Mr. Armitage, the Lilly executive, said: "The doctrine of inequitable conduct is used so aggressively in litigation that it has unintended consequences. Applicants give the Patent and Trademark Office too much information, to avoid allegations that they concealed anything, and they refuse to explain the information, to avoid later allegations that they engaged in some form of misrepresentation."
James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said, "The poor patent examiner gets a dump truck full of information that he has to pore over without any assistance from the applicant."
The number of patent applications 467,243 in 2007 has nearly doubled in the last 10 years and has more than tripled since 1987.
Jon W. Dudas, the under secretary of commerce for intellectual property, said: "We are getting more and more unpatentable ideas, worse and worse quality applications. Historically, in the last 40 years, the allowance rate the percentage of applications ultimately approved hovered around 62 percent to 72 percent. It went up to 72 percent in 2000, but dropped to 43 percent in the first quarter of this year."
On reading this, I started to wonder if anyone had thought about possible open source methods for reviewing patent applications, and, lo and behold, this is something the USPTO is apparently considering. Link here.