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A recent comparative study published in the John Marshal Review of Intellectual Property Law suggests that a more thorough examination is conducted by the USPTO, when compared to the Australian or European Patent Offices.  This finding is contrary to the view that the USPTO is generally the more lenient of the international patent offices.  In this empirical analysis, 494 patent applications having the exact same claim 1 and being issued in all three patent offices were reviewed for meaningful change, i.e. a substantial narrowing of patent scope based on a citing of a prior art.  The resulting finding was that the USPTO narrows claim 1 more often than either the Australian or the European Patent Office.  The full study can be found at http://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1401&context=ripl.

Published in Patent