The USPTO recently released its FY2019 Performance and Accountability Report, with contains helpful information about allowance rates, average pendency, and other statistics about its review of patent and trademark applications this year. Each year, IP Spotlight analyzes this report and, and we update our readers who often ask: how long does it take for a patent or trademark registration to grant? To answer that question:
Patents: In 2019 the USPTO continued a eight-year trend of reducing patent application pendency. The average time between filing and first office action was 14.7 months, more than month quicker than last year’s average of 15.8 months. However, average total pendency (from filing to either grant or abandonment) also remained level at 23.8 months.
As is usual, the wait times varied by technology. Patent applications for computer architecture and mechanical engineering inventions generally experienced the longest waits, while patent applications for communications and biotech inventions moved much more quickly. The breakdown by technology included:
- biotechnology and organic chemistry (USPTO Technology Center 1600) had an average wait time of 11.8 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 22.8 months;
- chemical and materials engineering (USPTO Technology Center 1700) had an average wait time of 16.4 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 27.7 months;
- computer architecture, software and information security (USPTO Technology Center 2100) had an average wait time of 17.5 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 28.3 months;
- networks, multiplexing, cable and security (USPTO Technology Center 2400) generally waited 13.3 months to first action, and have an average total pendency of 25.2 months;
- communications technologies (USPTO Technology Center 2600) had the shortest average wait times — 10.4 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 20.0 months;
- semiconductors, electrical systems and optical systems (USPTO Technology Center 2700) had an average wait time of 12.5 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 22.1 months;
- transportation, construction, agriculture and e-commerce technologies (USPTO Technology Center 3600) had an average wait time of 16.5 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 26.8 months; and
- mechanical engineering and manufacturing technologies (USPTO Technology Center 3700) had an average wait time of 19.1 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 28.8 months.
338,584 patents issued in FY 2019, a slight decrease from last year’s total. However, the number of new patent applications filed increased to an all-time high of 665,231. The allowance rate increased to 59.6% — 3.3% higher than last year’s rate.
The report noted that “serialized” patent filings — continuations and requests for continued examination — increased by 4.9 percent in 2019. The USPTO noted that this increase caused in corresponding increase in its year-end inventory of unexamined patent applications.
Trademarks: In FY 2019 the average time from filing to first Office Action in a trademark application decreased to 2.6 months, down from 3.4 months in 2018. Average total pendency also dipped a bit to 9.3 months.
The total number of trademark applications filed also hit an all-time high mark of 673,233. For the first time, the number of active certificates of trademark registration exceeded 2.5 million at the end of FY 2019.