Who's Patenting What? An Empirical Exploration of Patent Prosecution

81 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2000

See all articles by John R. Allison

John R. Allison

University of Texas - McCombs School of Business

Mark A. Lemley

Stanford Law School


We have studied a large, random sample of U.S. patents issued between 1996 and 1998. We collected a variety of information about these patents, including area of technology, national origin, the number of inventors, nature and size of the owning entity, the number and type of prior art references, and the time spent in prosecution. We seek to establish relationships between a number of variables in issued patents-such as number of inventors, numbers and types of references to the prior art, numbers and types of claims, and length of time between application and issuance-and a number of defined areas of technology. We identify the countries in which particular inventions originated--almost one-half of all issued U.S. patents cover inventions originating in other countries--and test for relationships between the above variables and countries of origin. We also evaluate relationships between countries of origin and areas of technology. The conclusions are somewhat surprising, and point to a patent system that is far from unitary in the way it treats different inventors and different inventions.

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K11, K40, L21, O31, O32, O34, O35

Suggested Citation

Allison, John R. and Lemley, Mark A., Who's Patenting What? An Empirical Exploration of Patent Prosecution. Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 53, p. 2099, 2000, UC Berkeley, Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 19, University of Texas Public Law & Legal Theory, Research Paper No. 010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=223312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.223312

John R. Allison

University of Texas - McCombs School of Business ( email )

CBA 5.202
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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