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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Monday Mar 05, 2012

January Patents Dashboard Review

Guest blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino

The Patents Dashboard for the month of January has been released and is posted on our website and I am pleased to report on our status.

First Office Action Pendency continued to decrease from an average of 23.6 months in December to 22.8 months in January. Additionally, the Unexamined Patent Application Backlog decreased from 662,457 to 657,378 over the same period. These trends appear to be partly the result of success through our continuing Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications (COPA) initiative, which was implemented in fiscal year 2011.

Our success at reducing the backlog of oldest cases did contribute to a minimal increase in Traditional Total Pendency, from an average of 33.8 months in December to 33.9 months in January, but we expect this to be temporary. 

At the same time, our focus on high-quality patent examination continues to show positive results. The Quality Composite Score, which is composed of seven individual metrics all shown on the Dashboard, has increased from 35.2 in December to 43.9 in January.

Furthermore, FY 2012 cumulative Actions per Disposal through January were 2.53. This rate is slightly higher than the FY 2011 rate (2.51), but remains under the high of 2.91 for FY 2008. The cumulative fiscal year Utility, Plant, and Reissue (UPR) Allowance Rate in January was 49%, a 3.8% increase from this time last year. This increase is promising considering the efforts we have taken to further encourage cooperation between patent examiners and applicants on compact prosecution and early issue resolution.

This month, I would also like to highlight the Forward-Looking First Action Pendency metric. This metric is an estimate of the average number of months it would take, for an application filed at a given date, to receive a first office action under current and projected workloads. In January, the estimate was 17.1 months, which is a decrease from 17.5 months in December. This positive trend reflects a combination of efforts at all levels of the organization, and we hope see it continue. Applicants and practitioners can use this metric to get an idea of when they can expect a first office action to be issued if they file a case at that given time. This number is considerably lower than our current First Action Pendency and is good gauge of where we are going in the future.

I am very proud of the progress we are making towards our Strategic Plan goals to reduce patent pendency and the backlog of unexamined patent applications. I look forward to sharing more of our success in the future and, as always, welcome your comments.

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