Utility Patents Per Year

The numbers are in for 2020 — slight decrease in the number of patents issued in 2020. This capability was enabled by the PTO’s smooth transition to an almost 100% at-home workforce.

25 thoughts on “Utility Patents Per Year

  1. 2

    So the landmark AIA passes in what 2011? So ‘improving’ the stability and quality of the patent system resulting in a surge of inventorship and utility patent issuance.

    ***** OR ******

    As predicted by public choice theory the system churns out even more ‘bad patents’ to give the new PTAB something to do. Ergo, the purported improvements ushered by the AIA to fix the ‘bad patents’ in practice made everything wrong with the patent system – even more wrong – with even more ‘bad patents’ and lackadaisical examination. Check.

    Mission accomplished PTO, now you have what? Double the work force, less QC (certainly less pressure for QC), expanded *nay* permanent jurisdiction, an Executive veto over issued patents, Executive veto over money judgments and injunctions, broke the 7th Amendment, ordered liberty, the separation of powers, finality and made patent law the abused red headed step child of due process, Constitutional and Administrative law. But you grew, expanded, created headroom, etc. just as public choice theory commands. Was it worth it?

      1. 2.1.1

        As Q. Todd (RIP 2020) was fond of saying: A good patent system is there to help the little guy. I was a fan. And Q. Todd didn’t forget the big picture – the forgotten man. Just look at the new trademark, streaming and copyright laws coming down the pike. The big boys stacking the deck even higher. The inventor/entrepreneur/start-up is getting the shaft. Our Congress is a parliament of whor@s. Isn’t PTAB still, even with the reforms like applying the law to claim construction still having something like an 80% kill ratio? Isn’t that the clearest indication that an Agency that is revoking 80% of it’s work product when challenged is in disfunction? Meh, life goes on. The Republic dies in a 1,000 paper cuts. Anyways, happy new year Anon. Enjoy your banter. Pro tip – don’t trust the FBI or the DOJ. And that is sad. 2021 prediction? Weaponized PTAB and federal trade secret law.


          iwasthere–I agree with all that you wrote.

          Although, I think that the effects of CN need to be put into those numbers. Many of those applications are of CN origin.

          I also see large corporations that are my clients openly talk now about pulling out even more from the US patent system. They want patents in countries where they can get an injunction. Germany and China.


          Weaponized “trade secret law” is exactly right and Biden put Chien in charge of doing what big SV want.

          I think the tech guys are going to be reeling when they find out how trade secret law is going to be used to restrict their job movement and their ability to talk about their work.


            It makes perfect economic sense for the big boys (the natural monopolies and high barrier to entry players) to weaponize the new federal trade secrets act. Indeed, with the TPAB creating the bait and switch patent system of today that provides a huge incentive to silo your trade secrets into tight compartments. As we know, filing for patent under the US best mode requirement, is kryptonite to a subsequent trade secret claim (you published your trade secret, or you should have in exchange for the patent rights), but the PTAB is the switch (yanks your patent and your trade secret is already dead). What I mean by weaponize is the connected boys will be able to get criminal charges and FBI raids done to protect the big boy trade secrets.


              Interesting enough, Night Writer is not the only one that has been sounding warning bells on trade secrets, and your indicator here of “US best mode” reflects but ONE of the changes in the AIA that provided breadcrumbs for the advance of Trade Secrets (at the expense of patents).

              (hint: the sua sponte submarine of “Prior User Rights” which only surface after someone else with a patent seeks to enforce their (willingness to share and get the patent) rights against another (who was NOT willing to share))

              MUCH of this is of course driven by those who would RATHER embrace a Guild Mentality.


            Why hasn’t this already happened, Night? Virtually every application that comes across my desk is a description of the front end, with the entire back end left a mystery. The FANGs are already keeping the juicy details internal while only disclosing the part which cannot be kept a secret. So why haven’t they already tightened the leash on their employees?


              First, I don’t agree that only the front ends are disclosed. The last 10 patents I wrote had at least 4 that focused on the backend processing.

              Second, the current trade secret laws are not strong enough. That is why Chien has already said it is her desire to strengthen the trade secret laws. And why Biden put her in charge to lead IP in the USA.


                “Second, the current trade secret laws are not strong enough.”

                I didnt realize that your bleak future for tech workers relied upon additional TS laws. It sounds a lot more plausible knowing that, thanks.

    1. 2.2

      The big tech agenda is patents for them but not for us. They want patents that are easy to get but difficult to enforce. Independent inventors and small entities are bailing out.

      The modern “public franchise right” patents have no relation to “progress in the useful arts”.

      I understand that toll road franchise are also increasing.

      1. 2.2.1

        Certainly – and just as certain, this is merely reflective of a Rati0nal Person mentality (of those with market power that may be threatened with disruptive innovation).

  2. 1

    End-of-year is a big filing time. I wonder how the 2020 numbers can really be finalized until after 2020 is over.


          The reduced number of issuances for 2020 is then almost certainly a measure of reduced throughput on the PTO side rather than reduced input from filings as a consequence of the pandemic, since very applications have a pendency of 9 months or less.

          I wasn’t aware that examiners were nearly 100% at-home. Any time I talked to examiners at the early part of the pandemic (circa April) I would ask whether they were in the office or not. The only ones who were not were the ones who were hoteling before the pandemic. The others specifically said that there had been no policy change with respect to working at the office. I wonder when the in-office-work policy changed.


              Work at home PTO should be IMHO, more productive, since there is less office distractions and no commute. But then again, there is probably more zoom training on ‘critical race theory’ and other such programing in ‘double think.’


                Federal employees have FFCRA leave opportunities, so one should probably expect fewer hours worked this year.

                I haven’t seen any stats regarding actual productivity so far. If production is down it could as easily be due to the new PAP (“why bother do 110% anymore” is a somewhat common refrain) rather than Covid-19.

                1. …due to the new PAP (“why bother do 110% anymore”…

                  YOUR union — why are you whining (again) about what your union has delivered for you?

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