Priority Claims in US Applications

by Dennis Crouch

The vast majority of US non-provisional patent applications (utility) claim some form of priority relationship back to a previously filed patent document.

The chart below shows the percentage of applications that assert these various forms of priority claims.  Note that continuation applications have continued to rise while provisional applications show a plateau.  The 35 % for US Provisionals is quite high considering that about half of patent applications come from foreign applicants who typically do not file provisional applications. In these charts I didn’t include foreign national or regional priority claims because I didn’t compile that data yet.

Notes. (1) the population here is limited to only published patent applications, and the data-point is the priority claim as of its publication date. (2) You can see the data here: Link to Google Sheets.

13 thoughts on “Priority Claims in US Applications

  1. 2

    The very wide fluctuation week-to-week in the PCT plot is interesting. Any idea what might be causing that? One would think it should be fairly uniform like the other plots, unless perhaps the publication of national stage applications is being handled differently by the PTO.

  2. 1

    An interesting, albeit arguably only potential, aspect of this data is to confirm the Naysaying of Night Writer of an impending crash to the US Patent system.

    It should be recognized that the level of effort (i.e., client spend) is FAR LESS on Continuations than on new applications.

    If the ‘balance’ is shifting – and it is – and that shift is substantial (I will let the reader decide), then this well may be an indication that spend on new applications is already diminishing greatly – perhaps even beyond a critical point.

    1. 1.2

      Large corporations are starting to use China and India to write patent applications at 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of what US firms can do the work.

      Why? Because you can’t enforce US patents anymore. You can enforce a patent in some EPO countries like Germany and in China more and more. So, the corporations are thinking why pay a US firm when the US rights are not important.

      What I see is that they are still filing but at lower numbers and could easily just cut filing in half in the US. The attitude now is just to cover and have some protection in the US but the US is now treated as a backwater.

      There hasn’t been an epic decline in filings but there has been a significant decline in filings in real numbers and when you factor in other things like the growth of technology and foreign filings, then the decline is signifcant.

      What I think is that there is still a lot of activity but the corporations don’t care too much about it but it is still just a small amount of money. You can see in IBM’s numbers that everyone is cutting back.

      Anyway, hard to tell how it will play out.

      But just consider that Europe doesn’t protect software and has almost no software industry. China, S. Korea, and Japan protect pretty much anything and they are zooming ahead of us.

      The big lie is that the giant SV corporations can take care of this “innovation” thing. They can’t. Without the incentives of patents our technology lead will end.

      1. 1.2.1

        Night, in answer to your lament, two thoughts come to mind.
        First: let’s distinguish between chem/bio and computer-implemented innovation. In the latter, we are these days preoccupied with SEP’s and FRAND. What counts is having a bigger pile of patents than the competitor. Quantity counts. Quality has become irrelevant. No wonder the drafting work goes to the lowest bidder.

        Second thought: Long ago in England there was a TV sit-com set in a carpet salesroom. The salesman’s catch-phrase, on every viewer’s lips for years afterwards, was “Never mind the quality; feel the width”. It’s like that, these days, also in the world of utility patents.


          Those are particularly good comments MaxDrei.

          But I think that the reason that the quality doesn’t matter so much is that they have become unenforceable in the USA.

          But you are right about the FRAND and SEP aspect of this. I do some of that work and they don’t really care about the quality they just want a read on the standard from the cheapest bidder.

      2. 1.2.2


        I think that you are conflating different issues, as the point that I presented had nothing to do with where (or other cost factors of) any application was being written, and had more to do with whether (and what type) of application was being written at all.



            Spouting a truism and then an ad hominem does not change the fact that you are conflating issues.

            Maybe pause and stop to think about what I just wrote: the issue that I presented is simply NOY where or other cost factors, but IS instead whether (AT ALL – no matter what the cost factors MAY BE), and type.

            This is NOT an issue of “me taking myself too seriously.” I am merely pointing you to the actual point presented.

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