Last month, we published an article titled “The Most Difficult Examiners at the USPTO,” wherein we identified the ten examiners at the USPTO with the lowest allowance rates. While allowance rate is a fairly good indication of the level of difficultly of getting an allowance from an examiner, practitioners must also consider the number of office actions an examiner issues. Since most of the effort of patent prosecution involves responding to office actions, more office actions from an examiner means more work for the prosecuting attorney and more costs for the client.
Below, we ranked the top 10 examiners at the USPTO who issue the most office actions. The date range for the data is 2006 to the present, and includes only examiners who had at least 100 disposed applications during that time period in utility art units. The examiners are ranked by the average number of office actions they issue from the date of filing to the date of disposition. Hover over the graph for details.
As shown above, there is really no rhyme or reason to the technologies these examiners work with. TC 2100 is represented the most, with three entries on the list, but the rest are scattered among five different tech centers. In our previous articles, we attributed the low allowance rates at the examiner level to the Alice decision, and low examiner rates at the art unit level to the Myriad/Mayo decisions, but there is no such explanation here. While two of these examiners work in the e-commerce art units (the same art unit, no less), they by no means make up a majority of the list.
Like we continually point out in our writings, every examiner has his or her own unique biases and opinions about the law, and every examiner behaves differently in patent prosecution. Rather than a high number of office actions being attributable to a landmark patent law case, it seems that this metric depends, at least somewhat, upon the personality of the particular examiner. Since every office action accrues costs for a client, knowing how many office actions to expect can significantly aid a practitioner in managing his or her clients’ expectations regarding the potential costs of their application.
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