Answer: more quickly than it used to if USPTO Patent Commissioner, Robert Stoll, has his way. Patently O reports on a new USPTO initiative to drive toward an average of ten months to an initial office action after an inventor files a patent. To that end, the Patent Office has set a goal of ensuring that all patents filed before June 7, 2009 should receive an initial office action by September 30, 2011.
The InvnTree blog recently analyzed How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent? For electronic inventions, the average time in the U.S. is about 40 months, and that seems to be one of the more quickly examined technology areas. Invntree’s analysis didn’t look at the variation about that average, so I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look at the 32 patents on which I’m an inventor. My average time is 30 months from date of filing to date of issue. Many of my applications are continuations-in-part which may be responsible for the faster than typical analysis. On the other hand one patent has been allowed and will issue this summer after pending nearly four years and another filed about the same time is only on a second office action. The fastest patent I filed issued in 11 months. The slowest patent took 85 months, but that was more a tribute to the assignee’s determination to file multiple Requests for Continuing Examination than any sloth on the part of the Patent Office. Following is a histogram and cumulative probability density. By the way, I used YourFonts to generate the font in the chart from my handwriting.
Interestingly, the USPTO claims that the average time to get an invention in the U.S. is twenty-two months. That has to be out-of-date.