USPTO Patent Grants: Another Record Year (3rd in a Row)

by Dennis Crouch

I am now projecting that the USPTO will issue a record total of more than 250,000 utility patents this calendar year (2012) that is an 11% jump over the previous record set in 2011 and almost 60% more than the office issued just four years ago in 2008. (see the chart below).  The rise is largely attributed to President Obama’s choice of David Kappos as director of the USPTO. Kappos has focused the Office’s attention toward addressing the large backlog of cases pending at the PTO. The increasing number of patent grants reflect the results of that focus.  Behind the scenes, the USPTO is also rejecting more patent applications than ever before.


Through these efforts, the USPTO’s backlog of unexamined applications dropped by over 100,000 cases in the past year from a starting point of over 700,000 unexamined cases.

I also expect that the USPTO will issue over 22,000 design patents in 2012.  Apple’s $1 billion jury verdict is believed to largely rest on the value of Apple’s design patents covering the ornamental shape of their iconic handheld devices.

88 thoughts on “USPTO Patent Grants: Another Record Year (3rd in a Row)

  1. 88

    Sounds quite overly optemistic to me. Given the number of cases reaching trial it looks more like less than 100. Were down to worthless gadget buttons the 1 billion apple judgement to talk about now the biggest case of the year. Im not impressed by the big boys ability to invent I should say steal from here employees. Of course I am less impressed with Kaposes technical perfection rules there shutting down the office and now senator Smith has put the rule into the patent reform to steal inventors patents Retartives mut be replaced by progressives.Surely its a great opertunity for the European union to jump ahead in jobs creation with more inventor friendly rules

  2. 87

    You should realize Ianae that every time a inventor negative verdict is rendered it puts a chill on human advancement by reducing the perception of jutice avilability in the courts. Everyhing must be done to solidify inventors title or soon no new progress will exist. The present patent system is a shambles of corrupton and getting whorse wih new disincentives to create everyday. Nothing signifcant has been concieved in 8 years except my stuff and nothing will be without progressive change

  3. 85

    You asked for just one example – not one example of what you personally did.

    Wow. I’m embarassed to even be reading this stuff.

  4. 84

    anon, "real law?"

    Anon, if there is anything one begins to appreciate about law is that it is fact specific.   You seem to think in black and white with no shades of grey.

  5. 83

    And Ned, you cross the line big time when you fail to recognize that there is real law and not just opinions of law.

  6. 82

    You asked for just one example – not one example of what you personally did.

    To the point of what you personally post, there is such a high fluff to substance ratio, that truthfully most of what you write just doesn’t “stick.”

    Limiting the pool to the last ten days is something I quite obviously ignored.

  7. 80

    Fact and law: Alappat.

    I haven’t “blatantly misrepresented” the holding in Alappat nor have I “blatantly misrepresented” any of the facts in Alappat in the last ten days.

    So you lied. Again.

    What you’re doing is sick and obnoxious, “anon.” Please stop.

  8. 79

    Talk about somebody who is definately not paid thats me judges are making every wrong decision possible involving inventorship and Refusing to corect there defective inventorship decisions in some 10000 major invention matters Im owed trillions with no justice in sight. Now the congress is working to obstruct justice by eliminaing the invention clusters method of inventorship determination and shifting the focus to first to file instead of the inventor recieving the patent in violation of the constitution wile ignoring critical issues such as filer ,indegence ,survivability ,intmidations and large scale pirating consperacies.The whole thing is designed to commit fraud agaist the worlds greatest inventors and deny them there place in history. Vernankey needs the congress to order new money printed for compensation 15 tillion will probably work nicely Ill establish the first inventors national bank and be president

  9. 78

    anon, while you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to call other people’s opinions lies or misrepresentations. This is where you cross the line, and do so big time.

  10. 77

    The dead horses (anon calls them “prisoners”) are piling up.

    But, quoting your favorite dead president is a nice touch.

  11. 76

    Fact and law: Alappat.

    Another’s opinion: quickest example would be to Google brand search this blog for IANAE, or Ned Heller in one of the several hundred post threads.

    No comments on the other items such as profanity or strawmanning?

    And what exactly do you consider a comment like “see a doctor” to fall under? More of your legal brief writing practice?

