Earlier this year, we published our findings on some of the best performing patent firms of 2021. Now, we have evaluated this data at the attorney level, meaning that we can compare the activity and performance of patent attorneys and rank them based on their work.
To calculate this ranking, our Data Science Team had to develop an AI-based tool to read tens of millions of PDF documents available through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Public Pair website and then use neural networks to identify the attorney responsible for each application.
Most of the law firms, and especially the larger firms, file applications under the name of the law firm. Therefore, the first page of the patents and simple use of application metadata only shows the name of the firm (Attorney/Agent). But by reading and analyzing the PDF documents, we were able to identify the patent attorney who signed the application documents. These attorneys are usually the ones who draft the application, although in some cases, the attorney in charge of the client may sign the application documents prepared by other attorneys, agents or paralegals.
For this study, we limited our data to only U.S. utility patents issued in 2020. In the entire year, the patent office granted more than 350,000 patents. The following bar chart shows the top 10 most active patent attorneys based on the number of patents they obtained for their clients in 2020. Judging by the number of patents we identified for each individual (average of more than two patents per day), we believe that, at least for the majority of the applications, the top 10 attorneys or agents only reviewed and signed the applications prepared by their staff.
For each of the applications, we have calculated more than 30 unique criteria, including the number of extensions and interviews. The following table summarizes this for the top 10 most active attorneys and agents of 2021 based on the number of issued patents in 2020.
We further reviewed the backgrounds and clients for the above attorneys and agents. The most active person, Belinda Lee, is an agent with JC IP Group based in Taipei, Taiwan. The firm’s top two clients are TSMC and ITRI.
Six out of 10 people work for small IP boutiques. Travis Howell and Todd Guise both work for Oliff. The firm’s patent business is almost all from foreign clients. The firm’s top two clients are Toyota and Epson. Hosang Lee at Morgan Lewis joined with some other attorneys in 2019. As we covered in Patexia Insight 78, some Asian clients, such as Hyundai and Kia Motors, moved from McDermott to Morgan Lewis as a result of this lateral hiring. Maki Saitoh is a patent agent with Oblon. The firm’s business is almost exclusively foreign patent prosecution. Its top clients include Toshiba, Sony and Ricoh.
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10 comments so far.
MaxDreiNovember 29, 2021 09:51 am
Some reflection on the reasons why large manufacturing corporations file patent applications is sensible, when digesting these filing data. If you have a portfolio of, say, a thousand patent applications published, you have a thousand docs useful for disputing the validity of any patent asserted against you. Even more so under the AIA, where the obviousness attacks you can make are on the basis that your stuff was all published back on your home Patent Office priority first filing date.
Even if none of them is good enough to be successfully asserted against an infringer, that doesn’t matter. Their main importance is the help they give you to resist being enjoined and enable you to keep on selling. All those rooms at Foxconn full of trainee patent agents scribbling away: these guys are employed to imagine all possible improvements to the products of their competitors, aren’t they?
Fat BastardNovember 28, 2021 11:53 pm
Foxconn has rooms full of apprentice patent agents (not even “licensed” in their home jurisdictions) generating patent applications filed first abroad and then in the US. They do their own translations, too. One or two actual registered patent agents used to sign the applications filed in the US.
They actually weren’t the worst foreign-originated patent applications I’ve seen. But they weren’t good, either.
What a dreadful job.
Paul F MorganNovember 28, 2021 10:32 am
More interesting statistic for those called foreign filing factories [those which reportedly do not even amend foreign-written applications for U.S. PTO compliance or translation accuracy before U.S. filing, and generate examiner difficulties and complaints] would be their application filing numbers versus their issued patent numbers and their litigation success rates.
CuriousNovember 28, 2021 08:16 am
The following bar chart shows the top 10 most active patent attorneys based on the number of patents they obtained for their clients in 2020.
In reality, this is the 10 patent attorneys who sign their names on filings the most. I wouldn’t take anything else out of this data.
Particularly Pointing OutNovember 27, 2021 05:26 pm
I worked at a firm with me and other associates working under the supervision of just one partner. It wasn’t exactly a prosecution mill but we did high volume work at budget prices. Only the partner’s name appeared on the papers filed with the PTO no matter who did the work, and only the partner’s name was on the issued patent. Who was active, me and the other associates or the partner who got his name on everything?
Moderate Centrist IndependentNovember 27, 2021 04:40 pm
It’s a nice read but the conclusions are built on so many flawed assumptions that the accuracy of the conclusions are highly suspect. Naturally, the quality of the issued patents isn’t even a consideration. Do you get an award for producing the most garbage patents? Other than your share of the collected billings.