How long does patent and trademark prosecution take? (2008 update)

Last November on this blog I discussed a question that is commonly posed by patent and trademark applicants:  “how long will my application take?”  The USPTO just released new statistics that answer this question, so here are some benchmarks from the USPTO’s FY 2008 Performance and Accountability Report:

Patents:  The average time between filing and first Office Action is 25.3 months, while the average total pendency (i.e., time from the filing date to patent issuance or abandonment) is 32.2 months.  Both of these numbers are up slightly from last year’s statistics. 

As with previous years, the patent statistics vary widely by technology area.  Applications classified in Technology Center 2600 (Semiconductor, Electrical, Optical Systems & Components) have an average pendency of 28.2 months.  In contrast, applications in Technology Center 2100 (Computer Architecture, Software & Information Security) and Technology Center 2600 (Communications) typically pend over 42 months.

Additional technology-specific pendency statistics are found on page 118 of the USPTO’s Report.  Also, Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O blog recently posted a more detailed summary of patent pendency by technology area based on his independent research.

The USPTO saw a significant spike in patent reexamination activity in 2008.  The number of reexamination certificates issued was up 56.7% in 2008.  The number of reexamination requests was up 5.8% as compared to 2007 data, and up 22.1% as compared to 2006 data. 

USPTO allowed 187,607 patent applications, while 208,610 applications went abandoned, resulting in a success rate of only 47.3%.  However, this statistic may be slightly miselading, as it includes all applications that were abandoned in 2008, even if the abandonment was for reasons unrelated to a rejection (e.g., the applicant simply no longer wished to invest in the application).  Finally, the number of applications filed was up 5.7%, while the number of patents granted was down about 1%, compared to the previous year.

Trademarks:  In 2008 the average time from filing to first Office Action was 3.0 months.  The average total pendency was 13.9 months — down from 15.1 months in 2007.

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