Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Emerging Patent Boom?

Dennis Crouch's Patently O blog recently reported on the record increases in both the number of patent issuing and increases in the allowance rate (i.e., percentage of concluded applications that were allowed). In fact, the last three weeks have seen the highest number of issued patents in any three-week period in U.S.P.T.O. history. In addition, as reported by PriorSmart, there were more patents issued than applications publishedthe first time that has happened. That's a good sign for eventual reduction of the patent office's backlog of pending applications.

This is welcome news to most patent applicants and practitioners. As I've previously written, Director Kappos made it a high priority to change a system and culture that equated higher rejection rates with higher quality patent examination. It appears that Director Kappos' reforms are working.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on how the combination of patent office backlog and high rejection rates costs the U.S. economy at least $6.4 billion a year due to lost investment, economic growth, and potential employment from lack of meaningful protection for new innovations. An increase in patent allowance and issuance could help reduce patent office backlog, increase domestic innovation and investment, and spur economic growth. But if that happens, don't expect the patent system to get much credit from the pundits and politicians.


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