LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® and PatentAdvisor ETA™

Even if you don’t have a social media account that you check several times daily, there is no mistaking the prevalence of Facebook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn® and numerous other sites in our lives. Facebook which started as a site for college students continues to surprise us with the way it has adapted its site over the years. Nevertheless, its newest launch for a mobile dating app, was very surprising.

Facebook and its Online Dating Advantage

There is no shortage of options when it comes to online or mobile dating. A few of the more popular methods include using Match, Tinder, and Bumble, and no matter what your age, religion, or ethnicity, there is probably a platform that caters specifically to your demographic. So, with such a seemingly saturated market, why is Facebook making its entrance? It has more information on you than almost any other company.

Facebook is continually collecting and analyzing the information you provide to your profile, as well as the information others submit about you. Facebook plans to leverage the personal data it has to help people find, in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “meaningful relationships” and not just “hookups.” More specifically, Facebook has a tremendous understanding of your friendships and your connections, and it is the “social graph” of user connections Facebook plans on using to help you find love that resulted in the issuance of their U.S. Patent No. 9,609,072.

Facebook and Patent Prosecution

Facebook patent ‘072, simply titled SOCIAL DATING, describes a system and method for social dating, which recommends potential dating candidates from a pool of Facebook users based on a user’s social graph. Some argue that the patent should not have been granted in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 CLS Bank v. Alice ruling, a decision that makes software challenging to patent due to it being difficult to show a particular software is something “significantly more” than an abstract idea.

Regardless of whether or not the patent should have been granted, Facebook fought a long and hard patent prosecution battle and ultimately came out victorious. Here are some of Facebook’s patent application prosecution statistics from the PatentAdvisor™ patent analytics platform:

Filing Date: March 12, 2013
Grant Date: March 28, 2017

Assigned Art Unit: Art Unit 2155  75.7%
Art Unit Allowance Rate: 75.7%
Art Unit’s Average Number of Office Actions: 2

Examiner’s Allowance Rate: 59.8%
Examiner’s Average Number of Office Actions: 3.8
Examiner’s Average Time In Prosecution: 4 years 6 months 14 days

We have even greater insight into the journey of Facebook into patent prosecution by referencing the Facebook patent application’s ETA™. Each ETA is a proprietary metric that integrates patent data with surrounding circumstances to accurately determine how patent prosecution is likely to proceed with a particular patent examiner.

In the case of Facebook, their assigned patent examiner shows an ETA of 5.9, which indicates a well-experienced examiner (granting between 15-150 applications each year) and estimates the high end of mediocre when it comes to prosecution length. Moreover, applicant’s facing a 5.9 ETA should anticipate the need to dig into analytics to determine the best patent strategies, whether it be to take part in pilot programs, interviews, RCEs, or otherwise.

The experience of Facebook supports the information provided by their ETA. After facing two office actions, Facebook filed an RCE before receiving another office action and ultimately being granted their patent. This is a typical experience with their assigned patent examiner – 72.9 percent of patent applications examined by their patent examiner required at least one RCE before issuance. Additionally, PatentAdvisor tells us that after applicants interview with the patent examiner assigned to Facebook, the most likely significant event was allowance after the interview (compared to abandonment, an RCE, a Final OA, or a Non-Final OA). Undoubtedly recognizing this advantage, Facebook conducted a telephonic interview twice throughout patent prosecution to capitalize on a known patent prosecution advantage.

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