Economic research

USPTO economists study all aspects of intellectual property (IP) to better understand the determinants of innovation and to support evidence-based policy making. The Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) leads these efforts through engagement with scholars, collaboration on research projects, and conference events. OCE also releases datasets on USPTO patents and trademarks to advance economic research on IP. 

Featured IP infographic

Recent USPTO examiner guidance decreased uncertainty in patent examination

A new USPTO study finds that the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International significantly increased the percentage of Section 101 rejections in first office actions received by patent applicants and, importantly, increased the degree of uncertainty facing applicants in the examination process. In two subsequent examiner guidance documents, the USPTO largely reversed these effects. Read more about the image below.

Line graph showing Section 101 examination uncertainty in Alice-affected and other technologies. Time is on the x-axis (ranging from the half year period Aug–Jan 2017 to the period Aug–Jan 2020), and Section 101 examination uncertainty is on the y-axis (ranging from .02 to .12). The figure has a vertical line at Aug–Jan 2018, marking the half-year directly before the Berkheimer memorandum, and a vertical line at Aug–Jan 2019, marking the half-year containing only a partial month of the 2019 PEG.


For previous infographics, visit the IP infographics page.