The chart below shows the status of utility patent applictions filed over the past eight years. This morning, I pulled a random sample of 10,000 patent applications published 2005–2012 and checked the application status. For the chart below, grouped the applications according to the number of years since filing and plotted the percentage that are patented, abandoned, and still pending (WIP). Thus, for applications that were filed 7-8 years ago, just over 60% have issued as patents; about 35% were abandoned; and the remaining 3% are still pending.
Update 1: Here, I looked application-by-application and did not consider whether a particular application had any “family history.” Thus, an original application followed by a divisional application would be considered two separate applications in my dataset. However, the filing of an RCE does not divide the application into two for my dataset. One reader asked about re-files. Of the abandoned cases in my sample, about 20% have one or more “children” applications that claim priority to the abandoned application. Patented cases are much more likely to be associated with follow-on applications than are abandoned cases.