Can PQAI Save Inventors From Failing At The Patent Office?

How PQAI can Save Inventors From Failing At The Patent Office

Patent rejection statistics say: “The probability of failing at the patent office is much higher than that of receiving the patent.”

There are 88.6 % chances that you won’t get a patent on your invention.

“Your patent application is rejected!!” – No inventor wants to hear this!

But the hard truth is many inventors face rejection at the patent office. Either because their invention is not new or deemed obvious. The figure below shows patent rejection statistics for patent applications filed between 2017 – September 2020. 21.28% of rejections were because the invention was found non-novel or not new (102 Type). 46.95% of rejections were because the invention was found obvious due to a combination of two or more prior arts (103 Type).

Patent Rejection Statistics
Note: Stats are based on the rejections (Final + Non-Final) given by the Patent Examiners for U.S. applications from 2017 to September 2020.

Let’s Read The Inventor’s Mind


Is my idea new? Maybe.

I need to find out if someone has created a product like my invention.


Let me do a quick Google check.

…Search in progress…

After 15 minutes…

…No matching results were found!..

So cool, no one thought about it until now! Yayyyy!


Let me get a patent on my invention.

Hopefully, I can sell it for a good price $$$


Let me take some help from an I.P. community on the internet.

…after some Google search and help…

Yay! Patent application has been filed.


“Your patent application is rejected!!”

Oh No 🙁 all $$$ went to waste.

Would you apply for a patent if you knew there was an 88.6% chance you won’t get it?

Probably not. Alternatively, you would want to look for ways to succeed at the patent office! A few ways could be checking if:

  1. Something similar to your invention already exists in the market.
  2. Someone has already patented that invention.
  3. Someone has described an invention like yours in public.

You would drop the patenting idea or refine your invention with all this information.

Finding this information could be challenging. In this post, we have shared a solution that can increase your chances of success at the patent office.

Before that, let’s look at the patent office’s data about the issuance rate.

Probability Of Receiving A Patent

The other day, I came across a research paper by Yale University, What is the Probability of Receiving a U.S. Patent?, published in Yale Journal of Law and Technology in Issue 1 of 2015. 

Authors of the paper:

  • Deepak Hegde, Associate Professor of Management at Yale University, 
  • Dr. Alan Marco, Chief Economist at the USPTO, &
  • Michael Carley, Senior Data Analyst at T-Mobile.

The authors dived into the issuance rate at the USPTO.

Deepak et al. studied 2.15 million utility patent applications filed between 1996 and 2005 and examined them until June 30, 2013. The key highlight of their study is the continuous decline in allowance rate with each year. 

In 1996 about 70% of patent applications turned to a patent which by 2005 fell to 40%. 

urther, their study points out that the chances of a patent application getting granted in the first go – First-Action Allowance – is only 11.4%. In other words, there is an 88.6% chance that the examiners will reject a patent application at the USPTO.

First-Action Allowance 

You might be wondering what the first action allowance is. Don’t let the jargon bother you. The first-action allowance means the patent got granted in the first go itself.

To top it off, the situation is even worse for the inventors at small companies – companies with less than 500 employees. Their first-action allowance rate for inventors from small U.S. companies or individual inventors was only 9.3% during the period, while the inventors from large U.S. companies had a slightly better first-allowance rate of 10.7%. Their foreign counterparts fared well, however, due to a possible reason that they file only the most critical patent applications in the U.S.


Further, there is a considerable gap of 15.8% in the allowance rate between Large (75.3%) and Small corporations (59.5%) in the U.S. Another striking finding of the study is that the application filed by small inventors in the biomedical domain has bleak chances of receiving a grant.

Reasons For Rejection Of The Patent Application

One plausible reason for the high rejection rate is that inventors are unaware of the existing prior art. By prior art, we mean that an invention like yours exists. Either as a product in the market, a concept disclosed in a patent or a non-patent document. The patent rejections statistics where the popular rejection is USC 35 103 confirm this.

102 Type Rejection

The examiner gives 102 type rejections when he finds an exact prior art invalidating claims of a patent application.

