The backlog of pending patent applications at the PTO is important to inventors because a large backlog results in long wait times before a patent application is reviewed by an examiner. During the last years of the last administration, the backlog at the PTO grew so large that the average time to first office action was over 29 months from the filing date of a patent application. The administration of David Kappos at the PTO is implementing a number of programs to enhance productivity and reduce the backlog. In just one year, the average time to the first office action from the initial filing has dropped to 25.7 months, and still is going down.
One of those programs is the “Patents Dashboard,” which is an easy-to-understand representation of PTO management performance. The Patents Dashboard presents a visual representation of changes in the number of examiners, the backlog, the average pendency and other metrics. We can attest that things are moving quicker at the PTO. We recently received a first office action on the merits of a utility patent application within 5.5 months after filing the original application, with claims allowed, which has to be a record.
–Robert Yarbrough, Esq.