By Dennis Crouch
As the popularity of design patents continues to rise the USPTO is struggling to keep-up with the demand on its examination corps. The chart below shows the backlog of unexamined design patent cases. The PTO only has capacity to examine about 25,000 design patents per year and a 1+ year backlog is unacceptably long for design patent rights. You'll note that the backlog dips each September when year-end-quotas are due. At this point the delay is not causing problems for applicants who need quick patent issuance because "expedited examination" is available for a $900 fee (with discounts for small and micro entities). Throughout this time, the allowance rate for design patents has remained relatively steady at about 90%.