  12. 75

    anon blatant misrepresentations of fact, law, and others’ positions

    There you go again.

    Please provide an example of a “blatant misrepresentation of fact”, anon. Just one. Then provide an example of a “blatant misrepresentation of law.” Then provide an example of a “blatant misrepresentation of another’s position.” I’ll let you go back ten days since you claim that I still “need work.”

    Here’s a hint, anon: you can’t do it.

    You really should consider seeing a doctor.

  13. 74

    You completely miss the point MM. What is desired is a change in the vacuous, profanity and insult laden posts that have been your hallmark. It is that and the strawmanning, non-sequiturs and blatant misrepresentations of fact, law, and others’ positions that also need work – even (and especially in light of the Professor’s efforts) on this blog.

    And to note, being paid is not the total picture (i.e. affiliation).

    But I do give you credit for attempting to move in the right direction (I’ll take baby steps).

  14. 73

    That was well said MM. Not exactly an apology, but I’ll take it as such.

    I can say the same thing:
    So for the record: I swear on all that is holy but most especially the exalted corpse of St. Ronald Reagan that I am not paid to comment here.

  15. 72

    But what is one to do if the prisoner bodies keep stacking up?

    This is a patent blog. There are commenters you disagree with. Try to cope. Maybe take a vacation and figure out what’s really important in life.

  16. 71

    MM has never squarely said he is not paid

    Pretty sure that’s false. Also sure that laughing outright at the charge is close enough, particularly when there is no entity (that I’m aware of) that would pay me (or anyone else) for the views that I espouse here.

    So for the record: I swear on all that is holy but most especially the exalted corpse of St. Ronald Reagan that I am not paid to comment here.

    Prediction: this will change absolutely nothing.

    Ned, you and MM have come after me before claiming I have sockpuppets

    What can I say except it seemed reasonable? As you know, I’ve argued with Ned/IANAE/MD/LB/others and vice versa. We don’t agree on everything. I’m not even sure we agree on most things. But we’ve all been trolled by the puppets. I don’t recall that happening to you, at least not with the clocklike regularity it happened to us.

    We know now that it’s because “anon”, apparently, agrees with you (at least to the extent you disagree with anon’s “enemies”). That’s hardly surprising.

  17. 70

    Night, I don't recall saying that you have sockpuppets.
    Night, further I'm not a paid poster.  You will actually see any change positions here in face of a good argument.

    Regarding positions, I have a real problem with using BRI in re-examinations.  I further have a problem with Beauregard claims, indefinite claims, claims that are functional at the point of novelty, business method claims, and claims that do no more than computerize well-known methods.

    Regarding other issues, I see both sides of the claim construction debate on whether a claim should be construed to cover the invention, or be construed to cover what is literally claimed, even if that leads to invalidity because that scope is not supported.

    Re: first-to-invent versus first-to-file, I prefer first-to-invent.  I don't think that eliminating the on sale bar is constitutional.

    On the whole I think you and I agree on most issues.

  18. 69

    I have pulled back on the “fight fire with fire” in respect to Prof. Crouch’s calls for a more meritorious blog.

    But what is one to do if the prisoner bodies keep stacking up?

    I have even offered ways to improve the quality and quantity of the meritorious postings (several times – which included warnings on strawmanning, non-sequiturs, purposeful mistatements of law, facts and others’ views, gratuitous insults and other things that have more impact on worthwhile discussion).

    But if those representing certain views are unwilling or unable to show any restraint, an unacceptable level of bias will result.

    NWPA makes some valid points. Real improvement will only come with real changes. So far, I’m not seeing that from “the other side.” This is no horse being beaten.

  19. 68

    If lobbyists (paid or otherwise) are as candid as you indicate, then no one will balk at such a requirement

    meet Queen Gertrude’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks

    Why does this seem so difficult? Instead of making the averment under penalty of perjury like anyone who truly is candid would do, I see only silence, premature representations of horses well beaten, protests of “prove it” (as if that were the point), and “well, it doesn’t matter.” But no one else willing to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

    Wouldn’t you all like to help Prof. Crouch out and have him able to enter a data cell in his massive database just in case he is subpoenaed one day?

