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Examiner Incentives

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Sunday, May 31, 2009 by Jim Ruttler

Examiners at the USPTO receive compensation based upon a credit system. The more credits they earn, the higher their compensation. Credits are most commonly earned by picking up a new case for examination, causing a request for continued examination (RCE) to be filed, or disposing of the case either through issuance or abandonment. Although, examiner behavior is constrained by internal quality review as well as the appeal process, it is not uncommon for examiners to issue a few rejections before allowing cases as this increases earned credits through the filing of RCEs. In order to minimize the delay and expense that follows from this practice, it is important to draft high quality claims, strong and concise arguments for allowance, and supplement responses to office actions with follow up calls to the examiner. Additionally, one should not dismiss the potential for filing an appeal in the event an examiner persists with an unreasonable position.

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