In the world of patent prosecution, creating a reliable budget and timelines for allowance is crucial. However, it is also almost impossible without the proper data analysis. Unfortunately, there are many unknowns which are not clear until after a patent application is filed, like the art unit to which the patent application will be assigned.

Enter LexisNexis PathWays™, a new data analysis and patent classification engine—the first product of its kind designed to provide patent prosecution teams with some art unit foresight. Using highly accurate predictive analytics, PathWays can provide patent attorneys with guidance on where their invention will likely be classified before the patent application is ever filed.

A user of LexisNexis PathWays can enter text ranging from a single word to an entire draft application into a text input field. This could be a common term from the patent application, the exact text from a series of claims or the entire document itself. PathWays then analyzes the text using a sophisticated algorithm to return the top five art units in which the invention will likely land.

Even more valuable data is available for users who want to gain a greater understanding of their situation. Each art unit listing is presented to users with the allowance rate for that unit, so patent prosecution teams can get a sense of which art unit may provide the easiest path toward obtaining a patent. The PathWays classification engine also offers details on the average time to first office action, the average time to allowance and average number of office actions.

One of the more valuable aspects of the LexisNexis PathWays service is the word cloud analysis, which returns a visual gathering of terms commonly used within an art unit. Perhaps you see that the art unit most likely to receive your patent application has a lower allowance rate than you would like. The fourth most likely art unit, however, has an allowance rate of over 85 percent. With a few clicks, a user can get a good idea of some vocabulary changes they can make that might better position a patent application for a favorable art unit.

LexisNexis PathWays is a stand-alone product available through subscription, but current subscribers to LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® receive the additional benefit of linking to that service, which can uncover further valuable information regarding examiners in the unit, prosecuting law firms and more. Without the PatentAdvisor subscription, users can still link to official resources published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and others, which link directly to published patent applications and issued patents. Users can also find more granular information about art units through links to official definitions for classifications in the U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) system or the more internationally friendly Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system.

Navigating the maze of the patent prosecution process can be a tense path for even the most seasoned patent veteran. LexisNexis PathWays now provides the first data-driven solution to make rational prosecution filing decisions.

Knowing what to expect from certain art units also aids in the planning of more effective budgets. Despite anyone’s best guess, it is tough to ascertain how many office actions may be filed during prosecution, each one of them adding costs to the overall process of obtaining a patent. Informing those parties filing for patent applications about the average number of office actions by art unit gives them a better idea of how much money to keep in the coffers. Reducing uncertainty in the patent application filing process leads naturally to more successful patent prosecution strategies.

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