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The Impact of Examiner Experience on Allowance Rate

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If I want a quick (albeit imperfect) overview of how “easy” or “difficult” an examiner is, I generally look at 3 examiner metrics:

  • Total Actions Mailed (as a proxy for experience),
  • Allowance Rate1
  • Actions per Allowance

The question I investigated today is whether the second two metrics in that list are correlated with the first. In other words, does allowances rate or actions per allowance tend to go up or down with experience.

Allowance Rate and Actions per Allowance vs. Total Actions Mailed (past 3 yrs)

In the scatter plots above, each point corresponds to a particular examiner in a particular art unit (examiners who work in multiple art units will have multiple points). Hovering on a point will bring up the examiner & art unit corresponding to that point. Clicking a point in one chart will highlight the corresponding point in the other chart (and bring up a link to the Examiner’s full statistics on the BigPatentData Examiner Statistics Tool). Note: for examiners with NO allowances, I set their actions per allowance to -1 (since “NULL” was not playing nice)

As you can see from the black trendlines, there is basically no correlation between number of actions mailed in the past 3 years and allowance rate. There is a weak positive correlation (coefficient = 0.19) between total actions and number of actions per allowance. This is a good thing, whether or not your application is allowed and how many actions it will take to get that allowance should not depend on whether you examiner is a noob or a seasoned pro.

1Calculated as allowances (not granted patents) divided by allowances + abandonments (not counting abandonments for RCE))