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GAO Reports – Patent Office Audits

  • Intellectual Property: Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity, GAO-16-490: Published: Jun 30, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2016: “GAO found that district court filings of new patent infringement lawsuits increased from about 2,000 in 2007 to more than 5,000 in 2015, while the number of defendants named in these lawsuits increased from 5,000 to 8,000 over the same period. In 2007, about 20 percent of all defendants named in new patent infringement lawsuits were sued in the Eastern District of Texas, and by 2015 this had risen to almost 50 percent. According to stakeholders, patent infringement suits are increasingly being tried in the predominantly rural Eastern District of Texas, likely due to recent practices in that district that are favorable to the patent owners who bring these infringement suits. GAO also found that most patent suits involve software-related patents and computer and communications technologies. Several stakeholders told GAO that it is easy to unintentionally infringe on patents associated with these technologies because the patents can be unclear and overly broad, which several stakeholders believe is a characteristic of low patent quality.”
  • Intellectual Property: Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners’ Work, GAO-16-479: Published: Jun 30, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2016: “Experts and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiners described a variety of challenges in identifying information relevant to a claimed invention—or “prior art”—that can affect examiners’ ability to complete a thorough prior art search in the time allotted and their confidence in their search efforts. These challenges include, among others, the quantity and availability of prior art, the clarity of patent applications, and USPTO’s policies and search tools.”
  • Intellectual Property: Survey of U.S. Patent Examiners (GAO-16-478SP, June 2016), an E-supplement to GAO-16-479 and GAO-16-490, GAO-16-478SP: Published: Jun 30, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2016.

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