Patent Office Has Backlog of 700,000 Applications…3-Year Wait

Monday, August 16, 2010
The mother of invention is currently stuck in traffic, waiting for the long line ahead to clear up. That about sums up the patent system today in the U.S., where an inventor can wait up to three years to hear back from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office about their application. Without a patent to protect a new device or technology, entrepreneurs don’t dare move forward with their idea for fear of others stealing it, and that means lost time and opportunities to create new jobs for an economy sorely in need of more employment.
The backlog at the patent office currently stands at 700,000 applications. On average, 42% of all patent requests get approval.
David Kappos, head of the patent office, hopes to reduce the wait time to 20 months and the backlog in half over the next five years. But he’ll need considerably more money to do so, in order to hire 1,200 additional patent examiners and upgrade his office’s computer systems.
Most of Kappos’ budget comes not from Congress but from application fees of $1,000. Because many smaller applicants get a 50% discount, the office runs short of operating funds.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Patent Backlog Frustrates Inventors (by Phil Hirschkorn and Rebecca Jarvis, CBS Evening News)
Backlog of Patents Still Stifling Potential Jobs, Director Says (by John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)


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