Pending Patent Applications


For this study, I collected PAIR data from a sample of about 10,000 published utility patent applications that were filed 2007-2016. (not considering priority claims). For each of those applications, I simply categorized whether the application was (1) patented; (2) abandoned; or (3) still pending.  The chart above shows the results grouped by quarterly filing date.  Looking at applications filed in 2014q4 (~ two years ago) 26% are patented, 6% abandoned, and 68% still pending. By the time applications application have been pending for four years only about 15% remain pending.

There are few abandoned applications during the first 2 1/2 years of pendency – it seems that most applicants wait at least for a final rejection before giving up.  An application pending for 4+ years is likely to involve substantial after-final practice (RCEs, appeals, etc.) that substantially slows down final resolution.


21 thoughts on “Pending Patent Applications

  1. 3

    Amdocs v. opennet

    Claims are not directed to patent ineligible abstract ideas (or are,but recite significantly more, whatever).

    Interesting majority/dissent, from the majority, at 10-11:
    The dissent offers a different paradigm for identifying an abstract idea: “it is apparent that a desired goal (i.e., a ‘result or effect’), absent structural or procedural means for achieving that goal, is an abstract idea.” Dissent at 6–7. The dissent focuses on the difference between ‘means’ and ‘ends.’ Id. at 6. We note that, though not in terms of ‘abstract idea’ but rather adequacy of definition, years ago the Supreme Court outlawed such broad ‘ends’ or function claiming as inconsistent with the purposes of the Patent Statute.3 [See Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. v. Walker, 329 U.S. 1 (1946).] Congress, however, a few years later softened the rule. Patentees could write claim language to broadly describe the purpose or function of their invention, and when they did the claim would not cover the bare function or goal, however performed, but only as limited to the particular means (and equivalents) for implementing that function or goal as described by the patentee in the patent’s “specification.”

    A little bit of everyone’s favorite topics strewn in (except “best mode”, nobody like him).

    Note THIS:
    In other words, this claim entails an unconventional technological solution (enhancing data in a distributed fashion) to a technological problem (massive record flows which previously required massive databases). The solution requires arguably generic components, including network devices and “gatherers” which “gather” information. However, the claim’s enhancing limitation necessarily requires that these generic components operate in an unconventional manner to achieve an improvement in computer functionality.

    Is only because the broadly drafted claims were narrowed by claim interpretation to include the important limitation of enhancement which, in turn, relies on the system’s distributed architecture.

      1. 3.1.1

        1. A computer program product embodied on a computer readable storage medium for processing network accounting information comprising:

        computer code for receiving from a first source a first network accounting record;

        computer code for correlating the first network accounting record with accounting information available from a second source; and

        computer code for using the accounting information with which the first network accounting record is correlated to enhance the first network accounting record.

        Try to wrap your head around the fact that this panel has somehow managed to read into the bolded phrase, as it appears in claim to a “computer program” (!), enough “unconventional” hardware to put this incredible pile of junk into the realm of the patent eligible.

        Everybody following along? Some “code” (that isn’t disclosed in the application) for “enhancing” an “accounting record” with “information” is eligible because — although you’d never know it from the claim — the “enhancement” requires some “unconventional” “architecture.” How do we know that? Why, the patentees told us so! And they’d never ever pretend to be born yesterday just to get a patent and sell it to some b0ttom-feederz so they can file a bunch of lawsuits in East Texas or wherever. Nope. You can trust them. Why, look at how clear they were when it came to writing their claims!


          the network usage records are processed close to their sources before being transmitted to a centralized manager.”

          Because prior to these geniuses nobody ever told someone near an information source to process the information before sending it to a manager. Nope!

          Oh but wait! “Accounting records.” That changes everything.


          MM, apparently the district court and the Federal Circuit previously strew these claims and read into the enhancement limitation all that functionality and structure from the specification.

          The dissent objected that the claim construction made no sense in context because the claim at issue, at least claim one in the one patent being discussed, only called for enhancing the record with information from two different sources. The details of balancing network loads is not required to achieve this function, nor was it clear how updating a particular record from two different sources achieved that allegedly novel function of network balancing.

          My personal objection is generally related to functional claims in that I think they are inherently indefinite. I know that we can read into the claim all sorts of functions and structure from the specification to make them less broad to solve the “Morris” problem. But that does not solve the problem identified by Halliburton which is the “apparent” breath of such claims. Such claims not only are indefinite because one normally cannot tell exactly what the corresponding structure and function is from reading the claim itself, but they intimidate by their simple breath. Thus every practitioner will continue to seek such broadly worded claims that are in fact narrow because of this intimidation factor. This is wrong, morally wrong, and we all know that it is.

    1. 3.2

      That is not quite an accurate historical reflection, as I have pointed out, the “relaxation” was NOT limited to what is now 112(f).

