Friday, May 21, 2021

Errors in Issued Patents as a Measure of Patent Quality

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”— Peter Drucker

Companies spend considerable sums of money to develop patent portfolios that protect their valuable innovations. Given the large stakes, it behooves companies to obtain high quality patents. I’ll start this article with an example of a patent mistake that resulted in a bad outcome for the patent owner.

iRobot lost a patent infringement claim against a competitor that perhaps could have been avoided. The issue was that important concepts of the claims were not described in the patent, and the meaning of the claims was not clear. The independent claims included the phrase “instructions configured to cause a processor” but the only use of “instructions” in the patent related to operational instructions for a user.

Because the patent did not sufficiently describe the “instructions” in the claims, iRobot did not obtain its desired claim construction, and the Federal Circuit found no infringement. It seems plausible that better claim drafting might have avoided these errors and achieved a better outcome for iRobot.

To avoid outcomes like the one above, a company could measure the quality of patents in its patent portfolio and take actions to improve quality.

Some measures of patent quality may relate to the overall patent portfolio. For example, the technology areas in which a company has patent protection. Other measures of patent quality relate to individual patents to increase chances of success in patent disputes, such as the one above. While both are important, I will focus on patent quality metrics for individual patents in this article.

While there are many aspects of patent quality for individual patents, they can generally be categorized into patent scope and satisfying legal requirements.

Patent Scope

A patent has value when it helps a company meet its business objectives. A patent that broadly covers important features of a product may prevent others from implementing that feature. Such patents may provide the owner with a competitive advantage that allows it to sell more products or charge higher prices for those products.

While the scope of a patent is clearly important, it is not easily measured for individual patents. Indicators such as the number of words in a claim or backwards citations are coarse measures that provide unreliable information.

In my view, there are no useful, objective measures relating to the scope of a patent. While artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving rapidly, the best way to determine the value of a patent’s scope is to ask a patent attorney to review it, and different patent attorneys may come to different conclusions.

Legal Requirements

Statutes and regulations set forth numerous legal requirements for patents. In some situations, violating these legal requirements may cause the patent to be invalid, unenforceable, or less valuable (e.g., narrower scope). Further, violations of legal requirements provide opportunities for defendants in court proceedings and can greatly increase legal costs.

Some legal criteria are not amenable to being measured. For example, at least with current technology, it is not possible to compute a reliable measure of whether a patent specification provides written description support for and enablement of the claims.

Some legal criteria, however, are objective and easy to measure, such as whether the claims are properly numbered. Patent Bots recently published Patent Quality Scores using several measurable legal criteria to determine a quality measure for individual patents, law firms, and patent owners.

The Patent Quality Scores are based on the following:

  • Numbering errors (non-sequential or repeated claim numbers)
  • Dependency errors (a method claim that depends from a system claim)
  • Antecedent basis errors (no instance of “a widget” prior to “the widget”)
  • Word support errors (claim words that do not appear in the detailed description)

I am using the term “legal errors” somewhat loosely here. The presence of any of the above does not necessarily render a claim invalid, but it does make it more likely that a claim will be invalid or not infringed (as illustrated by the iRobot example).

To rank law firms and companies according to the Patent Quality Scores, we downloaded an entire year of 306,738 issued patents and proofread them with an automated patent proofreading tool. By counting the number of errors in each patent and cross referencing them against the associated law firm and company, the tool computed an average quality score and ranking for law firms and companies.

Although the Patent Quality Scores measure just some aspects of patent quality, there is no doubt that eliminating the legal errors tracked by tools such as this will improve patent quality. Further, law firms that implement processes to have higher Patent Quality Scores are likely doing well with other aspects of patent quality that are not tracked by the Patent Quality Scores.

These scores may not be an accurate reflection for law firms that file a large number of patent applications drafted by others (e.g., from non-U.S. law firms or companies) and are not able to control for quality. For these law firms, the Patent Quality Scores reflect the patents they file as a whole, but these law firms may do higher quality work for the subset of patents actually drafted by them.

Reduce Error: Measure

Measuring patent quality is the first step to improving quality. A combination of the right processes and legal technology can help law firms and companies improve patent quality. An automated patent proofreading tool should be used at all stages of preparation and prosecution (before filing, with each office action response, at allowance, and after issuance). Patent attorneys should carefully review proofreading reports to ensure that identified errors are fixed. Review by a second patent attorney will also improve all aspects of patent quality.

A very small percentage of patents are ever litigated or part of a legal dispute. In those situations, however, a legal error in a patent can cause the patent owner to lose important rights to their innovations. To maximize the value of their patent portfolio, patent owners can measure the legal errors in their issued patents and take action to reduce those errors.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Top 50 Law Firms for Patent Quality 2021

At Patent Bots, we used our advanced machine learning software to proofread an entire year of issued patents and then ranked 802 law firms by the smallest average number of errors in the issued patents.

Congratulations to these firms for doing amazing work!  

To improve your firm's patent quality scores, use Patent Bots automated proofreading to remove errors in your work. 

Try Proofreading

See our PatentVerse page to see how your firm does in comparison. Other than the top 50 firms, you can only see your own firm's ranking (we don't want to publicly identify firms doing lower quality work). Note that these rankings are based only on average errors in issued patents and don't address other important aspects of patent quality.

This is the final posting of our second annual release of patent quality rankings for law firms and companies. For purpose of computing quality scores, we used only numbering errors, antecedent basis errors, and word support errors (words that don't appear in the detailed description).

