Patent Grants Per Year

FY2019 is over and the numbers are out.  The USPTO has issued 336,886 utility patents during the fiscal year. This is a big increase over both FY2018 (306,912) and FY2017 (315,367).

My take: The change here is substantially due to Dir. Iancu, including (but not limited to) his push on limiting the scope of examiner eligibility analysis.  The chart below superimposes images of the USPTO Director at around their start-date.  If you recall, Jon Dudas was known for limiting patent grants (“second pair of eyes review”); David Kappos opened the door with collaborative patenting (“right-sized patents”); Michelle Lee turned things back down with a focus on “patent quality”; and  finally, Andrei Iancu ‘We will not continue down the same path.’

From today’s obvious patents comes U.S. Patent 10,425,977:

1. A wi-fi connection method for a mobile terminal, comprising:

obtaining wi-fi hotspots near the mobile terminal;

obtaining a data list and location information of the wi-fi hotspots;

sending the data list and the location information to a server;

analyzing, via the server, the data list and the location information to obtain password information of an available wi-fi hotspot, and sending the password information of the available wi-fi hotspot to the mobile terminal; and

connecting, at the mobile terminal, the available wi-fi hotspot based on the password information.

46 thoughts on “Patent Grants Per Year

  1. 9

    Of course, David Stein below does what is supposed to be done in comparing the elements to the prior art and then questioning whether it would be obvious to combine or add the difference to a person skilled in the art.

    Of course, the little wan kies at the CAFC have completely abandoned this approach to going back in their office and imagining that they could have done this if only they had bothered to care. They then put away their mechanical pleasure devices in the case of the women or clean up with a warm towel in the case of the men and go into write an opinion about how obvious the whole thing is because they feel it.

  2. 8

    The tragedy is that independent inventors have abandoned the patent system. Between SAWS, PTAB, and endless litigation, obtaining exclusive rights to “pioneering” inventions has become virtually impossible.

    Instead the large corporations are filing bogus patents on routine engineering, creating patent thickets, and stifling innovation. These corporations have patent quotas and they just keep filing and bullying the examiners until they give them enough patents to meet their quota. Then they sell them to patent trolls.

    The patent industry has no concept of invention. Patents are just monopolies for a fee to create a barriers to upstart competitors with better products.

    The system has been completely flipped upside down.

    Where are the inventions? Where is the progress in useful arts?

    1. 8.1

      The “flipping” that you refer to, Josh, occurred decades ago, right around the time that the PTO began granting reams of patents on information and logic without any meaningful examination and with zero attempt to create a coherent framework/system for evaluating such abstractions against the prior art.

      1. 8.1.1

        MM>>with zero attempt to create a coherent framework/system for evaluating [such useful inventions on processing information]

        With that you and I can agree. And–if you bother to read about this and discuss it with real academics (not the lowly unethical like Lem ley) you will find that it is because of Benson.

        What happened is that the PTO never did the work as they thought that they would get out of having to examine all information processing patent applications. It hasn’t changed.

        1. 8.1.1.1

          And who benefitted most from that ongoing disgusting mistake?

    2. 8.2

      “Where are the inventions? Where is the progress in useful arts?”

      Brosef my art is a booooomin’ idk about yours.

      1. 8.2.1

        Like what?

        1. 8.2.1.1

          All kind of electrical doohickeys.

    3. 8.3

      Unfortunately, I kind of agree with you Josh. Basically, you have it right.

      1. 8.3.1

        “The patent industry has no concept of invention. ”

        You agree with this critique, but then you resist any attempt to actually introduce a concept of invention into 101 analysis?

        1. 8.3.1.1

          Is it Congress trying to rewrite the law to insert that concept of “invention”…?

          Or is this a Flash of something else?

  3. 7

    > From today’s obvious patents comes U.S. Patent 10,425,977:

    > 1. A wi-fi connection method for a mobile terminal, comprising:

    > obtaining a data list and location information of the wi-fi hotspots; …

    Looking at the spec:

    > the location information, i.e. the longitude and latitude information.

    Is that obvious? Really? I don’t believe that that’s done today.

    Imagine you have a WPA-protected WiFi network in a specific location – at work, at home, etc. Let’s call it CrouchNet.

    Your phone is configured to connect to CrouchNet automatically and to try to authenticate.

    Now imagine someone engaging in a man-in-the-middle attack targeting your device by pretending to be CrouchNet. If your network is really unsecure, maybe they just create a WiFi network called CrouchNet and hope that your device automatically connects to it. Or maybe they record some of its SSID broadcasts, including whatever encryption it uses, and replay them when your device is nearby to lure your device into connecting to CrouchNet. Etc.

    Most mobile devices will try to connect to “known” networks. In the worst-case scenario, the attack succeeds and your device will send ordinary traffic over Fake CrouchNet. Even if the traffic is usually encrypted, such as via TLS or certificate, the attacker can glean a lot of valuable information about which sites the device is trying to contact. Even in a less-bad scenario where the spoofed network and the device don’t fully connect, the attacker can still learn potentially valuable information: your MAC address, your device type… maybe even your location, if it can triangulate (beamforming has come a long way).

