Patent Office Studies


Patent Office Studies is dedicated to publishing data and documents related to the patent profession and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In so doing, it intends to serve as an online repository for information that has not previously been made public or that otherwise is difficult to obtain. This information includes documents gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests and from private collectors, as well as raw data and data summaries.

If you are interested in publishing data or documents related to your own scholarly work, please contact me.



Published Works

Christi J. Guerrini, The Decline of the Patent Registration Exam, 91 Neb. L. Rev. 325 (2012).

Data and Documents

Abstract: This empirical article considers the issue of patent quality through a lens focused on the regulation of the patent bar. Poor-quality patents were a source of intense public concern in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it was partly in response to the perceived proliferation of poor-quality patents that Congress and the PTO established a regulatory system—unique in all of administrative law—that restricts who may draft, or “prosecute,” patents.

One aspect of that regulatory system is the written examination that is an essential part of the process of registering to prosecute patents. This article describes the evolution of the format, content, and administration of the patent registration exam, from its first administration in 1934 to the present day. That description is based on my review of seventy-nine registration exams that I gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests to the PTO and from private collectors.

The story this collection tells is that for the first few decades of its history, the exam was an increasingly rigorous and comprehensive assessment. But as the twentieth century came to a close, the PTO implemented a number of changes to the exam that have had the effect of undermining its validity, reliability, and fairness. I describe these failures in terms of modern psychometric standards that apply to professional licensure exams and discuss their ramifications for patent quality and the delivery of professional patent services.

Works in Progress

Christi J. Guerrini, Defining Patent Quality, 82 Fordham L. Rev. __ (forthcoming).

Data and Documents

Abstract: Although the U.S. patent community has long complained about the number of bad patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), these concerns have intensified in recent years. In response, the PTO has identified patent quality as a critical institutional issue requiring reforms, including tightened regulation of the patent bar. Most recently, Congress passed the most sweeping patent legislation in at least half a century—the America Invents Act—based in part on the promise that it will improve patent quality.

Absent from the debate about the so-called patent quality crisis, however, is much thoughtful consideration of what constitutes a patent’s “quality” in the first place. What features of a patent make it good in quality, what features make it bad in quality, and how are those features related? Surprisingly, scholars and policymakers have shown little interest in these questions. Yet their answers are critical to the patent agenda because they dictate how to measure patent quality and therefore provide the basis for evaluating the extent of the quality crisis and the success or failure of reforms.

This article, which I will use for my job talk, begins the process of developing a meaning and theory of patent quality. It does so by disassembling the concept using a methodology applied in the business management literature to understand the quality of manufactured products. The broad aim of this article is to bring structure and clarity to the patent quality conversation. Its specific aim is to propose a multi-dimensional formula for evaluating patent quality that can be used to develop a strategic plan for improvement.

Copyright © Christi J. Guerrini, All Rights Reserved. Last modified on October 12, 2013