Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents?: Evidence from Micro-level Application Data
We explore how examiner behavior is altered by the time allocated for reviewing patent applications. Insufficient examination time may hamper examiner search and rejection efforts, leaving examiners more inclined to grant invalid applications. To test this prediction, we use application-level data to trace the behavior of individual examiners over the course of a series of promotions that carry with them reductions in examination-time allocations. We find evidence demonstrating that such promotions are associated with reductions in examination scrutiny and increases in granting tendencies, as well as evidence that those additional patents being issued on the margin are of below-average quality.