USPTO Launches Interactive Model Predicting Average Patent Pendency Timeframes in Relation to Varying Staffing and Filing Levels

December 18, 2009
Press Release 09-33

CONTACT: Peter Pappas or Jennifer Rankin Byrne

(571) 272-8400 or;;

Washington- As part of its ongoing transparency efforts, the Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today established an interactive Patent Pendency Model (PPM) on its Web site. The PPM enables users to see how both first action and overall patent pendency periods are affected by changes in staffing and filing levels. Reducing patent pendency is the USPTO's top priority, and the model enables users to estimate pendency periods using historical data to make calculations and to create graphs of predicted outcomes. The model can be found in the Patent statistics area of the USPTO Web site (

"In our ongoing effort to operate with a high level of transparency, we are launching an interactive Patent Pendency Model so that our stakeholders can fully appreciate the variables that affect the pendency of applications," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. "We are confident that sharing this information with our stakeholders will provide a better understanding of the variables that drive pendency."

The PPM provides forecasts through 2016, allowing the user to make changes to multiple inputs including the number of examiner hires per year, the amount of overtime worked and patent filing levels. For example, the model shows that if the USPTO hired 1000 examiners per year for fiscal years 2010-2012, the patent application backlog could be reduced from the current level of nearly 719,000 to just over 470,000 by the end of fiscal year 2012. Conversely, if the USPTO allowed no overtime and made no examiner hires for the next seven years and filings increased by six percent per year, the backlog would go from 719,000 to approximately 1,651,000 and first action pendency would rise from 25 months to more than 67 months.

The PPM serves as a valuable tool to the agency's effort to reduce pendency and thus create more certainty for the nation's innovators. The chart demonstrates that even with efficiency gains that will be realized through recent changes such as the revised examiner count system, significant hiring will be required to reduce the backlog and shorten patent pendency.