Long Patent App Titles Have Little Effect on Time to First Exam

We are constantly thinking about all the factors that affect a patent application. We’ve even analyzed gender bias at the USPTO (check back soon for those results). Every detail matters, perhaps even the length of an application’s title. That’s why we decided to test the following hypothesis: a longer application title results in a longer wait until first exam.



We are highly familiar with timing at the USPTO. In fact, all of our examiner reports provide the average number of months an applicant must wait before their application is reviewed. We also have detailed information on every application filed since the early 2000s. Thus, figuring out the relationship between the two variables was simply a matter of writing an algorithm.


Ultimately, we found only a very small relationship. For those who like hard statistics, our correlation coefficient (r) was only 0.050576. Graphically, it looks like this:


NumberOfCharactersHistogram NumberOfCharactersHistogram


To make this graph, we grouped the applications into clusters and calculated the average number of days for each cluster. As you can see, the correlation is minimal. We expected a much steeper line. In fact, because each point represents an average and not an individual application, this graph likely overstates the correlation. Just take a look at this heat map:


Heat Map Actual Heat Map Actual


In simplified terms, it basically comes down to this: an overwhelming number of application titles have between 25 and 100 characters, as represented by the brightly colored portion of the map. There is no obvious trend. If there had been a stronger correlation, the heat map would look something like this:


Heat Map Fake Heat Map Fake


Here, while the relationship is still weak (r=0.156), a correlation is visible in the red and green portion. If this represented real data, it would be fair to assume that an application with a 15-character title would be reviewed sooner than an application with a 100-character title. That, however, is not the case.


While a correlation exists, it’s not so strong that applicants need to shorten application titles. Nonetheless, it make us wonder if number of claims affects timing. Check back for the answer.

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