By Donald Zuhn --
Last week, a post on Patently-O presented some interesting results regarding the percent of utility applications that had issued as patents as compared to the total number of issued patents and abandoned applications for eight technology centers (see "USPTO Grant Rate by Technology Center"). The post indicated that the results had been obtained from an analysis of about 25,000 utility applications filed over the past few years. According to the post, TC 1600 (biotechnology and organic chemistry) had produced the lowest percent of issuances (less than 45%).
For a presentation at last month's BIO International Convention on the impact of the recession on biotech patent prosecution, we looked at the number of biotech/pharma patents that had issued between 2000 and 2010 and the number of biotech/pharma applications that had published over this same time frame. The results of this analysis are shown in the graph below (note: figures for 2010 are projected based on issuances and publications through June 1):
In the graph above, the blue bars represent the number of patents designated as belonging to classes 424, 435, 436, 504, 506, and/or 514 that issued in the specified year. The red line represents the number of patent applications designated as belonging to one of the above classes that published in the specified year (because the AIPA mandated publication of certain U.S. applications filed after November 28, 2000, no biotech/pharma applications were published in 2000 and only 3,920 biotech/pharma applications were published in 2001).
If the numbers through May hold up during the remainder of the year, biotech/pharma patent issuances could return to levels not seen since 2003, indicating that the Patent Office may indeed be putting the days (years?) of "reject, reject, reject" behind them.