On September 7, 2010, David Kappos , the Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office, announced the launch of a beta version of a new USPTO Data Visualization Center . The new Data Visualization Center offers a patents dashboard that displays USPTO productivity measurements. The USPTO has traditionally used two primary benchmarks to measure patent pendency. As stated by Kappos on his public blog:
Traditionally, we have measured pendency at two points in the process: first, we have measured the average time from filing to First Office Action, which is the first substantive examination action; and we have measured the average time from filing to allowance or abandonment of the application, which we refer to on the dashboard as Traditional Total Pendency.
But the new patents dashboard also displays a number of other new pendency-related measures. For example, information is provided regarding:
a. Inventory Position;
b. Pendency from Filing to Board Decision;
c. Pendency of RCEs;
d. Pendency of Continuations;
e. Pendency of Divisional Applications; and
f. Traditional Total Pendency Including RCEs.
While the USPTO’s new patents dashboard may not appear earth shattering at first glance, it is a big step in the right direction. What is significant about the new patents dashboard is transparency. The older way of disclosing the average time of patent application pendency made it appear much shorter than reality, because it failed to take into account RCEs. (See, e.g., Erik Sherman’s blog addressing the deceptiveness of the older definition of pendency.) Indeed, it appears that Patently-O‘s statement that Kappos “is likely to open access to previously hidden data and information” will prove true. This will be increasingly important given the current backlog of pending patents at the USPTO and the USPTO’s primary objective to drive this number down.
You can see the USPTO Data Visualization Center and patents dashboard at http://www.uspto.gov/dashboards/ .