We've Already Surpassed Last Year's Patent Totals

from the a-mockery dept

We've already noted early on this year that the USPTO suddenly seemed to be ramping up its patent approval rate this year at an amazingly rapid clip. And now comes the news that we've already passed the number of patents granted last year and are rapidly approaching the highest number of patents approved in a year (we should hit it within a couple weeks)... and then we'll still have two and a half months left. As Patently-O notes:
This dramatic increase in the rate of granting patents is impressive -- especially in light of the fact that during this time, the USPTO eliminated examiner overtime hours for an extended period of time and hired only a handful of new examiners.
In other words, it's exactly what we feared. Under the Kappos' regime at the USPTO, they've decided that the number one problem isn't bad patents, but the time it takes to get a patent. So in order to fix that, it looks like they're basically approving a lot more patents, with a lot less examining. That means, a hell of a lot more bad patents are hitting the market this year. Even if you support the patent system, I can't understand how anyone can not be horrified by this result. Rushing through more patents doesn't help anyone -- except the holders of bad patents. This is dangerous to American innovation -- the one thing that the USPTO is supposed to be helping.

Filed Under: patents, uspto
Companies: uspto


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  1. identicon
    burdlaw, 7 Oct 2010 @ 9:52pm

    Improved efficiency leads to improved issuance rate

    Nowhere is it proven that the PTO is issuing more bad patents. Only proven is that they are successfully attacking the backlog and issuing more patents. There could be a number of reasons for the increased issuance.
    1. The move to Alexandria is complete, so attention is no longer diverted to the move.
    2. The physical setup of the Alexandria location is more efficient.
    3. The Examining Corp has reduced turnover so the corps is getting more experienced and that may lead to efficiency.
    4. The PTO is finally getting up to speed with a decent prior art collection on computer-related inventions so they are not shooting in the dark like they were in the not to distant past.
    5. Applications are now being predominantly filed electronically so the Examiners do not have to mess with paper shuffling. It is much more efficient to call up a file with a few clicks than to order it and wait for weeks. It allows Examiners to now respond to many interview requests on the spot or in very quick fashion. Much more efficient.
    6. Computerized searching has replaced paper searching and is now well entrenched and understood by Examiners. Computerized searching takes a fraction of the time of paper searching, and computerized searching is more accurate since, unlike the paper file, the computer search files are always available and always complete and much more current.
    7. Search of possibly conflicting applications is now electronic and thus more efficient.

    This increased efficiency may well be due to the computerization of the PTO, the move to new more efficient facilities, and the paperless handling of applications and searches.

    Hence, CA and his optimism may be more in touch with reality than catchy slurs, innuendos, and wild speculation. Time will tell whether the affirmance rate goes up or down. KSR and Bilski suggest more cases will be invalidated than before, so if the affirmance rate stays the same or goes up, it will prove all you naysayers wrong.

    As to going to a 1790s registration system, there are good arguments why that might be a good thing if coupled with a quick exam and infringement analysis by the PTO prior to or as part of any patent infringement suit.

    And it came to pass, in the days of the rise of Japan and then China and India as superpowers challenging America that they adopted a system of delayed examination of patents and it resulted in them catching and often surpassing America in various areas of technical innovation. America took the path of making it difficult and expensive to get a patents, so creative enterprises died or moved to the Far East and India where such difficulties do not exist. Without a reward, inventors ceased to invent, the economy stagnated and jobs moved overseas. Oh....that's not really fantasy, it has happened and is continuing to happen. Unless we make patents easier to get, not harder, and easier to enforce, not harder, we will continue to see the rise of contingent litigators as they will be the only ones who can enforce the patent of an individual creative inventor who is being steamrolled by big business such as those in the Coalition for Patent Piracy and its patent deform which appears still headed for another defeat.

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