  20. 67

    I would note too that one of the reasons it has gotten unpleasant to post here is that there are these groups of people that defend each other. IANAE typically posts a personal attack against me if I challenge MM or Ned. This is typical IANAE behavior.

  21. 66


    What a bunch of cheap shots. Evade the issue and launch an attack on me. You never address the issue of what are the differences between the paid and unpaid posters. You merely tell me that people don’t have to answer whether or not they are paid or not as you wouldn’t believe them anyway, or it is not comforting.

    So, 1) personal attack on me, 2) evade the issue, and 3) and say it doesn’t matter anyway as you wouldn’t believe it.

  22. 65

    I would like to know if people are paid to post here because I think it makes them less unlikely to change their views.

    I’m sure most people would agree that you’re by far the most irrational and intransigent regular poster here. You go around claiming that Supreme Court cases cited by the Supreme Court in the past year are bad law, and demanding that judges who disagree with you be impeached. I’ve never seen you change your mind once, on anything, in response to a reasoned argument.

    Still I would think about the behavioral difference between a paid poster and non-paid poster. The paid poster has a motive to spam a post against their client’s interest. A non paid poster does not have such a motive.

    Taking you at your word that you’re not paid specifically to post here, I’m not seeing the behavioral difference at all. What’s more, you have every motive to defend your clients’ interests, especially at a policy level, because any change in patent policy (or, in your case, no change) would result in them no longer being patent applicants, and we all know how that would affect your wallet.

    I notice too Ned, that MM has never squarely said he is not paid.

    Y’know, when people make that claim, it’s not as comforting as you might think. Besides, you’d never believe them. I wouldn’t either, if I cared.

  23. 63

    For my own two cents, I would like to know if people are paid to post here because I think it makes them less unlikely to change their views. And, a waste of time to attempt to change their views. I don’t think they should be banned, but letting us know that, for example, a person is being paid by pharma to post on the board would let us know that we are dealing with an advertisement and not a person.

    Attorneys are different. I have an economic interest in the patent system, but I am not being directly paid to represent any interest on this board. The paid posters are more like an attorney for a particular client at a trial who would be a complete waste of time to argue with, but you want to hear their views so you can prepare counter arguments, but it would be foolish to expect them to do anything but represent thier particular client and unethical for them.

    So, the paid posters really are a different animal. And, Ned, you and MM have come after me before claiming I have sockpuppets, but DC could confirm that I do not. I post under NWPA and Night Writer Patent Attorney. That’s it.

    I think the paid posters also tend to see this as a game. To bait us and they have an interest in endless putting out their client’s viewpoints. The rest of us who are merely attorneys or agents (or 6) have no such interest beyond a bit of ego. We are not collecting dollars by putting out arguments on this board.

    I’d be happy if I just knew if someone was being paid. They are different animals. I don’t think 6 is being paid to post. I presumed that MM and Ned were because of all the time they spend on the board, but given that anon seems to spend just as much time and is not paid, makes me question that assumption.

    Still I would think about the behavioral difference between a paid poster and non-paid poster. The paid poster has a motive to spam a post against their client’s interest. A non paid poster does not have such a motive.

    I notice too Ned, that MM has never squarely said he is not paid. I,a non-paid poster, am actually willing to entertain the notion that software patents are not helpful. If I were a paid poster, I would not.

    The paid poster has no motive to narrow the issues and try to understand what is the dispute.

    Oh well, that was rambling as I am tired. I have the motive to do so and find it a challenge.

  24. 62

    It certiantly wasent Barrocks work its all my old stuff from the 70s and 80s mixed in with organized criminals stuff but they ignored my new stuff so were 30 years behind the times as usual with congressmen that will find a not to special place for your sugestions in the bottom of there spam can

  25. 61

    Guess again there all virtual trash patents that wont produce anything all the good stuff is issued or pirated like my filed patents thats holding up selling them to fund my company so all of the significant marketable patents are being non concieved meaning no new jobs revenues or human advancemet. Government is spending 85 billion on temporary auto workers jobs 100 billion on two experimental power plants that are not connectable to the power grid 800 billion on temporary teachers and road improvements and zero on inventor stimulious to create 100000s of new unsatisfied demand new product jobs the way ive done for 57 years back to the great depression

  26. 60

    DC My preferred way to deal with this is by arguing the merits of our various positions.

