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Business Methods Still Experiencing Substantial Growth - Report of Fiscal year 2001 Statistics

By Wynn Coggins

The public attention to the operations of the United Sates Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the areas that examine patent applications related to business methods continues to be strong as we begin new fiscal year 2002. Application filings in business method-related arts (Class 705) continue to be substantial, and hiring and staffing levels have increased in workgroup 2160, the workgroup that handles business method-related applications, to meet examination resource needs in these areas.

Today, 82 examiners work in workgroup 2160. This is an increase of 47 examiners since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2000. To achieve this increase, an examiner work assignment program was initiated that brought 36 experienced examiners from other areas of the USPTO that had an interest and the necessary backgrounds in the business method area. Additionally, new hires from outside the Agency have also been brought on board to examine business method-related applications. The majority of the examiners in Class 705 have data processing and computer education or experience. Other educational and business industry work experience includes the fields of Banking, Securities, Business Development, Marketing Analysis, Real Estate Analysis, Business Consulting, Management, Sales, Insurance, Business Information Systems, and Financial Analysis. Additionally, 30 examiners have advanced or multiple degrees, 12 have law degrees, 7 have Ph.D. and 21 have their Masters Degree (including 6 examiners with an MBA). Thus, the knowledge base of the examiners working in Class 705 is exceptional.

Fiscal Year 2001 Statistics

We anticipate about 10,000 application filings in Class 705 for Fiscal Year 2001. This can be compared to the approximately 7800 application filings we received in Class 705 in Fiscal Year 2000.

We issued approximately 433 patents in Class 705 Fiscal Year 2001. This can be compared to the approximately 899 patents we issued in Class 705 in Fiscal year 2000. We had an allowance rate of 45% (excluding IPERs) for workgroup 2160 in Fiscal Year 2001.

The average pendency to first action in Class 705 is 23.5 months. This can be compared to an average pendency to first action of 14.6 months for the entire USPTO.

The average time to disposal is 28.5 months in Class 705. This can be compared to an average time to disposal of 25.6 months for the entire USPTO.

Both the average pendency and average time to disposal are data for the quarter ending 9-30-01 and include design patents.

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