IP Australia has published a report looking at patent backlogs, inventories and pendency.
The Report has been prepared using the same framework used by the USPTO and UK IPO.
Apparently, the number of pending applications peaked in 2009 at 100,000. By 2013, it was down to 90,000. The number of applications being filed has finally recovered to “pre-GFC” levels.
There are 278 pending applications per examiner; the lowest number since 2001. In the USA (which has a much larger number of applications) the number is 169 applications per examiner and, in the UK, 198 per examiner.
There were 26,394 applications filed in 2008. Approximately 52% passed through examination and opposition (if any) to grant. Some 9.4% were still “pending” as at May 2013.
About 20% of applications made in 2008 were the subject of a voluntary request for examination; almost all of the remainder are subject to a direction to request examination.
Almost 20% of all applications lapsed or were withdrawn when the Commissioner directs the applicant to request examination. Almost 15% lapsed or were withdrawn at the first report stage. A further 2% lapsed or were withdrawn after further reports.
950 of the applications made in 2008 (0.36%) have been subject to opposition (to date). Of those, the opposition led to only 68 (0.026%) being rejected or withdrawn.
You can read the Report here.
The UK IPO and USPTO ‘Working draft‘ from last year (pdf) (media release).
Patently-O has been looking at aspects of the US data here, here and here.
Yesterday, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument on the question of the patentability of Alice Corporation’s software system for a method of payment, in denying the validity of which 10 judges of the Federal Circuit famously came up with 7 different opinions.
Several patents and claims are in issue, all relating to a computerized trading platform used for conducting financial transactions in which a third party settles obligations between a first and a second party so as to eliminate “counterparty” or “settlement” risk.
The question presented:
Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions-including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture-are directed to patent-eligible subject matter within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 101 as interpreted by this Court?
As petitioner, the patentee (Alice Corp) will argue first. Respondent’s time will be split between CLS Bank and the US Government who has filed an amicus brief highlighting a misguided argument that “the abstract idea exception is patent law’s sole mechanism for excluding claims directed to manipulation of non-technological concepts and relationships.”
Transcript here. Some extracts here
One interesting point: the questioning of the advocates about which of the competing options proposed by the amici they preferred as solutions to the issue.
Summary of briefs with links to the briefs
Washington Post preview
Our own battles in this front are still proceeding with a decision awaited in the Research Affiliates appeal and RPL Central.
Meanwhile the USPTO has issued revised guidelines: 2014 Procedure For Subject Matter Eligibility Analysis Of Claims Reciting Or Involving
Laws Of Nature/Natural Principles, Natural Phenomena, And/Or Natural Products.
IP Australia and the US PTO have reached agreement to permit some international searching for US patent applications to be undertaken by IP Australia.
According to IP Australia:
The arrangement, which comes into effect on 1 November 2008, will allow applicants from the US to choose IP Australia to undertake the initial search and examination of their patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Applications that may not be covered under the arrangement are certain international applications relating to particular mechanical engineering or analogous fields of technology.
The arrangement starts on 1 November 2008.
A bit more detail here. Nothing on USPTO site as yet.