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USPTO Update September 2012

In an effort to continue to keep you updated regarding patent related developments in the US, we thought you might be interested in some new statistics issued by the USPTO. These statistics show the current state of prosecution before the USPTO. Some of the more interesting statistics include the following:

· First Action Pendency of 22.6 months

This is the average number of months from the patent application filing date to the date a First Office Action is mailed by the USPTO. This means, on average, it will take almost two years for an application to be examined after it is initially filed. The USPTO goal is to reduce this number to an average of 10 months by 2015.

· Forward Looking First Action Pendency of 15.8 months

This is an estimate of the number of months it would take an application filed today to receive a First Office Action. On average, then, applications filed today are being examined more quickly than previously filed applications.

 · Traditional Total Pendency of 33.5 months

This is the measure of total pendency, as traditionally measured from the application filing date to a final disposition (e.g., issued as a patent or abandoned). The traditional total pendency treats an RCE as a final disposition, and stops the pendency clock for that application at that point. This is consistent with our typical estimates that US patent applications remain pending for an average of about 3 years. The USPTO goal is to reduce this number to 20 months by 2015. 

· Total Pendency With RCEs of 40.0 months

This is the average number of months from the application filing date to the ultimate disposition of the application, irrespective of any intermediate abandonments due to a RCE filing. This is consistent with our typical estimates that US patent applications remain pending for an average of about 3 years.

· Pendency of Applications Which Include at Least One RCE of 62.3 months

This is the average number of months from the application filing date to the ultimate disposition for only those applications for which one or more RCE was filed. This does not include applications which reach disposal without an RCE ever being filed.

· Pendency From Application Filing to Board Decision of 85.5 months

This is the average number of months it takes to receive a decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), measured from the application filing date to the BPAI decision date. This measure only includes applications that have been appealed to and decided by the BPAI. In our opinion, submitting Appeals to the Board still remains a very viable option, especially because many appealed applications are resolved before receiving a full Board decision.

· Pendency from RCE Filing to Next Office Action of 5.5 months

This is the average number of months from the filing of an RCE to the mailing of the next Office Action. In our experience, though, this number varies greatly from application to application.

· Pendency of Continuation Applications of 76.5 months

This is the average pendency in months of applications filed as continuations of a parent application, measured from the filing date of the parent application. If the continuation is one in a chain of continuations, the pendency is measured from the earliest filing date in the chain of applications. This only measures continuation applications and not divisional, CIP, or RCE applications.

· Pendency of Divisional Applications of 79.0 months

This is the average pendency in months of applications filed as divisionals of a parent application, measured from the filing date of the parent application. If the divisional is one in a chain of continuations, the pendency is measured from the earliest filing date in the chain of applications.

· Unexamined Patent Application Backlog of 632,981 applications

This is the number of new utility, plant, and reissue patent applications which are awaiting a first Office Action by a patent examiner. Continuing and RCE applications are included in the total. This is a substantial drop from the backlog that existed at the time Director Kappos joined the USPTO.

· RCE Backlog of 92,045 applications

This is the number of patent applications which are awaiting an initial action after a RCE has been filed.

· 7,280 Patent Examiners on Staff

This is the number of patent examiners at the USPTO, not including design patent examiners. The USPTO is continuing their efforts to increase this number.

· Patent Application Allowance Rate of 50.4%, with RCEs

The allowance rate is calculated by dividing the number of applications allowed by the number of applications disposed. The allowance rate including RCEs includes the abandonment for the filing of a RCE in the disposals. This is the traditional way the allowance rate has been reported.

· Patent Application Allowance Rate of 67.2%, without RCEs

The allowance rate is calculated by dividing the number of applications allowed by the number of applications disposed. The allowance rate without RCEs does not include the abandonment for the filing of a RCE in the disposals.

We remain available at your convenience to discuss how you may wish to revise or update your patent estate and/or future patent strategies based on how applications are currently being handled by the USPTO. If you have any questions, or if there is any way we might be of assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Washington, D.C. Area Office
112 S. West St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703) 548-6284

New Jersey Office
103 Carnegie Center, Suite 300
Princeton, NJ 08540
Tel: (609) 955-3458

Email: ip@nathlaw.com

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