Frequently Asked Questions

Who will use the Patent Quality Index?

The PQI provides information about the quality of patents (and patent applications) quickly, cheaply, and transparently. For this reason, we think that the PQI will provide a tool with great utility throughout the patent system. For example, consider the following examples:

  • A prospective patent applicant could use aspects of the PQI to evaluate the relative quality of the drafted application.
  • The PTO could use the PQI to triage or otherwise allocate resources to patent applications depending on their PQI scores.
  • Competitors could use the PQI to quickly and cheaply evaluate the quality of relevant patents in their field.
  • Patent-holders could use the PQI to evaluate the quality of patents in their portfolio, identifying weak or strong examples.
  • Researchers can use the PQI in aggregate to track and evaluate patent quality issues, such as overall trends, industry differences, etc.

Isn't this impossible? Isn't "patent quality" too subjective to allow meaningful quantification or indexing?

We don't think so. Many things are described in quantitative terms although they have aspects of subjectivity. The financial health of companies, for example. Or the quality of sports teams or players.

This is not to suggest that everyone will agree with the PQI. People will and should debate the merits of what we come up with. We hope that many will agree that it is a useful tool, but would be shocked if there weren't detractors.

Are you trying to replace patent examination / patent lawyers with an algorithm?

No. The PQI is not a substitute for a full validity analysis. Instead, it is best thought of as: first, a quick and dirty way to get a sense of the quality of a given patent, and second, a way to systematically compare patents along dimensions of quality. We expect that if the tool is right even 80% of the time, it can provide huge benefits - though it will never substitute for detailed validity analysis by human beings.

How can you measure the value of patents? Don't marketplace factors play a role?

The PQI doesn't measure the value of patents, it measures their quality - defined as a measure of how well the patent comports with the statutory requirements for validity in the patent law. Patent value is a very different thing: A very high-quality patent could be worthless in the marketplace for reasons that have nothing to do with the patent document itself (e.g., people may not want to buy the invention, the marketing might be deficient). Conversely, even a low quality patent may have substantial value, if the marketplace values the invention highly.

How will you make this information available? Will you keep the scheme or the results secret? Will you charge money?

A core principle of the project is openness and transparency. When an indexing scheme is developed that satisfies us in terms of accuracy and reliability, we'll release that to the world on this web site. That is, the factors/ components and algorithm will be released.

We also plan to develop a web application that will offer a user-friendly interface to the indexing system: for example, one will enter the various parameters and receive the PQI score.

The PQI, its results, and this site will be free and open to the public.


We hope to have an initial program in place by early 2007. We expect thereafter the indexing scheme will undergo constant revisions in response to feedback, better data, etc.

How can I help?

Thanks for asking. We have a range of needs, including

  • your feedback on what factors should be considered in the index -- what attributes of a patent or application indicate high or low quality
  • funding to cover the costs of the researchers engaging in this project
  • volunteers with substantial interest and something to contribute to the project

Please contact us if you want to help.