USPTO Grants

Woops – The original post had a big error on the chart – I’ve replaced the chart with one that is accurate.

What is happening here – Although the PTO was set to continue its trend from 2019, COVID-19 has stalled everything.  Patent examination is going slower, and patent applicants are also delaying prosecution.  That said, although 2020 will not be an all-time-high, it is likely to be in the top-5 years in terms of number of patents issued.

24 thoughts on “USPTO Grants

  1. 4

    The most important to the USA is the number of patent applications filed without foreign priority and the number of patent applications filed from people resident in the USA.

    Those numbers have been dropping and are the best indicator of the health of the US patent system. The overall numbers have not fallen because of Chinese filing so many patent application in the USA.

    1. 4.1

      Note my ‘tip of the hat’ to this point of yours at post 1.1.

      I would also amend your point (a little) and also remove from consideration large transnationals that are only putatively “US,” but that have NO beholding to the US Sovereign and would instead rather see the strong US patent right be ‘HARMonized.’

      Let’s see a trend of those (true) stakeholders that want – and value – strong US patent rights.

      1. 4.1.1

        The measure that is probably indicates the health of the innovation engine in the USA the best is the number of patents applications where the inventors reside in the USA.

        As a secondary number, I would look at which corporations own the rights to the patents in the above.


          I can agree to disagree here — I see your point, and one could make some good analysis without going that extra step to what I want for the data granularity.

          I just think that with my call for data granularity, the games of the well-established (and more typically trans-nationals) will be much more on display. If we go to the lengths to satisfy what you want to see, why not go that small extra step to show what I want to see?


              Mine are just as objective.

              While inventors as real persons have that ‘first ownership of inchoate rights’ (that are being attempted to be turned into full legal rights) – See Stanford v Roche – there are plenty of objective indicators as to who many be the assignee, under duty to assign, and applicant.

              Perfect obtainment of information, or lack thereof, should not be confused with objectivity.


                You are right that assignment is dicey as some corporations play hide the pea games.

                Also, I mean the subjectivity of how you would classify the corporations.

                1. Meh, the classification of corporations need not be ‘subjective’ at all.

                  Tie it directly to the purpose of the measurement: is the corporation a transnational that operates to the effect that the entity lacks an effective “tie” to the welfare of the US Sovereign (in a comparison of juristic person to real person manner). A real person simple has real ties to the goals of the US Sovereign. That is the bell weather mark.

  2. 3

    I’m curious about this : “Patent examination is going slower”
    Internally the word is hours are up and so is production.
    Filings are supposedly up too but not as much as projected.

  3. 2

    . . . but then again . . . when is a grant not a grant?

    Why; when the unconstitutional PTAB takes it away, of course.

    Why; when a District Court takes it away, of course.

    Why; when the CAFC takes it away, of course.

    Why; when SCOTUS takes it away, of course.

    1. 2.1

      …for that matter, when a CONSTITUTIONAL PTAB takes it away.

      or do you disagree?

      (I think the problem you want to point out is not all that clear)

      1. 2.1.1

        I do agree anon. I add the “unconstitutional” adjective for the reminder that folks are losing their patents not just to the PTAB, but to an UNCONSTITUTIONAL PTAB.


          Your message gets a little muddled as the rest of your post shows the ‘constitutional’ factor is simply not that important to the overall point you are providing (fully constitutionally valid forums are ALSO eviscerating the property right of a granted patent).

  4. 1

    I’m more interested in seeing how many applications are filed, since patent filings are more temporally aligned with innovation, industry, and confidence in IP value. Unfortunately, we won’t know the numbers for another 18 months (at least–although I don’t know why the USPTO can’t divulge how many are filed before they publish). Filings have been slowing down for a few years now, and it would be interesting to see how COVID-19 affects that.

    1. 1.1

      Even then, that “published” number is not a true indicator.

      There is an unknown number of applications filed (very adroitly) under the ‘no publication request’ route.

      And these tend to be either the more highly critically focused US Sovereign effect ones.

      The reason why the US can not divulge is because the (traditional) Quid Pro Quo is an exchange of the GRANT for publication, and prior to that exchange, the power of control was meant to stay with the applicant and not ‘the public.’

      And I might as well help Night Writer along by noting that foreign filings have been making up an ever increasing trend of US filings.

