by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 18th 2008 12:12pm
A recent lawsuit sheds even more light on just how poor quality control is at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The lawsuit specifically was over the firing of a quality assurance specialist, who's supposed to review patent examiner decisions to determine if errors were made in granting or rejecting claims. The guy was fired after it turned out that a random review showed his reviews erred 35% of the time. The guy complained that it was just a random sample rather than looking across his entire body of work, but that's not all that interesting here. What's more interesting is that apparently the "reasonable" cutoff for such QA specialists is a 25% error rate. Considering that their entire job is supposed to be double checking the work of patent examiners, you would think that getting one in four claims reviewed wrong would be ringing some pretty big alarm bells concerning the quality of any patent. No wonder so many patents are adjusted when re-examined. Even worse, the guy claims that his 35% error rate wasn't really that bad, saying that his colleagues often erred 45 to 50% of the time. What sort of QA is it that can barely QA itself?
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