Patent Rejection Statistics
Note: Stats are based on the rejections (Final + Non-Final) given by the Patent Examiners for U.S. applications from 2017 to September 2020.

103 Type Rejection

The examiner gives 103 type when he combines two or more references to prove an invention disclosed in a patent application as obvious.

Patent Rejection Statistics
Note: Stats are based on the rejections (Final + Non-Final) given by the Patent Examiners for U.S. applications from 2017 to September 2020.

Is It The Time To Rescue The Rescuer?

An increase in the number of rejections shoots up the time to get a patent and also the patent filing cost. This discourages small companies that don’t have a big budget, especially startups and individual inventors. To top it off, even if a patent is granted, its chances of making money remain slim.

One of the main reasons for the rejection is existing prior art that proves either the invention is ‘not new’ or ‘obvious.’ Hence, it’s time to equip inventors better to be successful at the patent office.

A Possible Solution

Thus, if there exists an intelligent tool capable of making an inventor aware of other solutions/references that already exist and could lead to his invention being deemed obvious or non-novel, he would be in a better position to make a go or no–go decision. In addition, he may share this detail with his attorney for a consultation, which may lead to a claim amendment before filing an application or other similar strategy.

Such an intelligent tool could have the capability to clear the cloud of uncertainty from the patent filing sky. In addition, it could facilitate well-informed data-backed patent filing strategies, which have the potential to bring down the patent prosecution cost, time, and the number of rejections.

The Ultimate Guide To Prior Art For Inventors

The Ultimate Guide To Prior Art For Inventors PQAI

Inventors get many queries like: Can I get a patent on my invention? What is prior art? Can a YouTube video count as prior art? We have prepared this guide to prior art to help inventors succeed in their patent-seeking journey.

Can I Get A Patent On My Invention?

You came up with a breakthrough idea, a cot that can put babies to sleep using a particular vibration pattern and soothing music. Many parents can’t get enough sleep if their babies don’t sleep well at night. You have solved a problem that a lot of parents face. A lot of parents might be interested in buying such a cot. You see a possibility of a significant revenue stream. And because you feel your invention is novel, you see that it has the potential to be patented.

However, there is a possibility that someone else has already come up with a similar invention and received a patent on it. Now that patent is a “prior art” that can stop you from receiving a patent on your invention.

I hope this example gave you the basic idea of prior art. In this post, we have provided a detailed, visual, and very clear explanation of everything you need to know about it. We have also shared how you can conduct a “Zero Budget Prior Art Search.”

What is Prior Art?

Prior art is any evidence that an invention is already in existence or publicly available prior to the patent application filing date. The invention does not need to be commercially available or exist physically to be prior art. It suffices that the invention has been previously described or shown to be something that contains the use of technology like your invention.

So, if you file a patent without searching for prior art and the patent examiner finds that your invention is not novel (new), you receive ‘§102 type rejection’: “Non-novel or not new.”

21.28% of patent applications got rejected over a period of ~4 years from 2017 to September 2020 because they did not meet the ‘novelty’ criterion.”

There is one more common reason for rejection: ‘§103 type rejection’: “Obvious improvement over the prior art.”

46.95% of patent applications got rejected over a period of ~4 years from 2017 to September 2020 because they did not meet the ‘non-obviousness’ criterion.”

Note: Stats are based on the rejections (Final +Non Final) given by the Patent Examiners for the US applications from 2017 to September 2020

The §102 and §103 constitute 68.23% of the total rejections. This indicates that either an examiner found a prior art questioning the novelty of an invention disclosed or an examiner combined two or more references to prove that an invention disclosed is obvious.

Inventors must invest in a thorough search of past and present products and patents before they conclude on the novelty and non – obviousness of their invention.

Does this count As Prior Art?

A similar invention is available in a video on Youtube. Does this mean we cannot obtain a patent for that invention?

It certainly can, depending on the similarity with your invention.

Credits: r/patents

Inventors often have queries about what counts as prior art and if a piece of certain public information can be the reason for the rejection of their patent application. Such disclosures can act as a prior art depending upon the level of similarity with your invention.

