Based on patent filings thus far in 2009, the number of new applications filed in 2009 is projected to drop by more than 11 percent from 2008. The drop in applications translates into a significant decrease in current revenue to the Patent and Trademark Office (‘PTO’) from fees. The drop in revenue creates a major budgetary problem for the PTO, which still is facing a record backlog of patent applications awaiting review. The PTO reportedly has stopped hiring new patent examiners due to budget constraints. Because of the usual attrition in the examining corps, we expect that the time from the filing of the patent application to the first office action by the PTO will increase from the current average of 26 months. We therefore reach the following incongruous result: fewer patent applications = longer review times.
— Robert J. Yarbrough, Esq.