USPTO releases 2006 annual report

December 27, 2006
Post by Blog Staff

Just before Christmas, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released its 2006 annual report. Among the highlights:

  • 332,000 patents were examined, the most ever
  • 54% patent allowance rate, the lowest on record (comment: apparently the USPTO considers granting a lower percentage of patents to be good news)
  • 3.5% patent allowance error rate (comment: this statistic is compiled by the "Office of Patent Quality Review," rather than by using hard statistics like examiner reversals at the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences or patents invalidated via reexamination or litigation. The actual report is not available online, so this figure must apparently be taken on faith.)
  • Average time from filing a patent application to a first office action rose to 22.6 months
  • Over 378,000 trademark applications were examined, the largest number ever, and up 36% over the previous year
  • The USPTO had record filings for both patents and trademarks, with over 440,000 new patent applications filed and over 354,000 new trademark applications filed
  • Roughly one third of patent applications are now filed electronically. Almost all (94%) trademark applications are filed electronically.
More detail is included in the full report, including the number of pending patent and trademark applications (over 700,000 patent, nearly 475,000 trademark), administrative cost per patent ($3,798), and other miscellaneous factoids. One of the concerns is the apparent equating of lower percentages of patent applications issuing as patents to increased patent quality. Hopefully the PTO does not lose sight of the fact that it was created to issue patents (and trademarks) when applications meet the statutory criteria, and not necessarily promulgate examination policies based solely on the desire to reduce the number of issued patents or registered trademarks.

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