Five Fun (!) Facts About US Design Patent Examination That You Probably Didn’t Know
Design patent examination has been subject to many recent changes at the USPTO, including changes in the application backlog and foreign filing. While design patents made up just under 8.0% of the patents issued in 2015, the trends in design patent examination are still instructive, especially when compared to utility patent examination.
Fun Fact No. 1. The backlog for most patent applications is decreasing; meanwhile, the design application backlog is increasing.
In May 2017, there were only 542,840 unexamined utility, plant, and reexam patent applications pending¾a 67,000 plus reduction from October 2014. (Remember that as patents are examined, more are filed, so this means that not only did the PTO keep up with the new filings, it also chipped away at the backlog.) (See Patents Dashboard). Unfortunately, for designs, the backlog has increased during this same time period from 38,094 unexamined design applications in October 2014 to 42,883 as of May 2017. There is hope for the future, as the technology center responsible for designs has been hiring and now boasts 187 patent examiners. Continue reading