    So what could be done? Well, consider this.

    CrouchNet only exists in one particular location – within a range of your home or office, for instance. It would be weird for your device to see CrouchNet when you’re somewhere else, but most mobile devices don’t know that because they have no concept of *where* CrouchNet should and should not be visible. Conversely, an attacker who’s targeting you might set up the fake network somewhere outside of the range of CrouchNet WiFi where they suspect you’re going to be – the local cafe, the airport, whatever.

    So maybe one way to improve security is to restrict the connectivity (automatic or even manual) between your device and CrouchNet WiFi to the specific location where CrouchNet WiFi is supposed to exist.

    That seems like a good idea, actually. Yet, I don’t know of any devices that have that specific functionality today.

    1. 7.1

      I can’t tell whether you’re riffing off their disclosure or if you think they actually disclose that.

      1. 7.1.1

        Well, the disclosure is thin – very thin, actually. It doesn’t call out the point of novelty or its technical significance. Those are serious problems.

        But the patent does disclose the parts I quoted above. And at the very least, one of ordinary skill in the art – in this case, people who are even casually familiar with WiFi – should be able to spot the claim element that’s out of the ordinary.

        You’re welcome to disagree, but in order to do so, you’ll have to point to some contemporary example of a list that ties together (a) WiFi networks, (b) login credentials, and (c) most interestingly, physical locations of those networks, such as geocoordinates.

        I expect that the field of art is dense, so I wouldn’t be even remotely surprised if *somebody* isn’t doing just that. My point is simply that it is not the de-facto “obviously obvious” patent as OP suggests.

        1. 7.1.1.1

          Your point would be stronger if it was made without reading the specification into the claim.

          I’m guessing that because you say “the patent does disclose the parts I quoted”, you’re aware that much of what you discuss isn’t in their disclosure (They don’t appear to contemplate location based authentication at all.). I don’t really see how inventing material beyond their disclosure helps support your point.

          (I’m not saying the claim is obvious by the way.)

          1. 7.1.1.1.1

            > Your point would be stronger if it was made without reading the specification into the claim.

            Your question, specifically, was: “I can’t tell whether you’re riffing off their disclosure or if you think they actually disclose that.”

            The disclosure is the specification, isn’t it?

            1. 7.1.1.1.1.1

              When I referred to “your point”, I meant the “it is not the de-facto obviously obvious patent” comment rather than your response to my original question. I thought at this point you meant obvious in the specific 103 sense rather than the general sense.

              I’m still unsure whether you think that the disclosure contemplates the location authentication that you were talking about, but at this point I suspect I’ll never get a straight answer. Enjoy your evening.

              1. 7.1.1.1.1.1.1

                > When I referred to “your point”, I meant the “it is not the de-facto obviously obvious patent” comment rather than your response to my original question.

                Hmm – okay. But I did answer that question – like this:

                > I don’t believe that that’s done today.

                > I don’t know of any devices that have that specific functionality today.

                > You’re welcome to disagree, but in order to do so, you’ll have to point to some contemporary example…

                I stand by my statement: I don’t know of any example that uses physical locations, such as geocoordinates, as a factor in whether to connect to a particular WiFi network. (Note that I’m not even limiting this to “physical location WiFi network WiFi password,” which would be anticipation, but just the first half of that relationship.)

                I am certainly open to being proven wrong, and would not even be surprised if I were. But, again… it’s not *obviously* obvious.

                1. An “out of the ordinary” element is not necessarily “inventive”, and that’s especially true when the element is some item of information.

                  You gotta love the invocation of “geo coordinates” though. Deep stuff! LOL

    2. 7.2

      David Stein is a notorious dissembling t0 0l when it comes to defending cr @p “do it on a computer” claims.

      Using logic to drive a car never occurred to the dude. Like when he animated a cartoon mouth, David always used his guts, not his mind. He’s a very serious person!

      1. 7.2.1

        Malcolm,

        You really need to stop looking in the mirror to develop your comments.

        Get out of your mom’s basement and get some fresh air.

    3. 7.3

      Well said, and having worked in this area of tech I fully agree — this claim isn’t obviously obvious. Incidentally, you’ll notice from the amount and depth of text in the follow-on comments (including your own) who actually puts thought into these issues, and who prefers to ad hominem.

      1. 7.3.1

        It’s not just “ad hominem” as that phrase tends to be a catch-all for anything snarky, but it is the rather obvious predispositions as to whether a stand on any issue is one that is against patents/patent holders or for patents/patent holders.

        Often, Ben seems to operate without conscience regard to what he is saying or how he comes across.

        This is one of the factors that ties Ben to being the same Ben that “upvoted” nearly anything Malcolm posted back in the days that this blog experimented with the DISQUS format.

        Ben has not matured or developed his understanding of innovation protection since those days.

        1. 7.3.1.1

          “It’s not just ‘ad hominem’ as that phrase tends to be a catch-all for anything snarky” says the pot.

          1. 7.3.1.1.1

            You quite miss the point that I can deal with BOTH snark and substance.

            You really ought to pay attention, Shifty.

        2. 7.3.1.2

          They’re all laughing at you because you have no response.

