in "the SSD cache" are bolded to help diagnose the warning:


By comparison, here are ClaimMaster's results:


ClaimMaster only shows you a list of errors and warnings.  ClaimMaster also missed important warnings and errors in claim 1.  ClaimMaster missed all the yellow warnings (partial AB) and the three red underlines (the red underlines should start with "the").

Would you like to learn more?  Contact me to set up a demo.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Antecedent Basis Upgrade

Our goal at Patent Bots is to have the best patent proofreading software, and we are constantly improving our machine learning techniques.

We just deployed a big upgrade to our antecedent basis analysis to even further reduce errors in our language processing.  Minimizing errors makes us better at finding actual antecedent basis errors and reducing false alarms.

In many instances, like this claim, we'll have no language processing errors at all:


Where we do have language processing errors it is often caused by grammar errors in your claims.  Appropriate use of commas and hyphens can fix your grammar and also improve our error checking.

If you are not using Patent Bots yet, login to start your 7-day trial.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Predicting Future Patent Outcomes

This article originally appeared on IP Watchdog.

For patent examiners, past performance is indicative of future results.  Because of this, many patent practitioners use services that provide statistics about patent examiners to improve their prosecution strategy.  The most commonly used statistic is a grant rate or allowance rate that provides insight into the difficulty of an examiner.  This statistic looks backward to tell you what percentage of applications that have already been disposed, were granted (granted/(granted + abandoned)).  I’ll call this the backward grant rate.

In this article, I compute a “three-year grant rate” that shows the probability of obtaining a granted patent within three years of the first office action.  This three-year grant rate tells you how difficult an examiner is and when you can expect to be granted a patent.  For example, for examiner DY (more details on this examiner below), the three-year grant rate tells you that you have an 18% chance of getting a patent within three years of the first office action.  I will compare the three-year grant rate to the conventional backward grant rate and demonstrate how it is a more accurate measure of examiner difficulty.

Here is an example of a grant rate timeline across the entire USPTO: