by Dennis Crouch
This post continues from two prior data-posts:
- Crouch, USPTO Allowance Rate, Patently-O (November 2, 2016)
- Crouch, Pending Patent Applications, Patently-O (November 1, 2016)
Adding-in data from the USPTO Chief Economist (Alan Marco), I have updated my chart of the USPTO utility patent grant rate. The chart shows my verson of patent grant rate calculated as the number of patents issued (allowed) divided by the number of disposed-of-applications where the disposed-of-applications includes serialized utility applications either (1) abandoned or (2) issued as patents (allowed) during the given period and does not give any consideration to RCE filing.
In the chart above, you’ll find in allowance rate that I calculated using the USPTO Chief Economist disposal data that stretches back to 1985. Overlaid in blue is my data previously presented. You’ll notice substantial similarity between the data sets during the period of overlap, but some differences. You’ll note that – on average – the rate calculated from my data is greater than that calculated from USPTO data. Although I cannot entirely exclude a counting error, I expect that the differences can be explained primarily by the fact that the USPTO data includes all utility applications while my figures are limited to published applications. Others have shown that non-published applications tend to have a lower allowance rate (these are, for the most part, applicants that have chosen not to file globally and tend to include a higher proportion of software and business method inventions). In addition, I believe that the USPTO counts the patenting as of the allowance date rather than the issue date, which is why I put “allowed” in parenthesis above. A further explanation for the differences that my data relies upon only a sample of around 30,000 published applications rather than the entire population.
In my estimation, the chart fails to reveal any ‘natural’ or steady-state allowance rate. It is also difficult to correlate the allowance rate with particular changes in the law or court decisions. Rather, best guess is that the primary impact on the overall allowance rate stems from USPTO Policy as set by its Director.