    Mine too.

    It’s rather enjoyable, in fact, discussing the merits of arguments that I am unable to make on behalf of my clients.

    Also, it helps me prepare better responses to those arguments if/when those arguments are made against my clients’ claims.

  27. 59

    With all due respect, Prof. Crouch, my view of your opinion is that it is a massive copout.

    There is quite a difference between representing clients (and remember an attorney always has his own ethics as his first and foremost client), and the “shill” factor of being paid or affiliated with a source and basically pushing that agenda.

    Of course, merit tops all, but that also tops the “who” that attaches to anonymous or pseudynomous posts. Some preferences, it appears, are more equal than others.

    Why not provide a request that those posting must acknowledge any such payments or affiliations? If lobbyists (paid or otherwise) are as candid as you indicate, then no one will balk at such a requirement. A horse well beaten? Not even close.

    I’m up for it. In fact, it appears, I am the only one up for it.

  28. 58

    They certiantly need to find simpler and less litigation and less expensive litigation methods if they leave the wolf Kapos in there it will soon be a no chickens to pluck if its not already that way. Oh wait he just did the aia stuff to late the economy will have to stay in recession.I could have had tht all straitened out by now if only Oboma had a brain

  29. 57

    Consider how many jobs I could be creating if they had the 200 per year top inventions there now missing because of non investment in the correct chain of title and inability to invest in the correct chain due to the 40 methods. 1600 now and counting since 2004 when I quit allowing thefts. Remember ive produced the top 10000 since 1954 creating all of the fortune 1000 to pull us out of the great depression. Is there any investors in the house or attorneys

  30. 55

    Just, they don't have to actually sue to collect enormous amounts of money from licensing its patents.  If you don't pay, they will in fact sue you.

    I am personally aware of a cross license discussion that broke down between IBM in a major disk drive company.  IBM sued.  They (ab)used discovery to crush the disk drive company.  It soon went out of business, meaning it was acquired by one of its competitors because it was no longer viable.

    Is my personal opinion the IBM is the worst abuser of the patent system in the United States.  They license patents for money.  They invest in patents for licensing purposes.  To them it is a business.

    And who is it that is now the Director?  The former head of the IBM IP department.

  31. 54

    Yes ide certanly like to see equal protection for inventors in the form of inventor security provisions instead of inventor murder incentives like the new AIA has. The new provision allowing stealing the deceased inventors inventions should be investigated by FBI. Fat cats can afford security but inventors cant the playing field needs leveling give bck the inventors excess money from uspto

  32. 53

    listen anon, you and I think AI (Mr. 101) have been on some sort of vendetta against Malcolm and me. You have accused us of being shills and paid lobbyists and the like. I don’t recall any of us of doing the same to you, or at least not with such persistence and acrimony.

    That being said, I still think you owe Malcolm, Max and myself an apology for your liberal use of sockpuppets to harrass us. That, my friend, was unpleasant. I am glad it is history.

  33. 52

    Kapos was a indegent inventor corperate raider with IBM stealing everything from the little guy by pulling every expensive legal manover to run him out of money and the big corp takes all he has no business being where he is running the patentees side of the coin he is the wolf in the chicken coop

  34. 51

    This horse has been well beaten.  

    Practicing patent attorneys and patent agents are payed to represent the interests of their clients.  In fact, we are under an ethical obligation (whether paid or not) to represent the interests of our clients.  In some cases that is directly influencing our point of view. In other cases there is a more subtle influence.  Paid lobbyists have a particular point of view, but tend to be well informed and, in my experience, candid about their positions and the reasoning behind them.  So, I'm confident that we've got bias emerging in the form of comments.  

    My preferred way to deal with this is by arguing the merits of our various positions. 

  35. 50

    Talk to anon, Fish – it’s not my number. However, if you’re correct, 10,000 or so patent litigators are going to be mighty disappointed. I suppose they can make up the difference by drumming up some more defendants. Perhaps the new approach to inducement of method claims will help.

  36. 47

    recently provided a written declaration to Dennis stating that he/she has never, ever (ever!) taken money in exchange for comments posted here.

