By Donald Zuhn --
On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released its Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2010. With respect to the Office's performance goals, the report indicates that 64% of performance targets were met. The report identifies three strategic goals, each comprising several objectives:
1. Optimize patent quality and timeliness
2. Optimize trademark quality and timeliness
3. Provide domestic and global leadership to improve intellectual property policy, protection and enforcement worldwide
With regard to the first strategic goal, the report indicates that the Office met two of that goal's objectives and achieved results that were slightly below target with respect to three other objectives (see table below).
[M]ade significant progress towards reducing the backlog and patent pendency, despite continued funding and hiring challenges. The improvements and increased efficiencies are seen in our performance metrics. Our progress as measured in actions per disposal show a downturn from 2.7 in FY 2009 to 2.42 in FY 2010. Productivity was up by 3.6 percent over the same time last year. The year’s total production units were 522,407 versus 504,481 production units in FY 2009. Allowances have increased from 189,120 last year to 240,438 this year. Final rejections ended the year with 258,436 final rejections, compared to 238,497 for the same period in FY 2009. Interviews have increased approximately 37 percent from last year.
The report notes that patent filings increased 4.7% for 2010, jumping from 486,499 in 2009 to 509,367 in 2010 (according to preliminary data). This follows a 2.1% decline in patent filings for 2009.
In 2010, the Office accepted more than 500,000 applications for the first time. Nevertheless, the number of application awaiting action dropped from 735,961 in 2009 to 726,331 in 2010 (the lowest total since 2006), and the total number of pending application dropped from 1,207,794 in 2009 to 1,163,751 in 2010 (the lowest total since 2007). Utility patent issuances were up substantially in 2010 (according to preliminary data), rising from 165,213 in 2009 to 207,915 in 2010.
With respect to first action and final action pendency, the report shows that the Office fell short of the target, with average first action pendency 0.3 months higher than the 25.4 month target and final action pendency 0.5 months higher than the 34.8 month target.
For biotechnology and organic chemistry applicants, the news was mixed as the average first action pendency of 22.8 months for Technology Center 1600 applications was lower than the overall first action pendency of 25.7 months, and the final action pendency of 36.0 months was higher than the overall final action pendency of 35.3 months. No other Technology Center posted a better first action pendency than TC 1600, and only TC 2800 (semiconductor, electrical, optical systems & components) and TC 3600 (transportation, construction, agriculture & electronic commerce) posted better final action pendencies.
For additional information regarding this and other related topics, please see:
• "USPTO Announces 'Highest Performance Levels in Agency's History' in 2008," November 18, 2008
• "USPTO Announces 'Record Breaking' 2007 Performance," November 15, 2007
• "Patent Office Announces Record-Breaking Year," December 27, 2006