By Dennis Crouch
The USPTO issued more utility patents in calendar year 2011 than in any year in history. The 2011 total – just shy of 225,000 issued patents – is only a small increase over 2010, but towers above all other historic figures. The previous record was set in 2006 with about 173,000 issued utility patents. The dramatic rise in issuance rate is not tied directly to an increase in filings (although there has been a small increase in new application filings). Rather, the two-year increase appears to be the result of regime changes instituted by USPTO Director David Kappos who took office mid-year 2009 after being nominated by President Barack Obama.