USPTO Backlog Reaches 1.7 Million
On Monday, May 3rd, the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, David Kappos, claimed that job growth was being stifled because of backups within the patent office. While he does not cite any empirical data, Kappos stated that the potential job loss due to delays on patent approval could run into the millions. According to Kappos, more than one million applications are pending, and more than 700,000 have not even been picked up by an examiner for initial examination.
The backlog in the Patent Office has not been sudden. Problems in the early 1990s, including diversions of the Office’s funding, caused the Office to fall behind without the manpower or money to catch up. This bottleneck within the system has caused 76% of start-up managers to report problems in securing start-up funds, claiming that their investors needed them to obtain a valid patent before they would make investment decisions.
As a bill moves through Congress to reform the Patent Office by giving the director more discretionary power to enact reform, many fear that without reform, the United States’ role as a leader in innovation will be threatened by other emerging world powers.
By Eric Perrott