          1. 7.3.1.2.1

            That’s not laughter at me that you are hearing, Shifty.

            Did you need that summary of the massive beatdown that you received on the Fee thread again?

    4. 7.4

      Dear David Stein,
      Using a collection of information about something to decide whether that something is “authentic” is not “inventing”. You’re welcome.

  4. 6

    That “use password to connect to Internet” claim looks to be both ineligible and also incredibly obvious. There’s no new technology in the claim. We can all see that.

    So how did it get out of the USPTO?

    1. 6.1

      Are there new Protons, new Neutrons, or new Electrons?

      1. 6.1.1

        This inane silliness is self-derping.

        1. 6.1.1.1

          You are misaiming again.

  5. 5

    The data here is also mere grant numbers — as opposed to taking into account any “aging” effects.

    For example, prior eras of repression (of denying grant to those patents that deserve grant) are known to include a sizable number of applications that are kept alive and fought to be granted through the duration of the repression.

    Any “spike” immediately after a repression end should properly include acknowledgement of this type of “fill in the repressed flat area of the graph.

    This is true of Lee (albeit to a lesser extent) as it was true of the known “Reject Reject Reject” era of Dudas.

    1. 5.1

      “Derp derp patent repression derpity derp so many awesome patents derp held back by the derp dark Luddite forces DERP!”

      1. 5.1.1

        Yay, more Derp Dance from the mindless one.

  6. 4

    If the raw data is public, would you mind linking it? (I’ve done some searching on my own, including the dashboard and various PTO reports, but can’t find this data.) Thanks!

  7. 3

    How many patent examiners are there now? 9,000?

    Is a net of 30,000 more year over year all that much “more?”

    Note that this is not a normative question as to whether or not any particular number of patents “should” be granted and is merely an objective pragmatic processing question.

  8. 2

    The change here is substantially due to Dir. Iancu…

    Whoa there. What “change”? Has there been a change in number of grants?

    It is not clear to me that the increase in the 2019 numbers relative to the 2018 numbers is even statistically significant. This could be signal, but it could just as well be noise. Too soon to say.

    1. 2.1

      Regarding a change: You can see from the stats that more patents were issued in FY2019 than in any prior year in history. “Statistical significance” is only relevant to a discussion where someone is a sample of of the entire population to then make some comment on the population as a whole. The chart here shows the entire population. That said, there are a number of influences on the number of patents that issue each year, many of which cannot be traced to the PTO director.

      1. 2.1.1

        But the number of patent grants doesn’t seem like a useful statistic for investigating the trend of allowance rate, because it’s not normalized to anything.

      2. 2.1.2

        You can see from the stats that more patents were issued in FY2019 than in any prior year in history. “Statistical significance” is only relevant to a discussion where someone is a sample of of the entire population to then make some comment on the population as a whole.

        Does it make sense to say “[t]he change here is substantially due to Dir. Iancu,” when it is not clear that the “change” is anything more than statistical noise? If we see a reproducible upswing over the course of the Iancu tenure, then it might make sense to attribute the upswing to Iancu. Two data points, however, do not make a trend line.

        I gather that you essentially agree, in any event, when you acknowledge that “there are a number of influences on the number of patents that issue each year, many of which cannot be traced to the PTO director.” It is not meaningful, at this point, to assert that “[t]he change here is substantially due to Dir. Iancu.”

  9. 1

    So basically Fraud Iancu decided to ignore the holdings he didn’t like and dumped a ton of ineligible/invalid patents on the public. Let them figure it out in court because coming up with a reasonable and consistent and legal set of rules was just too hard for Fraud Iancu.

    Oh, and there were also those promises he made to his special friends. Gotta keep those Silly Con bros happy!

    1. 1.1

      Are you going to run away again if you are asked if you agree with Director Iancu’s observation that the court cases have resulted in a Gordian Knot of conflicting case law (obviously, my description of his words)….?

      1. 1.1.1

        Skilled attorneys use reasoning and experience to understand “the law” as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

        Hacks, on the other hand, tend to focus on dicta that serves their own interests without trying to make sense of the various decisions.

        Fraud Iancu falls into the latter category. He literally can not discuss eligibility without falling flat on his face because he refuses to address the basic issues (eg, claiming abstractions in prior art contexts) without dissembling.

        1. 1.1.1.1

          By your definition, YOU are the hack here and I am the skilled attorney (of course, with the caveat of knowing when the Supreme Court has misstepped, or OVER stepped and engaged in law writing rather than law interpretations).

          Thank you for finally acknowledging what you have known for years.

          As for Iancu, you prevaricate here and attempt to move the goalposts from what I asked of you: the objective statements of the conflicting case law as written by the courts. As predicted, you have run away from the issue presented to you and attempted to insert your own hobby horse.

          Stay focused, son.

    2. 1.2

      “So basically Fraud Iancu decided to ignore the holdings he didn’t like and dumped a ton of ineligible/invalid patents on the public.”

      I’m not sure that the increase is as much as it would be if that actually happened. Though he made a bit of a change I’m not sure that it actually had the effect you’re thinking happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture