Patent Quality Conferences

Duke Law–Santa Clara Law Patent Quality Conferences


The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law and the Santa Clara High Tech Law Institute jointly-hosted a pair of conferences on patent quality. The first conference was held on September 9, 2016, at the Locatelli Center on the campus of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. The second conference was held on December 13, 2016, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Alexandria, Virginia. These conferences convened academics and stakeholders to reflect as a community.

Over the previous seven years, the PTO made patent quality a major priority, launching initiatives and taking executive action to reduce application pendency, enhance prior art search capabilities, bolster examiner training, increase clarity of the record, enhance transparency, and calibrate examiner incentives, among other steps. As the PTO continued to implement a number of ongoing programs and roll out new ones, these conferences convened policy-makers, academics, and stakeholders to reflect as a community on what has gone well, what has been learned, and what potential next steps, policies and procedures the PTO might consider for ensuring that U.S. patents are of the highest quality.

The following thematic areas were covered at the conferences:

  • Track One and Differentiating Between Patents
  • Clarity of Claims and the Patent Record
  • Examiner Search (including Global Dossier)
  • Using Post-Grant Outcomes to Improve Ex Ante Quality
  • Examiner Work Design (including Time Allocation and Management)
  • Maintenance and Other Patent Fees
  • Compact / “Once and Done” Prosecution
  • Applicant Quality Levers

For information on the conferences, click the links below.

Santa Clara conference

Alexandria conference

Professor Art Rai, Faculty Co-Director of The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law, and Professor Colleen Chien, Santa Clara Law & SCU's High Tech Law Institute, have co-authored a wrap-up piece on patent quality at PatentlyO:

Law360 presented a series of opinion pieces related to the two conference.

  Making 'Compact Prosecution' Truly Compact
   Laura Sheriden, Google [Sept. 28]

  Q&A With GAO Directors: Improving Patent Quality
   Frank Rusco & John Neumann, GAO [Oct. 7]

  Reconsidering Patent Examiner's Time Allocations
   Michael D. Frakes, Duke Law & Melissa F. Wasserman, Texas Law [Oct. 13]

  Getting Practical about Patent Quality
   David J. Kappos, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP [Oct. 21]

  Overclaiming Is Criminal
   Oskar Liivak, Cornell Law [Oct. 28]

  Comparing Patent Quality at the USPTO and EPO
   Colleen Chien, Santa Clara Law & Jay Kesan, University of Illinois College of Law [Nov. 29]

  The Need for Speed: Process and Product Quality in Track 1
   Arti Rai and Elliot Chen, Duke University School of Law [Dec. 6]

  Patent Quality Is Here to Stay
   Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property
   and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
[Dec. 19]

The conferences are generously supported by: