The data released from the USPTO in its annual report shades the truth somewhat, but includes a number of important signals. The chart above shows the average first-action pendency (filing date to first office action mailing) for patent applications — showing a significant decline from 2011 with the USPTO’s continued aggressive targets for FY2016 & 2017. An important note here is that the ‘first action’ pendency treates RCE and continuation refilings as ‘new.’ Those re-filed applications typically have a much shorter delay before the first action and, as such, the reported pendency is several months lower than you would expect for a newly filed application. In addition, the report apparently includes design and plant applications (that also have a lower first action pendency than utility applications). All that said, the year-over-year decline is impressive and the trend appears set to continue.