It's always fascinating that these guys are constantly yapping about the impact Young Guns - entrepreneurial companies have on economic growth and jobs - yet when push comes to shove they turn to the usual suspects who aren't interested in anything that is going to wreck their entrenched business models and old school closed attitudes on technology, content, and intellectual property.
I cranked up the numbers as well and had an error on the placement of the decimal (my apologies - before coffee).
The only issue I have with your commentary is the statement that the owner of the patent thought the patent was too weak. My experience is that the owners request a reexamination as part of a licensing program and a litigation readiness exercise. When you are getting ready to enforce your patent and you can say hey, I'm confident enough in my invention that I had it examined TWICE and both times I got me some good claims. And at least 4 patent examiners evaluated my invention, it's game on.
It's not a patent for a ring it's a patent for the DESIGN of a ring. It's how the ring looks. BTW, Jimmy Choo patents the design of its shoes and Kimberly Clark - the owner of the Personal care article with substrate surface topography for evoking a neurosensory skin response (an absorbent pad for use during surgery, patent their designs so the knock off kings can't steal their stuff.
There are other things going on here that might change your opinion on the reexamination process.
First, of the 12,258 reexam requests 32% were initiated by the owner of the patent. The reexamination process is a precursor to many licensing agreements as well as enforcement activities. If a patent holder has a patent that is for technology viewed as really seminal or that is essential to the a standard, it is not uncommon to require a reexamination as part of that process to minimize risk.
Reexaminations are not the random subjective opinions of a particular examiner. A reexamination is handled by a team of three senior examiners including a supervisory examiners. Generally these are the best examiners on the subject matter.
The reexaminations initiated by third parties - other members of the public - are a by product of patent litigations. One of the tactics used during litigation is to request a reexamination. Since there are often multiple patents that are part of a suit you are going to see lots of reexam requests. While the report shows that 32% of the reexams were associated with litigations it doesn't reflect reexaminations requested as a precursor to litigation that may be settled outside of the purview of USPTO. Patents involved in law suits are generally the ones someone thinks are high value. Successfully reexamined patents are more valuable.
4.1 million patents issued from 1981-2011. There have probably been over 100,000 issued already this year. In the same period there were 12,258 reexaminations. This means that .002% of all patents being reexamined.
The average US patent has 20 claims that means that last year there were 4.9 million claims. Even if you use 10 claims per patent as the average since 1981 that means that the reexamination impacted roughly 82,000 claims out of 41 million claims.
And finally, every application must include a substantial new question of patentability. It's not like you send a patent number and a check and the examiners are off to the races. the SNQ has to document the justification for a reexamination.
While I'm not always a fan of USPTO, I am missing your point.