It was about 12 years ago we were working with a patent attorney on a new design. During a coffee break we got to discussing "frivolous patents". The attorney told us there were many such patents on things such as the purchasing algorithm for internet commerce. Once an entrepreneur (read "scam artist") obtained a patent on his purchase algorithm his next step was to con investors into financing his scheme, the sucker-bait being "I own the patent" and having the paperwork to prove it.
A few years later got hints that large corporations that could afford to patented every single little thing possible. Then they traded blocks of patents back and forth ("you can use our patents if we can use your patents").
Has anything really changed? Mind you, what I have said is as heard from others, I make no claim that these observations are based on fact.
It may be misleading to say that "The economy doesn't appear to have slowed patent flow significantly in the U.S.” Patents have a long lead time, the 31% increase in patents in 2010 reflect examiners completing reviews of patents that were filed years earlier. For example, my 4 issued patents in 2010 were the results of applications filed in August 2003, September 2005, August 2006, and December 2006.
@Rick Merritt: it would be interesting to know what % of the increase came from the so called greentech/cleantech patent applications which were given a fast track approval process.
@Frank Eory: USPTO did hire a number of positions in the late 2008 and early 2009 time frame to prep for the increase in greentech filings. It also outsources some of its work. Now a days, its examiners are also spread out at various locations in the US, working from home offices (not publicized much!).
Dr. MP Divakar
The USPTO did not increase the number of examiners by 31%, so most likely the existing examiners got a lot more efficient with that rubber stamp.
I hope I'm wrong. We already have one industry that got itself in lots of trouble for taking a robo-signing approach to important documents :)
I think that more pertinent would be statistics about the acceptance/rejection rate. If acceptance is up 31% in real numbers, is this because more applications were input, or because the overwhelmed examiners rubber-stamp anything that has a new way of wording the proposition, and are rejecting a smaller percentage?
31% increase!! Now thats impressive. Anyone knows what was the growth rate last year & the year before? With lot of patent trolls on the move, companies have no choice but to file for every patent they possibly can. Guess it also shows US is still the intellectual capital of the world. BTW where are the china numbers? Or you dont count it because of lack of IP law enforcements?
~6K patents for IBM :)!! If I am not wrong they are focusing on services these days.
Then what to do with all these patents?