By Dennis Crouch
This post is a follow-up on my November 2012 discussion of provisional rights entitled Provisional Patent Applications as a Flash in the Pan: Many are Filed and Many are Abandoned.
Provisional patent applications continue to be more popular than ever. In FY2012, more than 160,000 provisional patent applications were filed – a new record. Although the number of provisional applications continues to rise, applicants have also been abandoning more of these provisional applications without relying upon them for priority. The bar chart below helps to show this result. The red bars represent the number of provisional applications filed each fiscal year. The blue bars represent the number of provisional applications filed in a given fiscal year that are relied on as a priority document – either in a US non-provisional application or an international PCT application. The difference between the two charts is the number of provisional applications abandoned without being used as a priority document. (Note – reliance/abandonment information is not yet available for FY2012 because those applications have not all been pending for at least one year.)
The second chart (labeled Abandoning Provisional Applications) reformats the information from above to show the percentage of provisional applications that are abandoned without being relied upon as a priority document.
What is apparent from the chart below is a greater percentage of provisional applications are being abandoned without reliance each year. I should note here that my prior estimate of 50% being abandoned was close but still an over-estimate. Rather, 48% of provisional applications filed in FY2011 were abandoned without being relied upon as a priority document.
As I previously wrote, the significant and growing number of provisional that are abandoned-without-reliance is a sign that patent applicants are very much using the non-provisional/PCT application filing as a culling point. These are big numbers – for FY2011 we're talking about over 72,000 provisional applications that are lost in the wind.