Justin R. Muehlmeyer
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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency that protects new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity by granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. While the pandemic caused many things to slow down or come to a halt, new ideas and innovations continued, and many sought to protect those ideas by applying for patents. Let’s review the patent statistics for the fiscal year 2021.
Unexamined inventory represents the number of patent applications (including utility, plant, design, and reissue patent applications) awaiting a First Office Action by a patent examiner. There is a current unexamined patent application inventory of 625,168 applications for the fiscal year 2021. These applications are awaiting a First Office Action.
An Office action is a document created by an examiner in a patent or trademark examination procedure that is then mailed to the applicant. First Office Action pendency represents the average time from the patent application filing date to the date the USPTO mails out a First Office Action. Currently, First Office Action pendency is running an average of 17 months for the fiscal year 2021.
In the fiscal year 2021, the USPTO moved to a new process for assigning applications to examiners. Once an examiner has been assigned to an application, the examination will begin within approximately two months. Currently, the USPTO has 8,147 patent examiners on staff. Given the current backlog of 625,168 unexamined patent applications and an average number of 2.1 examiner actions leading to the final disposition (a finding of allowed, abandoned, or on appeal) of a patent application, the average total pendency for approval of a patent application is currently 22.8 months.
Application production units are how the USPTO measures patent examination work completed by the USPTO. A production unit is the complete examination of a single application. Currently, for the fiscal year 2021, there are 357,317 patent application production units, meaning the assessment of those applications is complete and the examiner has issued a final action.
Amendment turnaround data
If the claims of a patent application are rejected, for example, based on lack of novelty or due to obviousness, the applicant can amend the claims. While amending an application to add new information is prohibited, the application can be amended to combine claims or move descriptions within the original application to clarify or narrow the claim further. Once an amendment has been filed, the examiner will act on the amendment application. Here is a chart that shows the amended application turnaround time OR pending amended inventory by weeks old.
After final response data
After an examiner issues a final rejection, the applicant can respond to that final action. Once their response has been filed, it is currently taking the examiner an average of 19 days to respond to a response from the applicant after final action is displayed. The two most common responses from an examiner at this stage are an advisory action or notice of allowance.
In 2020, there were 399,055 patents granted. It is in your best interest to protect it. Peacock Law can help.