When it comes to high quality patents these are the US firms that lead the way

In the latest issue of IAM we run our annual focus on patent quality. This is one of the thorniest topics for any patent system and currently it is a major issue in the US, where the pressure to improve the quality of issued patents is so intense that the USPTO’s Director Michelle Lee has made it the cornerstone issue of her time in charge of the agency.

Once again this year, we teamed up with Ocean Tomo to look at which law firms file the highest quality patents on behalf of their clients. We leave the number crunching on this to the analysts at Ocean Tomo who use their own methodology to determine who is leading the way. Using Ocean Tomo's data, we publish rankings in four sectors – industrials, healthcare (pharma/bio), consumer electronics and IT – as well as an overall list covering all sectors.

The rankings include smaller IP boutiques, such as overall top performer Texas-based Slater & Matsil, larger IP specialists such as Fish & Richardson and larger full-service players, such as Denton and Morrison & Foerster. 

Here’s the top 10 firms in the overall rankings:

1Slater & Matsil
2Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner
3Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimey
4Meyertons Hood Kivlin Kowert & Goetzel
5Fish & Richardson
6Haynes & Boon
7Fenwick & West 
9Nixon Peabody
10Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman

Ranking based on Ocean Tomo Ratings score from three year patent count

Ocean Tomo’s analysis also gave us the opportunity to talk more broadly with key figures in the market about what is meant by patent quality and how case law and new USPTO policies continue to shape the debate.

Director Lee, who has appointed the first deputy director for patent quality and has announced a series of initiatives to support her campaign, also lent her voice to the debate by answering our questions on this hot topic. While she has less than one year left in her role, Lee admitted that making fundamental improvements to the quality of USPTO-issued patents will need to continue long after she’s gone. Here’s a snippet of what she had to say:

“Addressing quality is not a one-and-done matter. Instead, it is an iterative process and an ongoing initiative. As I know from my experience in the corporate world, any company that produces a truly top-quality product has focused on quality for years, if not decades. Quality must be built into an organisation’s DNA.”

As well as Lee’s comments we asked a number of senior IP executives what they thought was meant by patent quality. With feedback from Manny Schecter of IBM, Intel’s Jeff Draeger and Russell Binns of AST, their thoughts are well worth reading. Patent quality is certainly a subject to get people talking in this market. 

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