Joff Wild

In the latest issue of IAM, which published last week, our cover story focuses on the firm's that secure the highest quality US patents for their clients. We publish tables, put together by Ocean Tomo PatentRatings, that provide an overall top 20, as well as sector-specific lists covering life sciences, industrials, IT and electronics. Subscribers can see the whole thing by clicking here, for the poor, misguided souls who do not subscribe, this is the top 10 for overall quality:

1. Lee & Hayes

2. Trask Britt

3. McAndrews, Held & Malloy

4. Volentine & Whitt

5. Marger, Johnson & McCollom

6. Perkins Coie

7. Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner

8. Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox

9. Workman Nydegger

10. Fenwick & West

Quality, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But we like the OT PatentRatings methodology. Put simply, the firm uses a regression model to calculate simple probability that a patent will be maintained for the full statutory term. Scores are assigned and mathematically adjusted to provide a nominal expected score of 100. A score of 100 generally corresponds to an expected normal or median quality (average expected maintenance rate).Higher than 100 indicates above-average quality (higher expected maintenance rate), while a score lower than 100 indicates below average quality (lower expected maintenance rate).

To create the rankings, Ocean Tomo PatentRatings first selected the top 50 law firms according to the number of US utility patents issued over the trailing three years within each chosen sector and selected the top 100 law firms overall. To segment the law firms by the four representative industry groups and overall, issued patents are used that have both a prosecuting attorney and an assignee. Patents that have no recorded assignee are excluded. The resulting sets were sorted based on average score of the patents. All the firms featured in the article's tables scored well over 100. In the table above, Lee & Hayes scored 136.6, while Fenwick & West secured 120.1. By sector, the highest scores are achieved in life sciences (a range of 126.8 to 139.1); the lowest are in industrials (103.9 to 115.1). Neither of which is much of a surprise.

As I say, we are not publishing anything definitive and objective; instead the rankings are entirely subjective and based on one method - which you may or may not like - of assessing quality. In the end, though, when it comes to creating value from a patent portfolio quality is what counts. That's why we think it is an important subject to focus on.