# of new applications: 443,652 (up from 409,532 in FY05) # of pending applications: 1,077,042 (up from 885,002 in FY05) # of provisional applications: 121,307 (up from 111,753 in FY05) # of issued patents: 183,187 (up from 165,483 in FY05) Average pendency: 31.1 months (up from 29.1 in FY05)
Although the USPTO is hiring patent examiners like crazy (1,218 in 2006) , it can't possibly train them fast enough to keep up with new filings *and* maintain quality *and* shorten review times. The number of published applications is going to continue to surpass issued patents 1.5-2.0 to 1. There will probably be more than 295,000 published applications in calendar year 2006 and perhaps 325,000 in 2007.
The bottom line: more outsourcing and fast-track examination programs.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.