Examining Patent Examiners: Present Bias, Procrastination and Task Performance
This paper explores the unproductive procrastination behavior of patent examiners, probes whether such behavior is caused by present-biased preferences, and estimates the magnitude. We set out a quasihyperbolic discounting model where a patent examiner is assigned a biweekly quota of patent application reviews and determines the level of effort by the deadline. We estimate the present-bias factor of each patent examiner based on patent prosecution data in the U.S. and find that the proportion of present-biased individuals exceeds the majority. We demonstrate that the job separation rate is higher for less present-biased patent examiners, and a fragmented work quota can improve patent examination quality and timeliness.