With little fanfare, the USPTO has now dropped its First Office Action pendency for three months running in 2018 to below 16 months.  Tech Center 2600 which handles Communications has even obtained a pendency of less than a year – 11. 5 months.

First Office Action pendency is the time an applicant waits from filing their patent application to receiving a first substantive response from the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office.  In the past that wait has seemed interminable.  However, this wait time, First Office Action pendency, has been steadingly dropping office-wide according to the USPTO’s data.

The USPTO has an even more ambitious goal to reduce First Office Action pendency to just 10 months by 2019.  Another USPTO goal is to reduce total pendency—from the time of filing to the time of issuance of the patent—to 20 months by 2019. Currently it is 24.4 months and dropping.   These trends in pendency, if they hold, will give patent applicants and companies more options and impact patent strategy and budgets.

Of course if quick resolution is paramount, a patent application can be filed as a Track One application. Under the Track One program, the USPTO is mandated to complete the process—either by issuing the patent or finally rejecting it—within 12 months of filing. Such expedience comes at a price, however: an additional $4,000 in filing fees (or $2,000 for “small entities”).

https://www.uspto.gov/corda/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml?CTNAVID=1004

-Khaled Shami
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