Patent Examiner Conflict?

Does it feel icky to have one examiner handling 88 applications from 10 different companies within headquarters located within a 50 mile radius of one another?

Minnesota law firms and patent departments are currently prosecuting 24,016 pending but not yet granted or abandoned U.S. patent applications.  Following is a listing of the patent examiners that are assigned most frequently in that set of applications.  The top ranked examiner, Elizabeth Houston, is handling 166 of the Minnesota applications, and so on and so forth.


Let’s take a closer look Examiner Houston’s docket.  Consider the following breakdown of 83 of the 166 pending applications on her docket:


What do all of these ten companies with pending applications assigned to Examiner Houston have in common?  Every one of these ten companies has a headquarters in Minnesota.

So, what do you think?  Should any consideration be given to a risk of bias in these circumstances?



2 thoughts on “Patent Examiner Conflict?

  1. You raise an interesting question: Do home town ties (good or bad) impact patents? Further, what is the likelihood that an Examiner knows or is related to someone working for one of these large organizations. Not unlikely. Obviously, this scenario does not result in guaranteed bias, but it does make one wonder, why not assign patent cases from other areas of the country that the Examinors home?

  2. Thanks! As far as we know, this examiner is not also from the Minneapolis area. We have no reason to believe that this is the case. Nonetheless, we find it interesting that one single examiner is examining applications from ten companies all with headquarters located in the same metropolitan area. Some of the companies are large and others are small. And it is probably reasonable to assume that all of these 88 applications pertain to the exact same areas of innovation.

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