Patent Filings Down More Significantly Than Previously Thought

James ToupinPatently-O is reporting that patent filings at the PTO are down much more significantly than previously reported by Acting Director John Doll.

A reader of that blog reports that PTO General Counsel James Toupin, speaking at a conference last week sponsored by USC Law School, stated that “[n]ew patent filings are down 16% so far in 2009.”  Prof. Crouch attributes this to a confluence of four issues:

(1) downturn in the US economy reducing cash-on-hand and a strong dollar discouraging foreign investment; (2) increased PTO bureaucracy making it more difficult to obtain a patent with a valuable scope; (3) increased patentability standards making it more difficult to obtain patent protection; and (4) decreased potential returns in litigation.

There is nothing the PTO can do about the first issue, but it can certainly take a hard look at (2) and (3).  Issue (4) is the result of the work of the Federal Circuit and other courts.

Patently-O is further reporting that all legal and technical studies at the PTO have been suspended because of “budget constraints.”

As I noted earlier, these numbers affect more than the PTO’s current budget.  They also have a significant effect on the PTO’s future budgets for years to come.  Moreover, they have a strong effect on the economy and the US’s position as an innovation leader (circular, I know).  Further efforts to weaken patents by Congress, the Federal Circuit, and the PTO could have even more devastating effects on patent filings.

Is this a perfect storm to end the golden age of innovation and patenting?

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3 Responses to “Patent Filings Down More Significantly Than Previously Thought”

  1. Allowance Rates Continue to Drop « Inventive Step Says:

    [...] The EPO did report a 3.6% increase in application filings from 2007 to 2008 (141,400 to 146,600), but the JPO reported a 3% decline in filings from 2006 to 2007, which follows a 4.3% decline between 2005 and 2006.  I have already reported on the US PTO’s significant decrease in filings during 2009, here and here. [...]

  2. Congress Attempts to Aid PTO in its Budget Crisis « Inventive Step Says:

    [...] $60-70 million surplus of funds on the trademark side of the office in an effort to alleviate the budget crisis on the patent side.  By statute, the PTO has to keep its operations and revenue separate for patent and trademark  [...]

  3. House Passes Bill Shifting PTO Revenue « INVENTIVE STEP Says:

    [...] understand that the money has to come from somewhere, but the PTO’s budget crisis is a result of a significant decrease in filings.  Much of this is the result of the economy, but [...]

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