The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently released its Fiscal Year 2012 Performance and Accountability Report, chronicling a year filled with legislative and procedural changes. After an initial review of the figures, PatentlyO's Dennis Crouch categorized the findings as encouraging news for patent quality.
Much like his predecessors, USPTO director David Kappos has placed a premium on avoiding the issuance of low-quality patents. But the key distinction, according to Crouch, is that Kappos has made a dedicated effort to address the other side of the equation and clear the path for worthy inventions. Under his administration, there has been a clear and consistent rise in allowance rates.
Crouch's "working hypothesis" had been that this trend was primarily a product of improved administrative efficiency, and that low-quality patents may still be granted right alongside more meritorious applications.
However, the columnist was forced to reexamine his view after identifying a simultaneous drop in abandonment rates as allowances climbed higher. In theory, that should be a clear indicator that the applications which received allowance were of greater average quality and ultimately worth pursuing.