December's advice article
Using the USPTO Data Visualization Center-Your Window into the USPTO
Access to timely information and statistics is important for any business plan. For independent inventors and entrepreneurs, knowing the processing timelines for patent applications, as well seeing up-to-date statistics about other internal operations of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), helps them set reasonable expectations and business objectives.
The Data Visualization Center is a quick source of USPTO information regarding processing and quality measures in the Patents, Trademarks, and Office of Policy and External Affairs business units. It is available on the USPTO home page in the left navigational menu, identified by a large icon. By selecting the Data Visualization Center link, users have the opportunity to see "dashboards" of specific data from each business unit.
The staggering amount of information in the Patents dashboard is of interest to stakeholders engaged in or considering the patent application process. Users can readily see valuable statistics regarding:
- The average pendency, in months, for applications
- The backlog of pending unexamined patent applications
- The number of patent examiners on staff reviewing patent applications
- Quality related measures
- Pendency related measures
The Patents dashboard is designed to be user-friendly, providing high-level visual and numeric information at-a-glance and then more in-depth information and explanation of the data. In some instances, up to two years of historical data is available. The data can be freely downloaded, saved, and printed for use in presentations and for dissemination amongst colleagues or interested persons.
Each business unit regularly updates their visualization dashboard in a timeframe that reflects useful information, generally on a quarterly basis. The Patents dashboard is updated monthly. We encourage you to visit the USPTO Data Visualization Center frequently to see the progress being made by the USPTO and a record of many of the USPTO initiatives.
How to Determine When Your Patent Application Will Be Picked Up for Examination
Another useful data tool available on the USPTO website is the First Office Action Estimator. Users of the First Office Action Estimator can check current estimates on how long it will take for a first Office action on a patent application. This is done by entering the Art Unit or technology class and subclass associated with a current or potential patent application. The calculator will then supply an estimate based on the current inventory level of applications filed in the technology area and the current staffing levels in the Art Unit identified.
Providing this information is part of the USPTO's desire for transparency when dealing with stakeholders. As always, the USPTO is dedicated to minimizing first action and total pendency, and we are targeting resources to help address backlogs in technology areas with high levels of new application filings.