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The answer likely depends on 1) to what extent the firms rely on patenting, and 2) whether the firm can get around difficult examiners/art units.

Please provide anecdotal examples or experiences, if possible.

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This is entirely anecdotal. I worked for years in a large medical products firm. Patents were essential and R&D spending was not impacted by patent office challenges. However, it is certainly possible that in other industries with faster product life cycles, pursuing patents is seen as less important. Even so, I kind of doubt it impacts R&D spending much. It is also possible that with small firms patent delays are a bigger issue.

Certainly in the case of my own patents we had several difficult examiners. In one case, in particular, my lawyer had to appeal to the examiner's supervisor when the examiner was completely misunderstanding the prior art. Generally speaking, we were successful in obtaining effective patents. A lot has to do with the quality of the patent attorney or agent.

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It has been several years since I worked at a huge technology company but my two cents is that problems with and examiner here and there would not affect corporate strategy but a strong trend toward classes of inventions having reduced chances of getting a granted patent would.

The limited ability to get patents on business methods, software, anything that be reduced to a gist that seems abstract (almost everything), and DNA related patents should be causing companies to re-think ways to protect their R&D investments.

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  • The patenting of naturally occurring DNA sequences rightly isn't patentable. However the use of a sequence in, say, a diagnostic assay certainly is patentable.
    – Eric S
    Apr 18 at 14:56
  • From an NPR article "The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that human genes cannot be patented, upending 30 years of patent awards granted by the U.S. Patent Office. The court's unanimous decision has enormous implications for the future of personalized medicine and in many ways is likely to shape the future of science and technology." Upending 30 years of patent awards was a big change in the system that took away what was previously patentable subject matter. Some argue that it is a setback for incentivizing life-saving R&D. I do not know who has the better argument.
    – George White
    Apr 19 at 21:02
  • People were literally patenting a naturally occurring sequence and saying “to diagnose disease X”. Sometimes not even specifying the disease. It was crazy as there was no enablement. You can, however, select a sequence, design primers and probes targeting that sequence and get a patent on the resulting PCR assay using said components.
    – Eric S
    Apr 19 at 21:18

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