Monday, March 21, 2005

Applying W. Edwards Deming to "patent quality"

Back in the early 1990's, there was some discussion of applying the quality concepts of W. Edwards Deming to law firms. Some of the papers suggested that Deming had not discussed legal issues. He had: Deming, On the Contributions of Standards of Sampling to Legal Evidence and Accounting, 19 CURRENT BUS. STUD. 14, 15 (1954).

As legal business improved, discussions of applying Deming to law disappeared.

Perhaps we could apply Deming style analysis to the issue of patent quality at the USPTO, first to see if there is a problem, and second how to resolve any identified problem.

In "Out of the Crisis," Deming asked, can American history, under handicap of the annual [job performance] rating produce another Irving Langmuir, a Nobel Prize winner? Deming said: It is worthy of note that the 80 American Nobel prize winners all had tenure, security. They were answerable only to themselves.

Deming then stated: A common fallacy is the supposition that it is possible to rate people; to put them in rank order of performance for next year, based on performance last year.


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