The Myth that the Patent Examiner is Awful

There is a huge myth that patent examiners are a lazy group of unionized government bureaucrats who are out to get you.

The truth is that patent examiners – more likely than not – know more about a specific technology than anyone on earth.

They spend their days searching, reading, and understanding a very narrow sliver of technology – and nobody knows it better than they do.  Certainly, nobody will know the prior art better.

Lazy patent attorneys often tell their clients that the examiner is ignorant and does not understand the invention – when in fact it is usually the patent attorney who does not understand the invention.

The examiner can be a huge resource for a competent patent attorney.

First: the patent attorney actually needs to understand the invention (this is not trivial.)

Second: the patent attorney needs to write a patent application that does not “hide the ball” behind complex, terse, and impossible-to-understand legalese.  Some inventors mistakenly think that this is a good thing – let me assure you it is not.

Third: you need to ask for reasonable claims.  The old patent attorney trick of telling the inventor “we are going to get broad claims” is purely a marketing ploy to keep prosecution open as long as possible (and keep the cash flowing to the attorney.)

Fourth: treat the examiner like the expert that they are.  Appeal to their knowledge and ask for help.  Most of them – virtually all (although there are some bad apples) – will help when they can.

1 Comment

  1. G.S. on June 6, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Well the possibility that an examiner could be corrupt or bribed or otherwise instructed to deny a ‘broad’ patent at all costs, has never been tried in court, or investigated by the FBI or Congress, so how could we know? You mean 11,000 examiners are ‘saints’ and could never be told to do things that are unethical of illegal? They could never be bribed? They could NEVER be spies??? Sounds pretty ludicrous to me! If it was 100, maybe, but not 11,000! What fairyland world do you live in??? I live in a world were up to 25% can’t be trusted at all – including lawyers! I think you must be delusional! There MUST be at least some CROOKS at the USPTO. That would just be statistically necessary! Examiners are not from another planet! So what YOU are ‘peddling’ here is the MYTH! There are crooks in every organization. There are people who do unethical things in every organization. There are people who care about money more than fairness or even the law. WAKE UP. We may try to prove that next!

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