      One of the effects that should be noted in conversations subsequent is that the data should be segregated into various ‘players.’ I would then add to the (forthcoming) comments from Night Writer and note that even the ‘in name’ US ‘designation’ should be further broken down into ‘true’ US firms and large multinational firms that are only putatively “US,” but would rather seek transnational profit levers than be aligned with actual ‘promotion’ of the US Sovereign. And yes, this designation ‘tags’ many of the Big Pharma organizations.

      1. 1.1.1

        Still doesn’t answer the question about why the USPTO can’t publish application numbers closer to real time.


          … because “publish” is NOT a given part of the Quid Pro Quo.

          But maybe you mean only for those for which the Office is ‘permitted’ to obtain its Quo before it delivers its part of the bargain and give out its Quid.

          You do realize that ‘just because one can’ does not mean that ‘one should’ right?

          The spirit of publishing at all is tied to the notion that publishing is ‘ok’ in part because other Sovereigns may have made it so – within their sovereign – and IF one is obtaining protection there, then that person is willing to accept a different bargain.

          The US bargain though SHOULD BE held to the same higher standard absent that aspect.


            Um.. I’m not suggesting anyone publish applications that have a non – publication request. I’m suggesting publishing statistics on filing. Public knowledge of the mere existence of an application does not constitute public knowledge of its contents. That said, your arguments are incomprehensible to me. Plain language is always best, and when you’re boggling someone presumably within your own field of expertise, the problem lies with you, not your listener.


              Stats “on filing” impinge on the Quid Pro Quo of what has been filed.

              Everything about the item filed is outside of the public’s “business” (for those filed with the non-publication request) — and this is based on an understanding of the fundamental nature of the Quid Pro Quo.

              gnd, I do not think that you understand the basics of the patent realm.


                I think you’re deflecting. You fail to answer why. I know that’s what 35 USC 122 can be interpreted to say. But that doesn’t answer why it is interpreted this way, and even if it was the intent that not even the existence of an application (even as a statistic) can be made public, why that is the case. “Quid pro quo” is not a magic phrase that makes everything clear.

                Anon, I’ve had a successful career in patent prosecution for a while now, and I’ve been on a handful of litigation teams. I’ve made a point to make sure to be aware of and provide comment on legislative and USPTO activities. I think I get the basics of the patent realm. Now, if you’re aware of a judicial decision that has set your interpretation of 35 USC 122 in stone, maybe you can share it with me. I admit that I don’t have the inclination to look because this is a matter of curiosity to me, not necessity.

                1. Not deflecting at all. I have already answered why: it is not a part of the Quid Pro Quo bargain.

                  Everything about the filing (including that there IS a filing) is not publicized as the very existence is under the control of the applicant until grant (I am talking of the nature of the Quid Pro Quo with the nonpublication request, which reflects the true nature of the deal).

                  Even after a notice of allowance, an applicant may expressly abandon an application and remove ALL references and history to the work of the applicant – make it as if the applicant’s inchoate right/work never existed at all.

                  The why of this is because of what I have told you from the start: that has been the bedrock foundation of the US Sovereign’s Quid Pro Quo.

                  Other Sovereign’s have chosen differently. That is their right. But our Sovereign, and the ‘great experiment’ of patent law in this country has ALWAYS been different.

                2. I am reminded of the way it was at the UK Patent Office up to 1978, when there was no A-publication of the application as filed. Instead, the allowed patent application was the first publication. But that did not prevent the UK PTO from publishing each week a list of all patent applications filed the week before. in that list, you got an application number and date, an Applicant Name, and a title, nothing more than that.

                  The consequence was that a high proportion of the patent applications filed by ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) had the same title: Chemical Compound.

                  So it is not inconceivable to have up to date stats of applications filed, even while there is no PTO publication of the content of those patent applications till after issue.

                3. MaxDrei,

                  It would be a tremendous benefit if you remembered to take a moment and respect the Sovereign that you are making comments about before you venture out your untethered “not inconceivables” (the US and the U.K. simply do not have the same Quid Pro Quo)

    2. 1.2


      I agree. Not only that the number that is most important to the USA is the number of patent applications filed without foreign priority and the number of patent applications filed from people resident in the USA.

      Those numbers have been dropping and are the best indicator of the health of the US patent system.

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