Any invention publicly disclosed or made publicly available in any language or any part of the world may be considered prior art. 

It can be a:

  • a product that was available for sale,  
  • an invention used commercially, 
  • printed or electronic forms of articles, 
  • publications, texts, journals, 
  • presentation at a public event, 
  • or any form of public use of the invention.

An existing product or patent is the most obvious form of prior art. Unfortunately, inventors often assume that because they cannot find a current commercial product containing their invention, their invention must be novel. 

This assumption is far from reality. Inventions often never become products, yet there may be public records showing their existence. That record counts as prior art.

Does This Not Count As A Prior Art?

Generally, publicly available information after your patent application’s ‘effective’ filing date (or priority date) would not qualify as prior art.

Also, patent applications filed after yours generally would not qualify as prior art.

#sidenote: A trade secret does not count as prior art.

Also, patent applications that are filed after yours generally would not qualify as prior art.

#sidenote: A trade secret does not count as a prior art.

What Is Prior Art Under AIA:  §102, §103?

The America Invents Act (AIA) is a complex bill that includes a significant change to U.S. patent law. The AIA relates fundamentally to whether or not an invention can be classified as prior art, with arguably the most impactful change being the shift from a “first to invent” system to a “first inventor to file” system on March 16, 2013.

Section 102: First to Invent Vs. First Inventor to File

Pre-AIA Sections 102(a) and 102(e): Patents were granted using the “first to invent” system. The section provides that an inventor is not entitled to a patent if the claimed invention was already patented, described in a patent or is in public use by another inventor before the claimed invention.

For example, under old U.S. patent law, an inventor could rely on the earliest documented date of the invention and obtain priority to another inventor with an earlier-filed application.

AIA Section 102(a): Prevents a patent if the claimed invention was described in a patent or patent application filed before the effective filing date of the invention.

For example, under the AIA, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will award a patent to an inventor with the earliest effective filing date. The earliest effective filing date is the original date that the application was filed.

Section 103: Obviousness

Pre-AIA Section 103: Prevents patenting of an invention if it would have been evident at the time the claimed invention was made.

AIA Section 103: A patent may not be obtained if the invention had been obvious before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.

Example: Prior-art reference (1) teaches encryption. Prior-art reference (2) teaches how to send an email. Then sending an encrypted email would not be novel. It would be ‘obvious’ because there is a motivation to send emails in a form that would allow them to be read only by the intended recipient. 

How To Conduct A Prior Art Search?

  • telling your innovative idea to a friend,
  • and asking the friend if he has heard or seen something like it.
  • assuming that the friend knows it all if he says he has not heard of it;
  • your invention is new, and there is a possibility of getting a patent over it.

Because you want to determine if your invention is new or novel enough to get a patent on it.

However, that’s the ideal scenario and far from reality.

Free Prior Art Search Resources

It can be pretty challenging for an inventor who is (often) not skilled to conduct a prior art search. Although many free resources for patent or prior art searching are available, most do not understand natural language queries. To name a few:

Besides, companies often use deceptive language in patents to hide their I.P. activity from competitors. That makes it further challenging to find the relevant prior art.

Inventor’s Plea

Look at the snapshot below; we have picked this from Reddit (r/patents). Clearly, the inventor tried to look for prior art in USPTO and Google patents but faced difficulty with language and search navigation.

Credits: r/patents

Challenges To Prior Art Search 

The Right Keywords (Synonyms)

“Bendable,” “Foldable,” and “Flexible” are some synonyms that can be used to refer to the same aspect of an invention. Of course, different patent drafters would have used other terms. However, you don’t want to miss out on any relevant results; hence, it would be necessary to take care of synonyms while searching.

The Complex Search Queries

The patent databases are a vast set of information. Thousands of results are received for a single query. Complex search queries are the only way to narrow down the results. These queries are nothing but keywords arranged with a specific logic (Boolean (AND/OR) search string) to get relevant prior art results. 

