USPTO Grant Rate: 2013 Forecast

by Dennis Crouch

Only two weeks into 2013, the USPTO continues to issue patents at a record pace. New patents are issued each Tuesday morning.  On January 8, 2013 the PTO issued 5,633 utility patents – the most ever issued on a single day.  The prior two weeks rank second and third on the all-time list.  Thus, although we are only two-weeks into the new year, if current projections hold the PTO will issue more than 290,000 patents in 2013. That represents a major jump from 2012′s record of 253,000 issued patents.

Two things are happening to cause this change: (1) the PTO now grants a greater percentage of patents than it did a few years ago – that percentage has continued to rise throughout the past two years; and (2) the PTO has a greater number of disposals – primarily because of the agency’s hiring binge.  In 2012, the first of these contributed more to the increased number of grants. I expect that in 2013 the increased throughput will have the greater impact as new examiners get up-to-speed.

The strength of this forecast will largely depend upon whether the Agency continues on the same path after Director Kappos steps-down later this month.  Deputy Director Rea is unlikely to move away from this course and may well push for more efficiency during her expected tenure as Acting Director.  However, the new appointee (yet unnamed) may be a different story.  A second major factor that could negatively impact the grant rate is another budget crisis that would limit the ability of the USPTO to pay examiners for overtime work.

23 thoughts on “USPTO Grant Rate: 2013 Forecast

  1. 8346615
    Issued: January 1, 2013

    1. A computer-implemented method, comprising:

    collecting in a computer system user-specific financial information of a user from a financial institution; storing the user-specific financial information in the computer system; receiving in the computer system a plurality of gadgets from a plurality of developers, each gadget associated with one or more developers; receiving in the computer system a notification that a platform provider has certified one or more of the plurality of gadgets; after receiving the notification that the platform provider has certified and collecting the user-specific financial information, generating a first web page with the computer system and providing the first web page to a client computer of the user, the first web page including an interface through which the user can select a gadget from the one or more certified gadgets; receiving in the computer system a notification that the user has selected a gadget; running the selected gadget on the computer system, including providing the user-specific financial information to the gadget and receiving output from the gadget; modifying the user-specific financial information in the computer system in response to the output of the gadget or providing content based on the output of the gadget to the user; receiving in the computer system a notification that the user has requested that a gadget’s access to the user’s financial information be revoked; and revoking the gadget’s access to the user’s financial information.

    I wonder why the applicant limited the claims to “financial” information? As if it makes a difference. I guess when you deprive an Examiner of oxygen all they can do is look at the size of the claim before they pull out the rubber stamp.

    Heckuva job, Kappos.

  2. link to cnbc.com

    Start early! Start now!

    Patents on methods of managing rental properties is the next big thing. Just be sure to mention the use of a POWERFUL COMPUTER BRAIN and the geniuses at the USPTO will happily pull out their rubber stamps. Promote the “progress”!

  3. Maybe you should write “the story” up and submit it to your local paper.

    Maybe the channels already existing should just pay attention.

    Curious too why are you not QQ’ing about this evident malfeasance (eyeroll).

  4. MD, you left out option 6 (ironically enough): less examination and more granting of invalid patents to meet Kappos’ quotas.

  5. It is curious that this story just doesn’t seem to gain traction with either the popular media or with academia.

    Maybe you should write “the story” up and submit it to your local paper.

  6. But the chart is perfect for showing the mindset of the Office and the Reject-Reject-Reject mentality that some revisionists are starting to deny ever took place.

    The Office was attempting to reject their way out of the growing application status (instead of actually examining on the merits). This view is reinforced with the concurrent efforts by the Office with its illegal Claims Limitations rule-making power grab (see Taffas and its attempts to make the appeals process far more onerous.

    The rest of the story, not necessarily shown by this graph – but duly noted by myself – is that the Office Reject mentality only served to create more backlog in each of the queues (new aps, RCEs, and Appeals).

    Further, while you may think the graph “wrong,” for your listed reason, this is the critical timeframe, and even modifying the graph to treat RCEs differently still shows an unnatural dip in allowance that can only be explained by an Office decision to simply not allow patents.

    It is curious that this story just doesn’t seem to gain traction with either the popular media or with academia.

  7. Probably all, but mostly, in my experience, I’d say it’s the PTO dialing back the broadest unreasonable interpretation and letting examiners allow a few cases that they know should have already been allowed.

    What I’m doing hasn’t changed much at all. If anything, I’ve gotten more aggressive in seeking broader scope. But my outcomes have been much better.

  8. The chart at the above link is wrong (in my view) because it counts an RCE filing as an abandonment.  Following the chart, a patent that issues following an RCE will be plotted as a 50% allowance rate. 

  9. Why a larger % of applns issuing? I suspect a combination of all of the following:

    1. Applicants more reasonable, in what they ask for

    2. PTO more reasonable in what it decides early to allow

    3. Clients less willing to pay for churning

    4. On the obviousness issue, the road to closure is shorter.

    5. Owners increasingly want an uncomplicated PTO file wrapper.

    So who takes the credit: clients, applicants, examiners or judges? Some of these groups, or all of them (to a greater or lesser extent).

  10. Shhhhh – nobody wake MM, as he might realize that Kappos actually said “Quality does not equal reject,” and then would have to figure out why he said that.

  11. Further back in time – the graph showing the Doll quoted “See how great our quality is? Look at the rejections (which by the way was directly refuted by Kappos’ “Quality does not equal rejection” directive).

    Can someone translate this into English?

  12. bja – context. The percentage rate is still important in context (and I recognize that you raise a vaild point – but that point was practiced by some since continuations were first available).

  13. I’m not sure that’s really relevant anymore given the rise in continuation practice (keeping an important application live in case you need to amend the language for litigation).

  14. Further back in time – the graph showing the Doll quoted “See how great our quality is? Look at the rejections (which by the way was directly refuted by Kappos’ “Quality does not equal rejection” directive).

  15. Yes – but how does that comapre to the long term picutre – especially including the time prior to the great cliff of “reject = quality” of the Dudas regime? I find it curious that that infamous graph never seems to be used anymore. Why is that?

    Is this merely returning to historical averages (after adjusting for the correction of finally allowing patents “held hostage” during the previous “NO in inNOvation” regime?

  16. Thanks MM – I fixed that unclear portion of the post. The PTO is granting a higher percentage of patents (and thus a smaller percentage is being abandoned) than a few years ago. 

  17. Thus, although we are only two-weeks into the new year, if current projections hold the PTO will issue more than 290,000 patents in 2013. That represents a major jump from 2012’s record of 253,000 issued patents.

    Two things are happening to cause this change: (1) the PTO now has a higher grant rate — a grant rate has continued to rise throughout the past two years;

    Dennis, you seem to be saying that the cause of the higher grant rate is … a higher grant rate. Do you mean to say that part of the reason for the increased number of grants is that a higher percentage of applications are being allowed? Is that percentage also at a record high (#grants/#pending apps)? With respect to this latter number, it doesn’t seem to follow necessarily that it would shrink as the existing examination corp becomes more “experienced”. In fact, one might intuit that the opposite result is at least just as likely as the result you propose.

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