How Long Does A U.S. Patent Or Trademark Application Take To Grant? (2020 Edition)

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The USPTO recently released its FY2020 Performance and Accountability Report, with contains helpful information about allowance rates, average pendency, and other statistics about its review of patent and trademark applications this year. Each year, IP Spotlight analyzes this report and, and we update our readers who often ask: how long does it take for a patent or trademark registration to grant?  To answer that question:

Patents: In 2020 the USPTO’s eight-year trend of reducing patent application pendency continued to trend downward. The average time from filing to first action was 14.7 months. The average total pendency — that is, the time from filing to either grant or abandonment — was 23.3 months. Both of these numbers were slightly below last year’s averages. The numbers also exceeded the USPTO’s goals.

The wait times varied based on the USPTO Technology Center that reviewed the application. The breakdown by technology included:

  • biotechnology and organic chemistry (USPTO Technology Center 1600) had an average wait time of 13.3 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 22.6 months;
  • chemical and materials engineering (USPTO Technology Center 1700) had an average wait time of 16.8 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 26.9 months;
  • computer architecture, software and information security (USPTO Technology Center 2100) had an average wait time of 16.0 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 26.5 months;
  • networks, multiplexing, cable and security (USPTO Technology Center 2400) generally waited 12.9 months to first action, and have an average total pendency of 23.1 months;
  • communications technologies (USPTO Technology Center 2600) had the shortest average wait times — 11.4 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 29.2 months;
  • semiconductors, electrical systems and optical systems (USPTO Technology Center 2700) had an average wait time of 13.1 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 21.1 months;
  • transportation, construction, agriculture and e-commerce technologies (USPTO Technology Center 3600) had an average wait time of 16.7 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 26.4 months; and
  • mechanical engineering and manufacturing technologies (USPTO Technology Center 3700) had an average wait time of 17.7 months to first action, and an average total pendency of 28.0 months.

The total number of nonprovisional patent applications filed dropped by about 2%, to 653,311 in 2020. However, the number of provisional patent applications increased by about 3% to an all-time high of 174,464.

399,055 patents issued in FY 2020, also an all-time high of 665,231.  The allowance rate increased to 61.7%.

Trademarks: In FY 2020 the average time from filing to first Office Action in a trademark application was 3 months. Average total pendency was 9.5 months for applications that were not opposed or suspended during prosecution.

Notably, despite the year’s pandemic, during which many brand holders consolidated or dropped brands, the total number of trademark applications filed increased by nearly 10% to 738,112.  The number of active certificates of trademark registration increased by 5.7% to over 2.6 million.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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