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calendar_month Publicación: 04/12/2023

The Benefit of the Doubt: Patent Examination under Strategic Obfuscation

Autor: Nicolás Figueroa, Jorge Lemus

Abstract: An applicant privately observes the value of an idea and files a patent application.
After the examination, the patent examiner may not find conclusive evidence of the idea’s
value. In this case, granting a patent can be the right decision or a mistake. Moreover,
it can prompt obfuscation—effort to disrupt communication—by the applicant, reducing
allocative efficiency. We show there is more obfuscation when examiners are more lenient,
and provide an empirical exercise supporting this conclusion. We also show that more
examination resources do not prevent and may lead to more obfuscation. This result
continues to hold when applicants can invest in knowledge to increase their chances of
having good ideas. We also show that there is less obfuscation when good ideas are
harder to find.

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