Earlier this week, Director Kappos referred to the PTO’s performance at the end of FY2010 in a blog post. It’s time to refer back to the Data Visualization Center to see the results. The numbers below are as of September, the end of FY2010. This will be an update to the August results posted previously.
First Action Pendency – 25.7 Months
Incredibly, this number is down by half a month from August! Being the end of the fiscal year, the examiners made great progress during September. As of the end of FY2009, the Data Visualization Center reports that it was 25.8 months. This is not a significant decrease for the year.
“Traditional” Total Pendency – 35.3 Months
This number is down by 0.1 months from August. At the beginning of FY2010, it was 34.6 months, so this number has increased by 0.7 months for the year.
Application Pendency with RCEs – 42.6 Months
This number was 42.8 months in August, so it is going down. At the beginning of FY2010, it was 41.1 months. The increase in 1.5 months for the fiscal year is not good.
Applications Awaiting First Office Action – 708,535
The PTO didn’t make its goal of getting this number down to 700,000 by the end of FY2010, but it made a significant one month reduction in September from 728,055. That’s nearly 20,000 applications or 2.7%. That is great for a single month. The numbers for the year aren’t quite as good. FY2010 started with a backlog of 718,835.
Patent Application Allowance Rate – 45.6%, 61.1%
The first number counts RCE filings as abandonments, while the second number does not, but counts them as continuing prosecution. These numbers are up from 41.3% and 57.4%, respectively, at the beginning of FY2010. The rate has generally been increasing for the last couple of years.
Number of Patent Examiners – 6,129
The number of examiners was finally increased as the PTO began significant hiring during September from 6,038 in August. For the year, the number was fairly steady, falling from 6,145 at the beginning of FY2010.
As noted in Director Kappos’ blog post, the PTO made significant progress during September and did pretty well overall during FY2010. It faced significant challenges with the hiring freeze for new examiners, the lack of ability to pay overtime, and an increase in application filing of about 4%. If the PTO can continue to hire and pay examiners, this trend could continue and the backlog could continue to shrink.
Let’s hope so.