    2. 3.3

      I agree that the majority rested it holding eligibility on the construction of “enhance:”

      In Amdocs I, we construed “enhance” as being dependent upon the invention’s distributed architecture. 761 F.3d at 1338–40 (quoting ’065 patent at 7:51–57, 10:45–50, 7:7–8). We construed “enhance” as meaning “to apply a number of field enhancements in a distributed fashion.” Id. at 1340. We took care to note how the district court explained
      that “[i]n this context, ‘distributed’ means that the network usage records are processed close to their sources before being transmitted to a centralized manager.” Id. at 1338. And we specifically approved of the district court’s “reading the ‘in a distributed fashion’ and the ‘close to the source’ of network information requirements into the term ‘enhance.’” Id. at 1340.

      The dissent was not so generous.

      The majority also relies on the specification to import innovative limitations into the claims at issue. For each of the four patents at issue, the majority’s eligibility determination rests on the use of a “distribution architecture.” As explained below, however, this limitation is insufficient to satisfy Alice step two. Indeed, that limitation does not exist in all of the claims at issue. This contravenes the fundamental principal that the section 101 inquiry is about whether the claims are directed to a
      patent-eligible invention, not whether the specification is so directed.

      From fn. 3

      When considering whether a claim is directed to an abstract idea or is limited to a means of achieving an underlying abstract goal, we necessarily take into consideration whether the claim includes means-plus-function limitations.

      If I were to examine only the written description of the asserted patents, I would conclude that the network monitoring system disclosed therein is eligible for patenting. The specifications disclose a distributed system architecture comprising special-purpose components configured to cooperate with one another according to defined protocols in a user-configurable manner for the purpose of deriving useful accounting records in a more scalable and efficient manner than previously possible. The disclosed system improves upon prior art systems by
      creating a specific “distributed filtering and aggregation system . . . [that] eliminates capacity bottlenecks” through distributed processing. ’984 patent at col. 6 ll. 45–50. The disclosed system is patent eligible.”

      But the inquiry is not whether the specifications disclose a patent-eligible system, but whether the claims are directed to a patent ineligible concept.

      Amdocs argues that the “enhance” step provides an
      inventive concept because the district court’s construction of the term “enhance” requires applying zero or more functions “in a distributed fashion.” Br. of Appellant at 59. Amdocs thus renews its argument from the trial proceedings that “the asserted claims are patentable, in part, due to the manner in which the claims facilitate the generation of network accounting records—i.e., ‘in a distributed fashion.’” J.A. 1567 (emphasis original).

      But the “distributed fashion” limitation cannot provide an inventive concept because it has no meaning in the context of claim 1. Claim 1 only requires adding a single piece of information to an accounting record, and it is unclear what doing this “in a distributed fashion” could mean. Moreover, claim 1 recites no components or structure over which the work might be “distributed.”

    3. 3.4

      2016 — the year the CAFC encouraged the s0ftiew0ftie cr0wd to pretend that carrying out logic here was tooooooootally different from carrying out logic there.

      There is no distinction in a distributed object architectures between clients and servers. Each distributable entity is an object that provides services to other objects and receives services from other objects.

      Pretty sure the ancient Greeks were well aware of this concept. But everythings new and shiny again at the CAFC! There’s nothing so wonderful and magical as pretending that we were all born yesterday, especially if it keeps a certain class of patent attorneys rolling in the gravy.

      The best part: listening to these patent attorneys crow about how all “clear” these CAFC decisions are. Whereas Alice was just unpossible to understand! LOL The farce continues.

      1. 3.4.1

        What this invention is to simply like a relational database having a plurality tables interrelated by links. A query generates a result drawing information from the various tables according to the links.

        Instead of placing the tables on one computer, the tables are spread among various computers in a network. But the result here is the same and the process quite known.

  2. 2


    An application pending for 4+ years is likely to involve substantial after-final practice (RCEs, appeals, etc.) that substantially slows down final resolution.

    might only be partially true. I can see this for those going to the “deck” of appeals, but not see this for those going to the “decks” of RCE’s (or continuations). The latter group should be much quicker to reach a final decision, having the bulk of the work already completed.

      1. 2.1.1

        What do the parents of RCEs count as – or are you not treating RCEs as their own “beings” (as does the Office)…?

  3. 1

    Rather debunks the notion of an “explosion” in rubber stamping patents “Accept Accept Accept,” seeing as we as of yet have not returned to the historical average of 70%…

    1. 1.1

      Anon, you cannot tell that from this table if “abandoned” includes what the PTO calls abandoned that is are actually not. That is, abandonments where claims to essentially the same invention are still in prosecution or issued in divisionals, continuations or RCEs.

      1. 1.1.1

        I thought the USPTO counts RCEs as a live application (i.e., not abandoned).

        I agree with your sentiment with regard to the continuations. I agree but less so with the divisions, as they are supposed to be to a different invention, but restriction requirements are a joke sometimes.


            So my statement still applies (apples to apples), as the historical 70% I reference does not do that same “deep dive” either.

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