    A bit of theater? No. A bit of willing to put my money where my mouth is. And not only “take money,” but under no affiliation as well.

    I would go one step further and aver to those statements under penalty of perjury.

    Not only should Ned not have missed it, the original statement was directed to him in a reply to his post (so he was sure to have seen it).

    Don’t you find it odd that neither you nor Ned have been willing to make the same averment under penalty of perjury?

  37. 46

    What does that have to do with my statement?

    How can Romney change the “plight” of patent “trolls”?

    How does Kappos being formerly associated with IBM affect my observation of his being pretty apolitical as PTO Dir.?

  38. 43

    Absolutely patents are helpful to the economy because they create a exclusive market so the mew marketable products can gain momntium with proection from better organized competition this ensures monitary creative incentive to those who are struggling to climb the wealth ladder The only problem is the legislature wont listen to progressive idea form inventors so we have regression only now that needs to reversed

  39. 42

    Tell me guys what other antiinventor gafs did they sneak into this legislaion just before passage

  40. 41

    anon, perhaps now you will be so kind as to support your dialog here with argument and case citations instead of reverting to one of your sockpuppet identities to annoy your opponent, to cite with approval your alternative self, and to simply declare yourself right and your opponent wrong by fiat.

    When Dennis exposed you as the big sockpuppet here, it was a surprise to me. But now that we know who you are and how you have operated, why don’t you at least apologize to me, to Malcolm and to Max, three of your victims.

  41. 40

    Dont think so Leopold when you dont see any signifiant new products on the news in there innovation and tech programs thats bad my city transfered there girl that was reporting weekly and shutdown the show.Why no investors in my company and no contingent attorneys they all represent the 1% only aperantly so now there going to be laid off.

  42. 39

    MM, totally agree on the sockpupetry.

    Regarding patent system, adding the weight of troll patents (business method and software) to the pile is not a good thing, not at all. I wonder how much damage they caused the economy over the years. It could not have helped.

    Check this:

    link to

  43. 38

    Ned: if one is guilty, accuse others of the crime

    A well-known strategy. But our friend “anon” recently provided a written declaration to Dennis stating that he/she has never, ever (ever!) taken money in exchange for comments posted here. You must have missed that bit of theater.

  44. 35

    one-sided “shilling.”

    Which of the commenters here is a shill and who is paying him/her to shill?

    Dennis, are you aware of many commenters here engaging in shilling?

    silent complicity


  45. 33

    What? A Wall Street Banker more sympathetic to NPEs who use BMPs of dubious validity to milch banks and the economy of necessary funds for no good purpose?

    You really believe that?

  46. 32

    I dont think patents are irrelevant to new businesses there unenforcable and 40 methods of corruption will give them to the big guy they dont have top ideas that are worth fileing eiher the uspto could care less about justice and now filing the patent has a new deadlyness due to what hapens if the inventor becomes deceased they are promoting reassigning the patents instead of the inventors estate recieving them. The vermin transients in my neighborhood are beginning to eye me hungraily.I asked for inventor security and this is what we got disgusting

  47. 31

    KSR didn’t render patents entirely toothless. More like, it shrank the teeth in size by orders of magnitude. How is a shark to survive when it’s teeth have been so sorely reduced? Why, by arming itself with orders of magnitude more tiny teeth, of course.

  48. 30

    Of course, one option Prof. Crouch could pursue would be like the Patent Prospector and just suspend comments altogether.

    bold off

    That seems preferable to one-sided “shilling.”

  49. 29

    “Improvement” is not due to decreased number if sockpuppets because sockpuppets never was the issue dragging down discussions.

    It is, was, and always has been CONTENT. And judging by the number of dead prisoners around, that problem still exists.

    How long do you think silent complicity is going to last?

  50. 28

    lawyers/trolls/banksters is not about substantive patent law.

    That’s nice. We’re talking about the increasing record numbers of patent grants and who directly and indirectly benefits from that trend. If you don’t want to participate in this discussion, maybe you can find another thread.

    Speaking of which, the lack of sxckpuppets around here is a fantastic improvement. I hope it lasts.

