Statistics from the USPTO's Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2008
[Note: for images described herein, please view the PDF version of the Spring 2009 newsletter in which the article originally appeared.]
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued its annual Performance and Accountability Report covering fiscal year 2008. The Report includes some interesting statistics on patents and trademarks.
Over the past twenty years, patent applications filed have increased from 148,183 in 1988 to 495,095 in 2008. The increase has been fairly steady, with only one year with fewer filings than the year prior, as seen below.
The average pendency of all patent applications for which patents issued in 2008 was 32.2 months, up from 27.6 months in 2004, as shown below.
The USPTO also reports patent pendency by technology area. The technology with the longest pendency is communications, with an average first action pendency of 32.5 months and a total average pendency of 43.6 months. The shortest is semiconductor, electrical, optical systems, and components, with an average first action pendency of 19.5 months and a total average pendency of 28.8 months. Other areas of technology have pendency statistics as follows:
Communications: 32.5 to first action, 43.6 total;
Computer Architecture, Software, & Information Security: 30.8 to first action, 42.4 total;
Chemical & Materials Engineering: 27.5 to first action, 36.3 total;
Transportation, Construction, Agriculture, & Electronic Commerce: 24.3 to first action, 34.8 total;
Biotechnology & Organic Chemistry: 19.9 to first action, 34.8 total;
Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, & Products: 24.7 to first action; 32.7 total; and
Semiconductor, Electrical, Optical Systems & Components: 19.5 to first action; 28.2 total.
Just as the number of patent applications filed has increased, the total number of patents issued in fiscal year 2008 also has increased dramatically since 1988. This can be seen in the following chart:
As the number of patent applications filed and patents issued has increased, the number of patent examiners has also increased. The number of patent examiners has increased from 3,753 in 2004; 4,258 in 2005; 4,883 in 2006; 5,477 in 2007; to 6,055 in 2008.
The number of new trademark applications has also increased in the past twenty years, although not quite as steadily as patent applications, as seen below.
The average pendency of trademark applications has decreased over the past five years, as seen below:
As seen in the chart above, the number of trademark registrations issued over the past twenty years has also generally trended upwards.
The number of trademark examining attorneys has changed from 286 in 2004; 357 in 2005; 413 in 2006; 404 in 2007; to 398 in 2008.