Although I haven't done a full analysis to back up the following statement, I would feel safe betting my kids' 529 plans on it: More patent applications were filed the first week of June 1995 than any other week in USPTO history. How much more, you ask? Consider the following:
- Number of utility patents issued for apps filed 6/1/1995 to 6/7/1995: 20,557
- Number of utility patents issued for apps filed the previous week: 2,476
- Number of utility patents issued for apps filed the following week: 1,564
- Number of utility patents issued for apps filed in all of 1995: 144,515
Staggering, no? If you are looking at an issued patent that was filed in 1995, there is over a 14 percent likelihood it was filed in one particular week of that year. But it gets better: half of those 20 thousand patents were filed on a single day: June 7, 1995.
Of course, this should not be shocking to most patent attorneys, who know that June 8, 1995 marked the GATT changes regarding the term of a patent: "17 years from issuance" went to "20 years from earliest claimed priority date". The mad rush ensued, particularly for anyone with an application claiming priority back a few years or so. (Jerome Lemelson has thirteen patents that were filed that week; Ronald A. Katz has nine). I keep imagining what the post office looked like that evening...must have had an April 15th-like feel. (if you have war stories, please share).
But what is more interesting is watching patents continue to issue that were filed that week nearly fourteen years ago. So far in 2009, three such patents have issued. The first, U.S. Patent No. 7,491,205 issued on February 17, 2009, and will expire in 2026. Had it been filed a day later, it would have expired before it even issued -- it claims priority back to 1988. The other two, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,501,487 and 7,500,433, issued on March 10.
The chart below shows the very, very long tail of tricklers.
Fewer than five such patents have issued each quarter since Q3 2007. One wonders when the tail will actually stop.
Obviously, when a patent takes this long in prosecution, there is almost certainly a story. Typically, there is some up-and-down with the BPAI through appeals or interferences. Sometimes there are just long, unexplained delays at the PTO (such as files that are mysteriously "lost"). But if any of those stories are particularly compelling, you'll be able to read them here.