  51. 26

    Companies cant reinvest profits without top viable marketable new products and the little guy that they want to squash has the ideas but they just want to rip him in 40 diferent methods

  52. 25


    You might agree with the tone of the comment, but lawyers/trolls/banksters is not about substantive patent law.

    There is confusion afoot, but not from my quarters.

  53. 24

    Jobs being created will soon reach zero as the important patents all go into the black hole of nonconception due to first to fraud AIA and Kapos

  54. 23

    Patents are completely irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of new businesses in this country.

    The number one problem facing small businesses today: people don’t have money to buy stuff.

    A couple hundred thousand patents on methods of information-collecting and targeted advertising over the Internet aren’t going to change that.

  55. 22

    Remember when KSR was alleged to represent the death knell for patents in the United States?

    I do.

    /moment of accountability off

  56. 21

    Respectfully, anon, while I’m not necessarily endorsing MM’s comment, it does not lack substance. One might even go so far as to call it “pithy.” Perhaps you’re confusing “comments of substance” with “comments I agree with”?

  57. 20

    …and this is the substantive posting from those other people that are orders of magnitude more circumspect…?

    Professor Crouch, “Maybe time to step up” indeed.

    Prisoners are dying.

  58. 19

    That’s a really tough guess. I have no idea. But I know that 100% of the startups that I deal with who don’t get funded hire no one.

    Your numbers are fine and pretty close I’d guess. Someone may get closer, but estimates are always just estimates.

  59. 18

    I can see a guy like Romney keeping Kappos, assuming that Kappos wants to stay. Kappos has been pretty apolitical in my opinion.

  60. 17

    Of course Leo is right. This is great news for lawyers and patent trolls, a few of our society’s most effective skimmers. Only the banksters have us beat (and Bilski notwithstanding, we can rest assured that they haven’t stopped trying to get a piece of the action).

  61. 16

    “His history with Bain suggests that he might be more sympathetic to the plight of non-practicing entities.”

    That made me laugh on multiple levels. The “plight” of patent trolls, and the idea that Romney would be sympathetic to anything but his own wallet.

    On a serious note, I highly doubt Romney even knows what his patent policies might be and the president has little to nothing to do with patent policy. On the other hand his political choices for who he wants to head the PTO do.

  62. 15

    This assumes that patents are in fact helpful to the economy. There is little to no empirical evidence to support this. It’s very much like trickle down economics which is a hypothesis that has been proven to be flawed, if not completely false.

  63. 14

    Those jobs created by startups are obviously a good thing. How many of those 250,000 patents do you think lead to jobs created by startups, and how many jobs?

    You can decide for yourself whether the jobs created by litigation are a good thing. As I said above, I’m not complaining.

    Note that my numbers are fairly wild, semi-educated guesses. But I’d be happy to see someone else’s calculations.

  64. 13

    I’m not complaining either, Jimbo. To paraphrase Roberto Clemente, patents have been very very good to me. Whether the current system is good for the economy as a whole might be worth discussing. But not here – people get way too excited.

  65. 11

    Funny you mention jobs. Because startups get funding much easier after the patent issues, which enables them to hire. How do those numbers work into your projections?

  66. 10

    For applications filed after September 16 you will eventually need to use and file NEW inventor[s] oath or declaration forms. You could also do filings with the assignee as the applicant.
    But by far the most significant AIA differences for different filing dates will occur for applications filed after next March 16. [Or, are already in effect.]
    [That was a good question. Does anyone else care to comment?]

  67. 7

    anon is right. 2% of 250,000 is only 5,000. Given 2 or 3 defendants per patent, that’s only 10,000 to 15,000 new defendants that need to worry, at a cost of perhaps only $2-$3B in litigation bills, perhaps a little more, keeping 10,000 to 20,000 attorneys fully employed. The PTO is creating jobs.

  68. 6

    Congress took years and years to give us the AIA. Under the leadership of Barack Obama, it is not likely to do any more. As for Romney, does anyone have a bead on what his patent policies might be? His history with Bain suggests that he might be more sympathetic to the plight of non-practicing entities.

  69. 4

    The rising tide carries all boats.

    That being said, the boogyman of litigation needs to be shownthe door. Keep in mind that far under 2% of all active patents are involved in litigation.

Comments are closed.