The Patent and Trademark Office said it beat its goals for cutting the time it takes to process patent applications, now giving an initial response in less than 15 months and finishing examinations in under two years, on average.
The Oct. 9 announcement shows how the agency, which receives thousands of patent applications each year, is working to strike a balance between giving examiners enough time to study applications and ensuring applicants aren’t waiting endlessly to learn whether they can patent an invention.
The agency is now clocking 14.7 months to provide applicants with a first action response from an examiner, and 23.8 months from filing to the end of an examination, as of fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30, PTO Director Andrei Iancu and Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld said in a blog post. The patent office in 2018 set timeliness goals of 15 months and 24 months, respectively.
“All along, we have maintained and indeed improved the quality of our examination,” Iancu and Hirshfeld said in the blog post. “This achievement marks the USPTO’s lowest first action pendency since January 2002.”
Total application filings have nearly doubled from 353,000 in fiscal year 2002 to 667,000 in fiscal 2019, the officials said. As next steps, the agency will ramp up the use of analytics tools to help examiners and to route cases to the right examiners in a timely manner, they said.