High Rate of Patent Throughput Continues in 2011

By Dennis Crouch

The chart above shows the number of original utility patents issued each calendar year. Reissue, design, and plant patents are excluded. The figures for 2011 go through March 29, 2011 and the projection assumes that the average weekly count of patent grants from Q1 2011 will continue through the rest of the year.

To be clear, the rise in patent grants does not seem to be based on PTO rubber-stamping applications.  As the chart below shows, the number of abandoned applications each year is also at an all-time high. (Chart below uses fiscal years instead of calendar years).


Although down slightly in FY2009 – FY2010, US provisional patent applications continue to be popular for us-originated patent applicants. There are about three provisional patent applications filed for each us-originated utlility patent application.

48 thoughts on “High Rate of Patent Throughput Continues in 2011

  1. 47

    Serious rubberstamping is occurring in Class 705. The Supreme Court’s Bilski decision seems to have escaped the notice of the examiners in that class.

  2. 44

    I am surprised by the high level of abandonments… is this the consequence of the stricter examination (post-KSR/post-Bilski/post-?) by the USPTO?

  3. 41

    These comments have been made time and time again, but big D does not appear to be persuing that angle. I suppose any one of us could do the research, so I wouldn’t blame the D. Since I will not be doing said reasearch, the best I can do is evaluate what is being presented.

    Here’s my observation for this chart: I wouldn’t attribute a high level of accuracy to the 2011 prediction, because it is based Quarter 1 stats multiplied by 4. We should all know that motivations change constantly throughout a fiscal year, and the numbers at the end of FY11 will probably be fairly different than the prediction.

    I also agree with the comment above about “High Rate” in the title being misleading. Sometimes I wonder if the big D is being *motivated* somehow to spin the facts that way (no offense D)? I would even go further to say using “Throughput” in the title is a little misleading, as my understanding of “throughput” involves taking one number (subset) and dividing it by a larger total number (full set), i.e. resulting in a percentage less than 100 (on this point I admit I may be reading too much into it).

  4. 40

    Also, the retained examiners probably as a whole have higher average GS level than in 2005 (thus higher production requirements and more throughput). 2nd pair of eyes is gone, so the hesitancy to allow claims that one thinks are allowable is gone.

  5. 38

    shh – real dfacts only get in the way of the hand-waivy stuff from Sunshiine.

    mmmmm – fluffy.

  6. 36

    Although Iza must say that sometimes the Ol Eskimo has outstanding taste – like the recent 141 accolades that done near mirror my many observations.

    My aint it a shame that fluffy Sunshine just aint got a comment on that matter (must drive him nuts).

  7. 35


    Probably the most significant parameter to compare would be the number of Examiners, and to drill down more deeply, the production requirements of those Examiners. That is, if there were 4,000 or so Examiners in 2005 and around 6,800 according to the most recent figures, and if attrition has been fairly low, throughput is up. By the way, if accurate, this also suggests fewer allowances per Examiner based upon Dennis’s chart, suggesting that there are more rejections per Examiner, and allowances are not being easily obtained.

  8. 34

    Sure you do, Gene.

    Hey wait – Iza thought I was Gene. No, I was just bein downright Cy Nical.

  9. 33

    offer to unban you – LOLz there 6.

    Not. Likely. Youse just as ignorant as when ya got banned for your ignorance.

  10. 32

    Lolz there Sunshine – Gene’s site be way too restrictive for me.

    Wow – we have something in common – just my stule is on purpose and you cant help being an overstuffed prrck.

  11. 31

    No need to dig Sunshine (but I do need to put the point back onmy jabbing stick – I done wore it down).

  12. 29

    Gene tolerates all opposing views. What he doesn’t tolerate is lying and baseless accusations against individuals. That pretty much wipes out about 99.999999999% of your posts.

  13. 28

    “The level of discourse is a bit beyond you I guess.”

    Allowing posts that only support your point of view? Yeah, super high level of discourse. Even since Gene offered to unban me I decline to post on his site due to his near obsession with quelling any dissenting opinions on his site. I still read his comments from time to time and he’s all the time threatening to/actually banning/deleting the comments of posters. Such a “high” level of discourse is anathema to real discourse.

  14. 27

    Actually I have had a rather high amount of non-RCE abandonments in the past year or so. I feel like it is mostly just the tail end of the recession.

  15. 26

    Don’t thank me. Thank pingaling and the other patent flxffers who inhabit Gene’s echo chamber.

  16. 25

    I would also like to see the number of new utility apps filed per year over that same time period (excluding continuations and RCEs).

    Row well and live!

  17. 21

    I notice you don’t post on Gene’s site. The level of discourse is a bit beyond you I guess.

  18. 20

    Of course, you could just start your own blog, Gene. I’m sure you’ll get lots of comments! ROTFLMFAO.

    Ohh Ohh Ohh – can I be Gene too?

    Course I za need to ask the resident sockpuppet conspiracy mystery therorist Cy.

    Oh wait, Iza forgot, Cy is me.

