New Pendency Measures and an Update on Our Green Tech Program
Special Guest Blog by USPTO Commissioner for Patents Bob Stoll
In July, I wrote about RCE filings in response to applicant concerns and discussed in detail the whys and hows of RCE filing. I realized the level of interest in tracking RCEs, so we created a new metric on our Dashboard. The new measure, “Pendency from RCE Filing to Next Office Action” tracks pendency from time of the RCE filing to the mailing of the next office action. We present the metric as an average of all RCE filings. In December, the average time for this metric increased to 2.9 months from 2.6 months in November. We are hoping that this measure provides you with another facet of the patent prosecution system.
Our first quarter numbers look consistent or better than last year at this time. Looking at the traditional first action pendency it has declined again to an average of 24.6 months in December from 24.9 months in November. In addition, traditional total pendency remained unchanged from the previous month at 34.9 months. The USPTO continues to focus on reducing first action pendency in order to achieve overall pendency and backlog goals, and recent results have already reflected this focus.
Our filing numbers show a slight increase over last year, and this supports the larger economic picture of a slowly recovering economy. Preliminary UPR filing data through December shows that 124,056 applications have been received by the office to date this fiscal year, versus 116,331 over the same time last year. The backlog of applications awaiting first office action by examiners increased this month to 721,831.
Although not on our dashboard, we want to continue to provide you with updates on our Green Technology Pilot Program. As we last reported in November 2010, the Green Technology program was expanded and today the program is starting to take off. The expanded program is now open to any unexamined application. We have received 149 new petitions since November and nearly 1,000 applications have fast-tracked through this program. Of these applications, we have issued 156 patents since the program was launched a little more than one year ago. As Director Kappos noted in this blog, applicants who are using the program are seeing great results. In several cases, patent applications in the Green Technology Program have been issued within a year of the filing date. We foresee our Green Tech program playing a key role in fostering a foundation for growth and job creation in this emerging and important industry sector.