The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published a report authored by its Chief Economist titled, Adjusting to Alice: USPTO patent examination outcomes after Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International. The report highlights how recent actions undertaken by the USPTO have brought greater predictability and certainty to the determination of patent eligibility in the technology areas most affected by the decision.

“We have heard anecdotally from both examiners and applicants across the entire spectrum of technologies that our 2019 guidance on Section 101 greatly improved the analysis in this important area of patent law,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “The Chief Economist’s report now confirms this general perception, especially with its critical finding that uncertainty decreased by a remarkable 44%.” 

The report’s analysis by the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist found that one year after the USPTO issued its January 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG), the likelihood of Alice-affected technologies receiving a first office action with a rejection for patent-ineligible subject matter had decreased by 25%. Likewise, uncertainty about determinations of patent subject matter eligibility in the first action stage of patent examination for the relevant technologies decreased by 44% over the first year following publication of the 2019 PEG compared to the previous year.

“The primary economic function of the patent system is to provide an incentive for greater innovation,” according to Dr. Andrew Toole, Chief Economist of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and principal author of the report. “Using an evidence-based approach, our report highlights the significant impact of the Supreme Court’s Alice decision on patent examination outcomes and the important stabilizing role played by the USPTO. This is what innovators and investors need to confidently promote entrepreneurship, create jobs, and advance science and technology.”

Director Iancu added, “I have long said that in order to ensure that the United States remains the global leader in the technologies of the future, our patent system must move beyond the recent years of confusion and unpredictability on subject matter eligibility. It is now clear that our recent guidelines mark a significant step in that direction, and I ask all involved in our treasured patent system to come together and solve, once and for all, this fundamental issue.”

The full report is available for download from the USPTO’s website.