The Patent Language

The patents are usually drafted in precise language, which is difficult for a person with a non-IP background to comprehend. For example, a computer might be written as “an information exchange system” to cover other similar devices like phones, tablets, etc. 

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Prior Art Search Done?

Professional Search Fees

According to UpCounsel if you hire a professional to conduct an in-depth prior art search, it shall cost you anything between $1000 to $3000 based on the complexity of the invention.  

  • $1,000 to $1,250 for simple inventions
  • $1,250 to $1,500 for slightly complex inventions
  • $1,500 to $2,000 for moderately or relatively complex inventions
  • $2,000 to $3,000 for highly complex inventions or software

Government Search Fees

The USPTO fee for conducting a patent search or prior art search varies according to the entity size. The fee is less for small and micro entities, so it’s less for individual inventors like yourself. ($40 to $700)

The snapshot presented below is from USPTO’s website, which shares complete details of patent-related fees.

Depending on the type of patent, the fee is different: Utility, Design, or Plant.

Here are quick definitions for different patents based on which you can decide which category your invention falls.

Utility Patent

It protects a useful machine’s process, manufacture, and composition of matter.

Design Patent

It protects the product’s shape, appearance, patterns, design, layout, or looks.

Plant Patent

It protects a new and unique plant’s key characteristics from being copied, sold, or used by others.

How To Conduct A Prior Art Search Yourself With Zero Budget?

You need money or skill to conduct a comprehensive prior art search. With money, you can hire an I.P. research firm to perform your prior art search. With skill, you can use other prior art search engines that require you to create sophisticated keyword search strings and go through hundreds of documents to find relevant prior art.

However, if you want to determine the novelty aspect of your invention, you neither need money nor skill.

Yes, you read it right!

We would say, don’t go by our words. Try it out yourself!

A quick search on PQAI (An Initiative by AT&T ) is enough for you to determine the novelty of your invention.

Prior Art Search Using PQAI

Here is how you can conduct the search:

  1. Go to
  2. You shall see a search query box as shown below.
PQAI Prior Art Search Tool Snapshot

3. Let’s try a sample query. How about – “A machine learning based system to sort out the waste based on the images captured by the camera in the past”?

PQAI Prior Art Search Tool Snapshot

Now, let’s take a look at the snapshot presented above. We found a prior art similar to the invention query we entered.

4. The best part is each result shows the claim mapping. That means the relevant section in the prior art document matches the invention query. This makes it super easy for the researcher to look for matching elements between the invention and the result.

5. The following options accompany each result:

  • Save – Like you bookmark the web pages, you can save the results. Saved results are available for your future reference.
Saved Results Section - PQAI Prior Art Search Tool Snapshot
  • Find Similar – This option helps in further refining the search results. As the name suggests, you get to see ten more similar results matching that selected result.
  • View Document – With this option, you can view the selected result document in a new tab. Example: If it’s a U.S. patent, you will be directed to the Google patents link for the selected patent.
  • Feedback – With a thumbs up or thumbs down, you can give feedback on the relevancy of the result.

6. If this has given you a decent idea of how you can use PQAI to conduct a prior art search. Go ahead and give it a try!

Once you establish the novelty of your invention, the next step is to fill out the invention disclosure form. An up-to-date invention disclosure form shall help you prepare for a meeting with a patent attorney.

Let’s Sum It Up

You don’t want USPTO to reject your patent application because someone else has already patented an invention like yours. To ensure the same, it’s necessary to find out if your invention is new before filing a patent. The easiest and most cost-effective way is using PQAI Prior Art Search Engine.

Besides determining the novelty of your invention, you need to check your invention for patentability. First, you must ensure that your invention is a patentable subject matter.

Conducting a prior art search benefits you in many other ways than just novelty determination. To name a few:

  1. Conducting a prior art search early in the process shall help you save resources that would have been otherwise used in pursuing it for patenting. It won’t make financial sense if someone else has already patented it.
  2. When you read the patents on inventions like yours, you will be better positioned to refine your idea. And refine it in a manner that it’s new and non-obvious.

If you have any queries about prior art searches using PQAI, feel free to write to us “[email protected]”.