We rank the top 50 firms overall and also the top 10 in each USPTO tech center:

Top 50 Overall

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Hartman & Citrin LLC10499.6
2Holland & Hart LLP/Qualcomm8099.1
3Strategic Patents, P.C.6898.1
4Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP60397.7
5Lindauer Law, PLLC8696.4
6Harrity & Harrity, LLP57096.2
7Robinson Intellectual Property Law Office17896.1
8Guntin & Gust, PLC59095.9
9Konrad Raynes Davda & Victor LLP21195.8
10Shimokaji IP6095.3
11GTC Law Group PC & Affiliates9694.5
12Pramudji Law Group PLLC6393.8
13Pierce Atwood LLP14393.2
14Posz Law Group, PLC51393.2
15McGarry Bair PC31293.0
16The Small Patent Law Group LLC33892.4
17Gibb & Riley, LLC5792.3
18IP Spring5692.0
19Athorus, PLLC15891.6
20Rowand LLP6691.3
21Chip Law Group89191.0
22Darrow Mustafa PC16590.7
23McDermott Will & Emery LLP151590.6
24Farjami & Farjami LLP12290.4
25Holland & Hart LLP79090.4
26Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.5990.4
27MLO, a professional corp.6489.7
28Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman, LLC81289.5
29Mahamedi IP Law LLP7789.3
30Alliance IP, LLC13989.3
31Patent Capital Group29389.2
32Bejin Bieneman PLC36889.0
33Leveque IP Law, P.C.5889.0
34Keller Jolley Preece24088.7
35Keating & Bennett, LLP92088.6
36Campbell Stephenson LLP9088.4
38Newport IP, LLC21088.3
39IP Business Solutions, LLC8388.0
40Behmke Innovation Group LLC22987.4
41Yee & Associates, P.C.33587.3
42Parker Justiss, P.C.5987.1
43Walters & Wasylyna LLC7187.1
44Dascenzo Intellectual Property Law, P.C.6786.9
45Carrier Blackman & Associates, P.C.17886.9
46Studebaker & Brackett PC141786.8
47Compass IP Law PC21486.3
48WPAT, P.C., Intellectual Property Attorneys26786.3
49Edwards Neils LLC5985.3
50ScienBiziP, P.C.118385.0

Top 10 in Tech Center 1600

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Brown Rudnick LLP5299.1
2W&C IP10397.6
3Hamre, Schumann, Mueller & Larson, P.C.5097.5
4Perkins Coie LLP8994.4
5K&L Gates LLP12494
6Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP33993.6
7Quarles & Brady LLP13793.3
8Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P.25893
9Maschoff Brennan7189.6
10Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser, P.C.6689.2

Top 10 in Tech Center 1700

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1IPUSA, PLLC5697.9
2McDermott Will & Emery LLP21097.3
3Yee & Associates, P.C.6496.9
4Global IP Counselors, LLP6696.4
5Baker Botts L.L.P.11496.3
6ScienBiziP, P.C.9896.1
7Studebaker & Brackett PC13795.5
8Burr & Brown, PLLC11695.2
9Kinney & Lange, P.A.5394.2
10Amin, Turocy & Watson, LLP7093.6

Top 10 in Tech Center 2100

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Harrity & Harrity, LLP75100
2Muirhead and Saturnelli, LLC5297.8
3Holland & Hart LLP9197.8
4Konrad Raynes Davda & Victor LLP16397.3
5Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP6797
6Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman, LLC9796.1
7Nicholson De Vos Webster & Elliott LLP24395.9
8Trop, Pruner & Hu, P.C.9295.8
9Zilka-Kotab, P.C.13093.7
10Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C.21092.4

Top 10 in Tech Center 2400

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Harrity & Harrity, LLP17599.5
2Holland & Hart LLP/Qualcomm5398.7
3Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman, LLC21097.8
4Holland & Hart LLP31497
5Edell, Shapiro & Finnan, LLC14796.3
6Guntin & Gust, PLC27094.7
7IP Legal Services, LLC5894.7
8Patent Capital Group6394.5
9McDermott Will & Emery LLP8694.2
10Osha Bergman Watanabe & Burton LLP7393.8

Top 10 in Tech Center 2600

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Guntin & Gust, PLC168100
2Pierce Atwood LLP8799.8
3Harrity & Harrity, LLP6799.6
4Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP15399.5
5Kile Park Reed & Houtteman PLLC5698.1
6Holland & Hart LLP10096.8
7Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP7396.6
9Keller Jolley Preece7795.8
10McDermott Will & Emery LLP20695.5

Top 10 in Tech Center 2800

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Guntin & Gust, PLC6399.5
2Holland & Hart LLP18799.5
3The Marbury Law Group, PLLC16198.7
4Chip Law Group21898.2
5Duft & Bornsen, PC5298.2
6Vierra Magen Marcus LLP12697.6
7Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP8596.7
8Robinson Intellectual Property Law Office13596.6
9Thompson Hine LLP12396.5
10Pramudji Law Group PLLC5595.8

Top 10 in Tech Center 3600

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Harrity & Harrity, LLP8399.5
2Bejin Bieneman PLC24999.4
3Alleman Hall Creasman & Tuttle LLP8498.8
4ScienBiziP, P.C.5498.8
5Keating & Bennett, LLP7997.7
6Darrow Mustafa PC8197.7
7Mori & Ward, LLP8696.3
8Paratus Law Group, PLLC5195.6
9McGuireWoods LLP6994.7
10Athorus, PLLC6993.9

Top 10 in Tech Center 3700

RankLaw FirmNo. of Issued PatentsQuality Score
1Posz Law Group, PLC17699.4
2McCoy Russell LLP35699
3Mayer & Williams PC8098.5
4Quinn IP Law9798
5Keating & Bennett, LLP5597.5
6McDermott Will & Emery LLP9697.2
7McGarry Bair PC12997.2
8KED & Associates LLP15797
9Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.19496.1
10Dority & Manning, P.A.57296.1