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Is Means Plus Function the Kiss of Death?

A while back, PatentlyO posted the numbers on means-plus-function claiming, and with recent talk of proposed changes to means plus function law, I decided to update (and supplement) the numbers.

Applications Filed with “means” or “means for” in the claims

Percentage of “means for” applications by art unit (2017 filings)

ArtUnitmeans foruspto% of Apps filed in 2017
24701161435227%
24301222518524%
24601230570922%
2630929453520%
2410787384820%
26401510763220%
2180614329719%
2110793502416%
2130559359716%
36401329913915%
3750791544015%
36501262927014%
36301055786713%
2480629499613%
26601061864912%
1770788655512%
36601081899712%
3720949804112%
2680644545912%
3710631535812%
3730943813412%
2860572503211%
3760974866211%
3790954853211%
2880867792011%
3610724666111%
3780643614010%
285013551315510%
3670977982310%
28409821012710%
2610322338510%
179057460949%
174062366159%
28301492165529%
368031735339%
265057664599%
245030134749%
282062373608%
377057868298%
362037945028%
249034240978%
269034843438%
4130344318%
219028137587%
3740737100967%
242023232087%
267018126397%
415091357%
171034352107%
2870833129776%
369011417836%
262024344985%
217013325445%
244020140145%
212017938575%
215011525495%
4180163614%
21406214184%
216014634434%
163021458424%
173020969753%
289021274313%
16703011023%
3990239053%
164016566282%
175041982%
172011863662%
16108063101%
281010586221%
16506957851%
17806962011%
16602528391%
162097110441%
17605589251%

Allowance rates for applications with “means” or “means for” in the claims

Responses per allowance

Months to allowance

To me, the most interesting thing here is the dropping allowance rates for “means” and “means for” applications relative to the USPTO average. I see (at least) two possible explanations:

  1. Examiners are more critically analyzing whether or not the requisite corresponding structure is present.
  2. Having a claim is interpreted under 112(f) is considered the kiss of death by applicants and thus they are abandoning rather than fighting.