  19. 17

    Of course, a post on the “high rate” of abandonments is going to crank up the wanking circle jerkers like Mooney, 6, etc. so to fire up the number of comments (“Hey, a judge might cite the blog and the number of comments!”) we get a post on the “high rate” of patents being issued.

    Of course, you could just start your own blog, Gene. I’m sure you’ll get lots of comments! ROTFLMFAO.

  20. 16

    I have seen some provisional applications which are so incomplete that they are not even worth the filing fee. Surprised that more litigation has not resulted.

  21. 15

    The most important thing that these charts dont show is the drastic drop in important marketable new product conception to near zero. The past and new patent system disincentives to conception are stiffeling human advancement. The rise in patent volumes reflects insignificant and trash patent granting that further chokes off the viability of filing on good inventions.

  22. 14

    The use of the term “high rate” in the title of the post is entirely misleading. Yes, the number of patents granted is at an all time high. As is the number of applications being filed. As are the number of rejections, the number of appeals, and the number of abandonments. Of course, a post on the “high rate” of abandonments is going to crank up the wanking circle jerkers like Mooney, 6, etc. so to fire up the number of comments (“Hey, a judge might cite the blog and the number of comments!”) we get a post on the “high rate” of patents being issued. Maybe we can dig up Mssrs. Quillen and whoever and talk about that “98% of all applications are allowed by the PTO” stat that they got so incredibly wrong so many years ago.

  23. 13

    To be clear, the rise in patent grants does not seem to be based on PTO rubber-stamping applications.

    Yes, but rubber stamping is certainly occurring at some rate, and that rate is probably as high as it ever was, and probably highest in the usual art units.

    More patents issuing = more rubber stamping = more crxxxpy patents issuing every year than ever before.

    Of course, there is always the possibility that humans are just becoming more and more innovative! That’s what we get for paying our public school teachers $200,000 year.

  24. 11

    Big D – I would be interested in what that new curve would look like if it had more than just abandoned applications.

    What does the Negative Action curve look like (rejections, not just succumbing to rejections)? This might be more telling – given your own comment on decoupling.

    Why do I think that it will resemble the infamous Duffas Curve (only inverted) ?

  25. 10

    The reason why you need to see those two sets of data side-by-side is that the viewer gets the wrong impression — i.e., the PTO has suddenly started started allowing patents for no apparent reason.

    A third set of data points, the backlog, would also provide useful context to the chart you’ve reproduced above.

    What I think would be valuable to policy makers (and I assume some are reading this blog) is a clear indication as to how the number of applications has drastically increased since 1998, but the number of applications issued has only started to increase in any significant manner over the last 2 years.

    Otherwise, the impression one gets when looking at the first chart is that 2011/2010 are aberations, when, in fact, the number of patents issued should be much, much higher based upon the number of applications that have been filed.

  26. 9

    And actually ya can easily triple that number if patent reform as it is gets through.

    And I do mean easily.

  27. 8

    Lolz – snide on snide.

    So, unless… we’ll be seeing 160,000+ provisionals/yr being filed by 2012-13.

    And for what reason would this be a bad thing?

    Political snide removed (too fluffy).

  28. 7

    So, unless we have another economic meltdown (quite possible, given that we’ve accomplished next to nothing in the way of regulating the entities responsible for the last one) we’ll be seeing 160,000+ provisionals/yr being filed by 2012-13.

  29. 6

    Thanks folks – You are correct that it is not suddenly easy to push claims through the USPTO. I have added a new chart to the post showing that abandonments are also at an all-time high.

  30. 5

    This is nothing but trolling – soaking the blog in kerosene and playing with matches.

    In addition to the point by Curious, which cannot be so casually de-coupled, one should also publlish a graph of the number of rejections (nonfinal as well as final) in the same time periods – lest the cry go out that the Office is merely rubber-stamping Affirm, Affirm, Affirm.

  31. 4

    At least one important factor in this wholly-justified increase is the freeing of many 1,000s of illegally blocked inventions by the innovation and Office damaging Dudas cabal.

    Big thanks to the Kappos team and all the hard-working examiners, SPEs, APJs, and PTO staff doing their level best to get things back where they belong.

  32. 3

    C – I agree that there is some merit to your statement. However, in my mind the enormous buffer of 1.2 million pending patent applications and the series of delays and roadblocks separating application from issuance has largely decoupled the inputs from the outputs.

    – Dennis

  33. 2

    For FY2006, there were 452K patent applications filed. By comparison, in FY1995, there were 228K patent applications filed.

    However, in FY2009, there were 191K patents issued, whereas in FY1998, there were 163K patents issued.

    I used these particular dates because the number of patents issued is a trailing indicator (I assumed 3 years) to patent applications filed.

    A more telling chart would have Dennis superimpose the number of applications filed per year as compared to applications filed per year. From such a chart, it is plainly evident that the bump up in the number patents issued for FY2010-2011 is more than justified by the number of applications being filed.

    link to uspto.gov

Comments are closed.