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November 20, 2008


Throw the confetti; break out the champagne; the USPTO has finally achieved perfection. According to the USPTO's FY 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, the PTO has met 100-percent of its performance goals. We can all stop worrying about poor examination quality and dishonest mis-management, because this is perfection baby!

From the press release:

The U.S. Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released fiscal year-end numbers that demonstrate the agency's commitment to sustaining high performance in the quality and timely examination of patent and trademark applications. For the first time the USPTO met 100 percent of its Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals. The results are contained in the USPTO's FY 2008 Performance and Accountability Report, which was released to the public today.

"Our exceptional performance reflects the hard work and dedication of the USPTO management team and most importantly, the more than 9,500 bright, quality-focused and results-driven USPTO employees," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Jon Dudas. "Their perseverance in sustaining high performance for the USPTO will carry the agency into the future and continue to help strengthen the IP system for years to come."

Patents - Optimizing Patent Quality and Timeliness

In FY 2008, USPTO met and, in some cases, exceeded its patent pendency, production, and quality targets. Patents maintained a high level of patent quality by achieving an allowance compliance rate of 96.3 percent, exceeding its goal.

  • Patents increased production by an additional 14 percent over FY 2007 by examining 448,003 applications-the highest number in history. Production has increased by 38.6 percent over the past four years, compared to a 21.3 percent increase in application filings during the same period.
  • Patents received a record number of utility patent applications filed electronically (332,617), and achieved a record rate (72.1 percent) of applications filed electronically as well.
  • Patents achieved an average first action pendency of 25.6 months and an average total pendency of 32.2 months.
  • Patents received 1,765 patent application filings through the Accelerated Examination Program, 173 percent more than in the program's introductory year of FY 2007. A 12-month or less pendency rate was also maintained for every application, with an average time to final action or allowance of 186 days.

Improving IP Protection and Enforcement

  • The USPTO worked more closely in FY 2008 with its international counterpart offices than ever before. The Agency hosted the follow-up to the 2007 Heads of Office meeting for the five largest IP offices (Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and the United States) to discuss further cooperative initiatives to meet the growing patent application filing demands and improve patent quality.
  • The USPTO's Global Intellectual Property Academy trained more than 4,100 foreign officials on best practices for strengthening IP rights and enforcement in their nations.

Achieving Organizational Excellence

  • The USPTO continues to be recognized as the leader in federal government telework initiatives through its award-winning programs. At the end of FY 2008, 54 percent of USPTO's employees were eligible to participate in one of 20 different telework programs across the agency. Among those employees who were eligible to telework, nearly 83 percent chose to do so.

But, it's a less than honest game when goals are set to be met and press releases only tell half the story.

Donald Zuhn of Patent Docs reports:

Despite the significant increase in the number of applications that the Office examined in 2008, the report states that the total number of applications awaiting action rose from 760,924 in 2007 to 771,529 in 2008, and the total number of applications under examination rose from 1,112,517 in 2007 to 1,208,076 in 2008.

The report indicates that while the Office had more patent application disposals (396,228) in 2008 than in any of the four previous years, the Office allowed fewer applications (187,607) in 2008 than it did in 2007.

The percent of application disposals constituting allowances in 2008 was 47.3%, down from 54% in 2007, 56.1% in 2006, 61% in 2005, and 64.2% in 2004. Last year, the Office indicated that the dropping allowance rate supported its assertion that patent quality was on the rise. In the 2008 report, the Office instead focuses on its higher than expected allowance compliance rate of 96.3 percent when speaking of increased patent quality. (The allowance compliance rate is the percentage of reviewed applications allowed by examiners that did not have any errors.)

[T]he average pendency to a first Office Action for all Tech Centers combined jumped from 25.3 months in 2007 to 25.6 months in 2008, and the overall average total pendency increased from 31.9 months in 2007 to 32.2 months in 2008.

So, goals were met, but pendency increased, and the allowance rate continued to drop as applicants are relentless in their attempts to flood the office with their crappy ideas.


Patent Prospector coverage of last year's report.

Posted by Mr. Platinum at November 20, 2008 9:28 AM | The Patent Office


With this Report (if you can call it that), the USPTO has now gone far past Bill O"Reilly's "No Spin Zone". I guess there are "lies, damn lies, and then there are USPTO statistics." I know that when I provided input on the USPTO's performance, it wasn't very complementary (no better than a "poor" rating). I guess the input of those of us in the know doesn't count.

Posted by: EG at November 20, 2008 2:22 PM

"Patents achieved an average first action pendency of 25.6 months and an average total pendency of 32.2 months."

Ha, ha, ha -- the ole' mean as an indicator for skewed data trick. More USPTO spin that can be explained only on the grounds of stupidity or dishonesty. I'd love to see the raw data on this.

If each art group or examiner files a first office action on 2% of their applications in just 2 weeks, that will, no doubt, bring the "average" first action time down to record levels. The median, however, will remain at 48 months, or whatever it really is.

We need to see the data. Show us the number of applications awaiting first action for each month from 1 to 90+. I'll bet dollars to donuts that it's heavily skewed to the high end, probably with a small hump at the low end that is used to bring the mean down.

In the mean time, I'm still waiting on first actions on cases filed in early 2005.

Pffffttttt!!!!!, as Opus would say.

Posted by: Babel Boy at November 21, 2008 10:58 AM