173 Years of (Almost) Uninterrupted Tuesdays

by Dennis Crouch

At 12:01 a.m., this past Tuesday, the USPTO issued its newest batch of patents.  6549 utility patents; 13 reissues; and 699 design patents.

Back in 1848, the USPTO began its tradition of issuing patents every Tuesday. Over the course of 173 years, more than 9000 Tuesdays have passed and more than 11,000,000 patents issued.  During this time, the Patent Office has missed a handful of Tuesdays.  In the summer of 1945, the office skipped two weeks while the US was in the midst of WWII. It also skipped two weeks in the summer of 1970. I believe that delay was associated with the changeover to electronic databases at the Office and computerized printing.  On point, March 1971, the NYTimes published an article suggesting that the USPTO would pause printing that summer for a 12-week period due to printing cost increases associated “the inauguration of printing by computer.”  The times reported that “or several months it has been impossible to buy copies on the issue date.”  For those weeks, the patents “issued” on time, but were not really available until later.

Between 1850 and 1880, the Office also missed a handful of Tuesday issuances — always during Christmas week. Overall result though is 99.9% on time.

7 thoughts on “173 Years of (Almost) Uninterrupted Tuesdays

  1. 4

    My favorite Confederate patent, well there are two: No. 100 is for the Merrimac’s structure, an ironclad built from a hull of a wooden ship. The other one is the only design patent issued by the Confederate Patent Office for a death mask of Thomas Jonathan Jackson (I will use his real name, not his moniker).

  2. 3

    During the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederacy had a separate Patent Office. IIRC, it existed for several years and issued 100+ patents. I don’t know what day of the week the patents were issued, or if they were somehow integrated into the federal patent system post-war.

    1. 3.1

      I believe almost all of the confederate patent office records were destroyed in a fire prior to Union troops capturing the city.

  3. 2

    During a data audit some time ago, the IT team in a firm for which I had worked noticed a series of “pre-grant” publications with a publication date after the granted patent. They all involved cases that had been accelerated. It appears the quick grant led to grant & publication occurring in the same week. As a result, the grant “publication” (a Tue event) occurred before the application “publication” (a Thur event). This seems like an argument for the USPTO to switch their grant and publication days of the week.

  4. 1

    Re the 2 WWII PTO skipped Tuesdays of patent issuances, I wonder if that was due to what I was told was the movement of the PTO to Arlington VA in WWII?

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