Quality patents are assets to everyone. The patent system is at its peak when high-quality patents and patent applications make up the USPTO’s archives. Inventors are incentivized to share their innovations with the world knowing they will be protected in doing so, and investors are more likely to back an idea that is protected by a strong, defensible patent. Quality patents result in a healthy system where patent rights are certain and disputes are easily settled. The only question is “what are the qualities that make up a quality patent?”
“. . . one aspect of quality is meeting the legal standards of utility, novelty, non-obviousness, written description, enablement and definiteness.”
1. Effectively Meets Legal Standards
Recently, the Director of the USPTO defined quality patents as “those that are issued in compliance with all the requirements of Title 35 of the United States Code as well as relevant case law at the time of issuance.” In other words, one aspect of quality is meeting the legal standards of utility, novelty, non-obviousness, written description, enablement and definiteness. Inventors and patent applicants who file patent documents that meet legal standards are less likely to need to spend time and money on:
- Office Actions and Patent Examiner Correspondence. Responding to an office action is estimated to cost an average of $3,000 each time. Patent applications that meet legal standards receive fewer rejections and cost less to prosecute.
- Pre-Issuance Submissions. The America Invents Act (AIA) introduced many new changes impacting patent practice; including giving third parties the ability to submit prior art for consideration by patent examiners before a patent application receives its first substantive office action. Trends show that companies are more heavily monitoring patent filings and are more readily filing pre-issuance submissions to help weed out patent applications that fall short of legal standards.
- Post-Grant Reviews. Interested third parties can use post-grant reviews to cancel one or more claims of a patent on any ground relating to invalidity. Patents that meet legal standards are both less likely to be challenged and are more likely to survive post-grant reviews.
2. Effectively Captures and Articulates the Invention
Quality patents are clearly written and readily understood. Well-articulated patents create clear boundaries that help others determine what actions they can take to avoid committing infringement, and they help businesses define a reasonable course for product development. Ambiguity, on the other hand, is more likely to lead to multiple interpretations of patent language, and may even lead to legal disputes. To foster innovation and reduce litigation, patent practitioners should focus on drafting patents that clearly articulate the underlying invention and the scope of its protection.
3. Contributes to Relative Market Value
An invention’s value is partly determined by how much revenue it generates compared to how much expense goes into it. Keeping down patent prosecution expenses by drafting a clearly written patent that meets legal standards is one way to increase an invention’s relative market value. Additionally, having a strong patent in place to protect an invention is attractive to investors, while an aggregation of low-quality patents granted by the USPTO reduces investors’ faith in the patent system and lessens the pool of investment for everyone.
Producing Quality Patents with tools from LexisNexis IP®
There are many things patent practitioners can do to improve the quality of their patents, but the quickest and most effective way to improve patent quality is through the use of LexisNexis PatentOptimizer®. Improve your patent drafting by easily identifying a lack of sufficient written descriptions, identifying vague and indefinite claim language, identifying claim terms that lack proper antecedent basis, identifying functional claim language without the recitation of corresponding structure in the specification, and detecting and correcting inconsistent part names and numbers. PatentOptimizer™ helps patent practitioners address issues that produce low-quality patent applications and helps increase the quality of the patent system for everyone.