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Mar 13, 2019Legal
Mr. Examiner's Wild Ride

Below is an animated visualization of the subject matter eligibility 101 roller coaster that patent prosecutors and examiners have been on over the past 5 years. The visualization (interactive version available here, registration required) looks at applications assigned to three different examiners in art unit 3620 (Winner of the Nancy Reagan Award at the 2018 BigPatties). The video follows the life and times of Examiners Ade, Coleman, and Swartz over the past decade plus.

The video opens with a wide angle shot showing the stats and timeline for all of their applications. We can see that Examiner Ade has a lifetime allowance rate around 60% across 655 applications, Swartz around 20% for 388 applications, and Coleman around 5% for 387 applications.  But as I mentioned in Lies, Damned Lies, and Examiner Statistics, let's not be deceived by lifetime allowance rates. (Although, in this case, go ahead and assume you DO NOT want your application assigned to Examiner Coleman). Next in the video, I select a 1 year window of dispositions and begin sliding the window to the right. Below are some quick thought I had while watching the video.

Examiner Ade

As the selected window of dispositions slides, we can see that Examiner Ade initially started in art unit 3620 (indicated by the colors on the art unit heat map) where he appears to get his feet wet by clearing out some old abandonments that he probably inherited from another examiner. Then, in 2008 he transitions over to art unit 2680, and his allowance rate grows pretty steadily over time and generally stabilizes in the ballpark of 80% -- until 2014 when it plummets ... and then quickly recovers. . In 2017 he switches back to 3620 but his allowance rate stays up near 80%.

Examiner Swartz

Examiner Swartz starts in 2009. Like Ade, he initially clears out some old abandonments and then his alowance rate starts climbing pretty steadily and reaches a peak around 50% just before . . . you guessed it, Alice. His allowance rate plummets to 0 and then recovers back up to around 35% (never quite reaching his pre-Alice peak).

Examiner Coleman

And then there is Examiner Coleman. What can I say? The man is not impressed by many applications. But you know what? At least he is consistent! Plus, he hasn't been taken to appeal very often (and when he has been, he usually prevails!).

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