Sep 7, 2021Legal
Patexia Insight 113: Best Performing Patent Firms of 2021

Patents have been often considered as safeguards for your inventions, as long as they fall under the “patentable” category and meet the novelty, non-obvious, and utility requirements. Partnering with the best law firm while minimizing the costs has become key especially recently as the pandemic has put more pressure on some sectors of the economy.

As we covered in Patexia Insight 100, now more than ever businesses and companies feel the need for data-driven decision-making for businesses to reduce risk. Understanding the performance, growth, workload and financial health of the law firms can help companies to better decide on who to partner with for their patent prosecution.

Back in June, we released our 3rd Annual Patent Prosecution Intelligence Report, where we covered all high-level statistics related to the patent prosecution landscape, including insights about the level of the activity and performance of the law firms amongst other key aspects.
Our analysis covers the past five years, from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2020.

For the first time, our 2021 report now reveals the estimated 5-year patent revenue generated by patent firms and the estimated 5-year spending on US patent prosecution by corporations including the law firm fees, the USPTO fees and the US patent portfolio maintenance. We reviewed the performance and activity of 3,830 law firms that were active during this period and ranked the top 1,000 law firms and companies based on their Success, Efficiency, Activity, and Quality scores. Similar to last year in Patexia Insight 84, this week we are going to review some of the best performing law firms as covered in our latest patent prosecution report.

It has always been difficult to rank or even rate law firms and patent portfolios using quantitative measures. Not only data wasn’t available from the patent office, but also processing its large size was expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. Some efforts were made by ranking the law firms, judging by their activity, however, no data was offered to measure their actual performance.

For the past years, the Patexia Data Science team has been perfecting its algorithms in data extraction and processing, and the powerful computation has made this task possible. In order to measure the true performance of the stakeholders in patent prosecution such as law firms we came up with the following five high-level factors:

Activity: Simply, the number of issued patents or filed applications by a corporation, law firm, or examiner
Success: Obtaining a patent or patent claim from the perspective of the applicant, law firm, or attorney
Quality: The claim quality, broadness, novelty, and market coverage that ultimately make a patent or a claim valuable.
Efficiency: The speed and simplicity of the process of obtaining a patent
Cost: The overall cost, including attorney’s fee and the USPTO fees, for obtaining and maintaining a patent

For the law firms we decided to measure their performance with a weighted average of these factors covered by the following formula:

Performance (law firm / attorney) =  a1. Success + a2 . Efficiency + a3 . Activity

Here we are going to cover some of the best performing firms as analyzed in our 2021 Patent Prosecution Intelligence Report. The following is a list in no particular order of some of the best performing law firms ranked in different categories including bio-tech, high-tech, and overall among the top 100 out of more than 3800 patent firms (top 3 percent):

Slater Matsil: This firm earned its position with its high-performance rankings over the past few years. They are active mostly in high-tech, which has put them among the top 10 (4th position overall) in 2021. It’s worth noting that their top 3 clients include TSMC, Huawei and Infineon.
Esplin & Associates, PC: The firm was founded in 2019 by Benjamin Esplin in San Diego area after he left Sheppard Mullin to start his own practice. His firm is active in high-tech and was ranked the 7th best performing firm overall in our 2021 rankings. The firm’s top client is GoPro, a Silicon Valley tech company that was also ranked among the top 25 companies for the quality of their patent portfolio in our 2021 corporate rankings. The company just celebrated a patent milestone as they obtained their 1000th US patent this week.
Polsinelli: This AmLaw 100 firm has obtained a total of 5,985 patents over the last five years, with the lion's share going to tech giants such as Cisco. The firm ranked 14th best performing patent firm on the tech side. While the firm has a strong tech portfolio, in recent years, their activity in bio-tech has also increased and they are now ranked 31st most active firm on the bio-tech side. 
Perkins Coie: This AmLaw 100 firm as one of the most active patent firms with a total of 7,563 patents over the last 5 years, was also ranked among the 25 best performing law firms on the high-tech side. The firm has a diverse portfolio but Micron Technology, Inc. and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft  remain their top two patent clients.
Lowenstein Sandler: With 3,476 patents obtained for its clients over the last five years, Lowenstein Sandler ranked 11th best performing patent firm for high-tech in our 2021 report. The firm works with tech companies such as Google, and Red Hat.
Maschoff Brennan: This firm with over 4000 patents in the last 5 years was ranked 17th best performing firm in life sciences. The firm is also very active on the tech side and is ranked as one of the top 100 best performing patent firms in our 2021 report. They work with semiconductor companies such as TSMC.
Nicholson De Vos Webster & Elliott: This IP boutique firm which was founded in 2015 has been ranked among the top 100 best firms for multiple years in a row. In 2021, the firm was ranked 80th best performing firm in high-tech. The firm obtained more than 2,300 patents for its clients over the last five years. Intel and Ericsson are its two top clients.
Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo: This AmLaw 100 firm with 6,628 patents in the last five years, is not only one of the most active firms but also among the best performing ones. The firm was rnaked among the top 100 in life sciences and has a strong patent prosecution team for life sciences in Boston and other locations.
Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks: For the third year in a row, the firm was ranked among the top 10 most active firms in bio tech while improving their ranking from 6th in previous year to 4th in 2021. Furthermore, this firm is also ranked 56th best performing firm for life sciences. With a total of 5760 patents in the last five years, the firm is also active on the tech side as well and works with companies such as Sony.

The 2021 report stops short of providing attorney-level statistics. But our engineering and data science team is working with the USPTO on getting attorney-level data for our next year’s report so we expect to provide detailed attorney rankings based on the activity and performance of prosecution attorneys in our 2022 report. This will make our analysis go one step further by covering the attorney data, activity and performance. In addition, by leveraging AI and various data sources, we are planning to identify the rainmakers in patent prosecution and those who control the revenue for their law firms.

Stay tuned as we plan to cover some of the consolidations in the patent space including the firms that went out of business or merged with other firms over the last year or so. Furthermore, we will analyze the best-performing IPR firms and attorneys as we prepare to release our fifth annual IPR Intelligence Report next week.

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