October 04, 2006

I thought it would be an interesting project to look to see how quickly the U.S. Patent Office issues utility patents. I began with the issue date of U.S. Patent No. 4,000,000 (December 28, 1976), and looked at how many days it took to issue the next 100,000 patents. I took increments of 100,000 patents through U.S. Patent No. 7,100,000 (issued on August 29, 2006), and calculated the number of days between each 100,000 patents issued. As could be expected, it took longer to issue patents earlier on, noting that the highest figure (658 days) occurred between the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 4,100,000 (July 11, 1978) and U.S. Patent No. 4,200,000 (April 29, 1980). Although it appears that the rate of patent issuance has leveled off somewhat, the shortest period of time (196 days) occurred between the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 7,000,000 (February 14, 2006) and U.S. Patent No. 7,100,000 (August 29, 2006). I also note that from U.S. Patent No. 5,800,000 and U.S. Patent No. 7,100,000, the number of days between each 100,000 utility patents ranges from 196 days to 259 days, the latter figure (oddly enough) being the time between the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 6,900,000 and U.S. Patent No. 7,000,000. (Click on the graph to open a larger version.)


CanadaPatentBlog said...

David French writes:

If I understand what's going on, your graph is the inverse of the rate of processing of applications by the US patent office.

By rate of processing, I mean through-put. Simply stated, the throughput of the USPTO has been going up over time.

Mark Reichel said...

Thanks for your comment, David. I tend to agree, noting however that the data does not show the actual number of applications filed. The USPTO is indeed issuing patents faster than ever before, but my understanding is that there are still a decent number of applications to be reviewed, which is one reason, and perhaps the main reason, why the USPTO is looking to bring so many examiners on board.

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