Application Pendency


The chart below shows the pendency timing for issued US patents — looking particularly at the time from priority filing (including foreign priority claims) until issuance of the US patent.  To smooth the chart a bit, I excluded the 0.2% of patents with the longest patent term — these were all > 20 year terms and had the tendency of substantially skewing the picture. The chart below shows the long tail skew for patents issued thus far in 2017.


9 thoughts on “Application Pendency

  1. 4

    I’m not sure why you included foreign priority claims, since the extra 12 months is completely out the USPTO’s control. They can’t do anything until a US application is actually filed, and it just adds a year of “pendency” to every foreign-originated application.

    1. 4.1

      A better approach would be to measure pendency from the starting point for calculating the 20-year patent term under 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(2), i.e. the date on
      which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application or applications under section 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c), from the date on which the earliest such application was filed. In that case, priority under section 119, 365(a), 365(b), 386(a), or 386(b) would be ignored.

  2. 3

    A little analysis might help. I stared at these for a few minutes and I THINK I figure them out, but I’m not sure. In the first one, the pendency axis is vertical, and in the second it is horizontal? Why are there so many dots in the two year spans in the top figure? Looks like too many for months, and not enough for weeks.

  3. 2

    Dennis, what does each dot represent? I know there are many patents (including some I worked on) that had a very short pendency (e.g., < 2 years, some prioritized, others just were in less crowded art units and got a first action fairly quickly) with no priority claim. Is each dot one issued patent and you just ran this for a random small sample of issued patents? or is each dot the average of a larger sample (i.e., a particular art unit)? I am assuming the latter.

    Measuring from the earliest priority claim can be misleading, as some continuation applications go back a very long time. While you excluded patents with the top .2% of patent term, continuation applications wouldn't receive any special PTA so the continuation applications that go back 10+ years are probably skewing the chart.

    It might be interesting to run the chart again without considering priority claims.

    1. 2.1

      In the second graph, there is a dot for each month of potential pendency. You see a dot on 24 (months). The height of that dot represents its relative frequency that an issued patent will have a pendency of between 24 and 25 months. For this type of chart, it usually is only confusing to add numbers on the vertical axis.


          Horizontal axis is the date of patent issuance. Each dot represents average application pendency for all utility patents issued that week (excluding the top 0.2%). Vertical axis shows the number of years pendency: priority filing date to issuance.

          Only about 2/3 of all weeks are included in this chart b/c I still have the data processing running. The trends though are clear.

    2. 2.2

      PA, NOT measuring pendency from the earliest prior date would be be far more misleading. Otherwise it is not measuring true pendency, it is only measuring the pendency from the most recent re-filing date. That is encouraging “submarine” applications [like those of Lemelson and Hyatt] harmful to business and business investment and planning, and rewarding poor PTO docket management – failures to dispose of longer pending applications in favor of working on newer and easier applications.
      Dennis notes “0.2% of patents with the longest patent term — these were all > 20 year terms.” That is really inexcusable – applications pending so many years that they were filed under the old patent term law, and will have patent terms running for 17 more years from AFTER whenever they finally issue. Dave Kappos finally got the PTO to address this, but has the PTO dropped the ball again since?

  4. 1

    I am sure that some sAme ones out there will attempt to blame this pendency ‘stalling’ on software patents…

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