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Monday Feb 14, 2011

January Patents Dashboard Changes and COPA

Special Guest Blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll


The USPTO Data Visualization Center – otherwise known as “The Dashboard”—continues to be positively received by our stakeholders.  Just recently, I received feedback from stakeholders I met with at the ABA-IPL Mid-Winter Leadership Conference and the AIPLA Mid-Winter Institute who told me that they appreciate the transparency the dashboard provides.   In the interest of further transparency, we have just added first action and traditional total pendency data by technology center to the dashboard. 


We’re pleased to report the total backlog of applications awaiting first office action by examiners decreased this month to 718,857 from last month’s 721,831.  We are already making a dent in the backlog as shown by the decline of traditional first action pendency to an average of 24.2 months for January from 24.6 months in December.  In addition, traditional total pendency also decreased from 34.9 months in December to 34.5 months in January.  To date, the USPTO has received 160,962 applications versus 149,438 over the same time last year. Filings continue a strong upward trend with 11,542 more applications received so far this year compared to  this time last year.   We anticipate this trend to continue as the economy makes a slow growth toward full recovery.  The USPTO is working hard to do our part to help the recovery and to be fully prepared for the future.


The USPTO must work at the highest level of efficiency to achieve our goal of 10 months to first action pendency by 2014.  As we looked for strategies to meet this goal, we analyzed our application distribution in relationship to our available resources.  We found a high variability in workload volume as compared to resources in a few technology areas; and we found an unacceptable number of old cases still awaiting examination in our backlog.  One step we are taking is to eliminate the backlog of applications through an initiative known as “Clearing the Oldest Patent Applications” (COPA).  Through this initiative, we are carefully looking at our old case backlogs, and rebalancing workloads by sharing resources both within and across Technology Centers.   


In an effort to be more transparent, we have added a new measure to the dashboard to help track the COPA initiative.   For this fiscal year, our preliminary numbers indicate that we have completed first office actions in many COPA backlog applications.  We are currently focusing on reducing first action pendency in order to achieve overall pendency and backlog goals, and recent results have already reflected this focus.  While these results have reflected our focus on pendency reduction it should be noted that initially the COPA initiative is expected to temporarily increase first action pendency due to the examiner’s focus being on the oldest applications.  However, this is expected to be a temporary increase and then first action pendency will decrease as we continue to reduce the number of older applications in our backlog.


Thanks, as always, for your support and I look forward to your feedback.


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