US patent reform
Last year’s benchmarking survey gave relatively positive first impressions of the USPTO reforms instituted by Director Iancu. This time around there is a clear drop in support from IP-owning businesses and private practitioners. Numbers for strong support among corporates dropped from 34% to 26%, and there was an increase in the number saying that they somewhat opposed the reforms (up from 0% to 7%). These trends are echoed in the private practitioner responses, with those reporting strong support dropping from 18% to 9%, and the impartials growing from 18% to 25%.
Law firm professionals have generally remained supportive of legislation to reform Section 101 of the US patent statute, with 52% voicing their support. However, responses from IP-owning businesses were a bit more complex: 31% stated their strong support and 27% said that they somewhat support the initiative, but there was a noticeable uptick in the amount of opposition to the reform, up to 12% from 3%.
Ultimately, both private practitioners and corporates have reported a notable drop in optimism over the year regarding the US patent system. In 2019, 43% of patent owners said that they were optimistic, but this dropped to 26% in the 2020 results. Further, those selecting ‘less optimistic’ jumped from 10% to 17%. Legal professionals expressed similar views, with ‘more optimistic’ falling to 17% from 30%.